Stephan Schmidt studied in Trossingen, Paris and New York.

Between 1987-1988 he won several first prizes in international competitions, crowned by the 1st prize of  the XXX. Concours International de Guitare de Radio France in Paris in 1988.

His artistic path was influenced by the composer Maurice Ohana and the discovery of the latter's music for tenstring guitar in 1981. Stephan Schmidt's recording of Ohana's complete guitar works earned him world wide attention of the musical press as well as the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros and the Victoires de la Musique in 1994. His award winning recording of the Luteworks of Johann Sebastian Bach was a bestseller for many years and is still considered to be a milestone in the recording history of these pieces. Other recordings were dedicated to Domenico Scarlatti and to contemporary music (Helmut Lachenmann, Heinz Holliger...). In 2016 he published two guitar concertos: one by Antoine de Lhoyer in A-major op.16 and the guitar concerto "White wind waiting" from the magnificent composer Chaya Czernowin.

His concert repertoire is based on the performance of masterpieces by great composers, such as J.S. Bach, Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough, Chaya Czernowin and Bruno Maderna, and the collaboration with other artists from very different aesthetic worlds. He performed in many countries around the world.

From 1988 until 2001 Stephan Schmidt was teaching at the Hochschule der Künste Bern (Switzerland). Between 1998-2001 he was artistic director of "Meisterkurse des Konservatoriums Bern" and organised masterclasses, interdisciplinary meetings, productions and festivals. He developed and founded the Festival "Biennale Bern".

Between 2002 and 2012 Stephan Schmidt has been working as Rector and Professor at the Hochschule für Musik at the Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel in Switzerland. Since 2012 he is Director of the Musik-Akademie Basel/ University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (Hochschule für Musik, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Musikschule Basel, Institut Weiterbildung/School of Excellence).