Cello, Viola da Gamba
René Schiffer was born in a town in the Netherlands of which the name begins with an apostrophe: ’s-Hertogenbosch, of a Hungarian father and a mother from Holland Proper. He grew however up in the former Dukedom of Brabant, about 15 miles from van Gogh’s childhood home. His father was a great musician on the mid-20th century cello, his mother a good violist. René took lessons from his father and from Anner Bijlsma, Jaap her Linden, and in Oberlin from Catherina Meints, with whom he studied viola da gamba.
Schiffer played in renowned historical performance groups like Les Musiciens du Louvre, the Netherlands Bach Society, Il Gardelino (in French humorously corrupted to Gare de Lyon), and especially with La Petite Bande. He appeared in most big concert halls in Europe; in Spain alone, he once counted over 30 towns in Spain where he has performed; to the nine towns in China the group traveled by air, not by digging through the earth, that wouldn’t work from Europe. In Shanghai he performed in the renowned movie theater during the time the sign valuable things behavior proper do protect pipe was still painted on the balcony. Schiffer also remembers training (= taking the train) to Kamakura four days in a row on one of his many (two or three) Japanese tours. He visited Israel twice, once in 1985, once around 2005. He played solo in festivals in Budapest, Versailles, Milan, Utrecht and Grandchamp. Granted, it was Milan Ohio where he played, but Versailles was the real thing.
In 1986 Schiffer performed on the cruise ship Achille Lauro, two weeks before it was tragically hijacked. The Spanish hostess with whom he had a fling survived the experience.
In the New World, Schiffer played and taught in the New World Symphony (Miami Beach), in Tafelmusik (Toronto), and in Arts on Alexander in Austin, TX. He has been principal cellist of Cleveland's Apollo's Firess since its foundation in 1992.
René did some guest teaching in a few colleges like Duke, Penn State, CAL, Michigan but not Ohio State, where his running back skills were less appreciated. He taught at Case Western Reserve, and at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
As a composer in ancient styles, Schiffer can be heard on line and on recordings with his Tango Concerto, his JewishRhapsodies, his Clorinda Sonata; his alternative ending to Monteverdi’s l’Orfeo and his completion of the Lacrimosa in Mozart’s Requiem feature on the relevant Apollo’s Fire CDs. As a ‘recording artist’, he expects to release his Bach cello suites before the century is over.
Schiffer has grown into a quite fascinating speaker on music. His lectures about Beethoven's Ninth: the most Christian music of all times, Mozart's Magic Flute and the Pink Panther tune is hailed, especially in Genovia and the isle of St. Yves, where he has quite a reputation for his riveting argumentations and his insights in culture tendencies in the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Post-romantic eras, combined with exquisite humor that stems from always looking for alternative viewpoints - though the fact that these countries are fictional somewhat weakens the praise.
Schiffer has a certain local renown for his jazz performances, especially with in incomparable Jacky Warren, who always allows him to sit in in her gigs.