You studied with the legendary Ferenc Rados. How was he as teacher and person?

Rados is the best piano teacher. To me he was the most important one. It wasn’t easy. On the contrary, I cried a lot but never gave up. For years he criticised me for everything, nothing was ever good. He was sarcastic and even cynical, but deep down he had a heart of gold. And he was always right.

And what were the most important lessons?

From Rados I learned the main elements of piano playing, tone production and self-control. How to listen to myself and how to practise well, without wasting time, always musically, never mechanically. He could show it all on the piano – he is a very great pianist.

Andras Schiff Sir András Schiff. Photo © Yutaka Suzuki 

You also studied with another famous Hungarian, György Kurtág. What kind of influence did he have on your playing?

Kurtág was the other main influence on my playing following Rados. I came to him at the age of 14. He was very analytical and interested in the tiniest details of...