Benjamin Schmid is a popular violinist known for his chameleonic skills in performing both classical and jazz compositions. He has credited two major influences in the development of his career, one each in these two disparate worlds of music: violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli. Schmid's ability to perform both classical and jazz music effectively is all the more amazing considering his broad repertory in each genre: in classical music he plays works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Paganini, Ysaÿe, Berg, Britten, and John Cage; on the other side his repertory includes music by Cole Porter, Gershwin, Kreisler, and many others, including contemporary composer Christian Muthspiel, whose concerto for electric violin Schmid has recorded. Schmid has been quite active in the recording studio over the years, making numerous CDs for a variety of labels, including Oehms, Arte Nova, MD&G, EuroArts, and Basta Records.
Benjamin Schmid was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1968. He began playing the violin in his early childhood and at eight years of age became attracted to the jazz style of Grappelli. Schmid's first serious studies were in Salzburg and Vienna, then later at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Schmid won numerous small competitions before capturing first prize in the 1992 Carl Flesch International Competition in London. By then he had met and begun performing with both Grappelli and Menuhin. With the former he appeared regularly in concerts in Vienna and Paris and, most notably, at the 1994 Salzburg Festival's opening concert.
In 2000 Schmid launched a highly successful world tour playing works by two of his favorite composers: J.S. Bach and Ysaÿe. His schedule included concerts in New York, San Francisco, London, Vienna, and Tokyo. Though Schmid's first recordings appeared in 1996 (Paganini's 24 Caprices and Bach: Six Solo Sonatas, both issued on MD&G), he became especially busy in the recording studio after the turn of the new century.
Most of his newer recordings have appeared on the Oehms label and include both classical and jazz releases. Among the more popular offerings are his 2004 CD of Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano (with pianist Alfredo Perl), the first volume in a complete cycle, and his 2007 recording, Homage á Grappelli, wherein 'Beni' Schmid performs with guitarist Edi Köhldorfer, bass player Georg Breinschmid, and other popular jazz musicians.