Pi-hsien Chen was born in Taiwan. At the age of ten she started studying at the Cologne Academy of Music where, taught by Professor Hans-Otto Schmidt-Neuhaus, she received her diploma as a concert pianist in 1970. Subsequently she attended classes on music pedagogy with Hans Leygraf at the University for Music and Drama Hannover. Courses given by Tatjana Nikolajewa, Geza Anda, Wilhelm Kempff, and Claudio Arrau all made a deep impression on her.
When she was twenty-one she won the ARD International Music Competition in Munich and began her career as a concert pianist, swiftly chalking up appearances at major European concert venues. She was also awarded first prize in other competitions.
Pi-hsien Chen has played with distinguished ensembles such as the London and BBC Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, and virtually all the symphony orchestras belonging to German TV stations.
She has worked with conductors such as Bernhard Haitink, Paul Sacher, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, Marek Janowski, Hans Zender, Edmond de Stoutz, and last but not least, Peter Eötvös.
Her chamber music partners have included the Linos-Ensemble, Ruggiero Ricci, Augustin Dumay, Alyssa Park, Hermann Baumann, Hans Deinzer, Roswitha Staege, Wolfgang Meyer, Pierre-Laurant Aimard, Alfons Kontarsky, Kristi Becker, Catherine Vickers, and Andreas Boettger.
Her growing interest in and commitment to contemporary music is reflected in her cooperation with composers like Pierre Boulez, John Cage, Elliott Carter, York Höller, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Pi-hsien Chen has taken part in many music festivals, such as the Ruhr Piano Festival in July 2003, where she played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 29, Op. 106 and Pierre Boulez’ Piano Sonata No. 2.
Between 1983 and 2004, Pi-hsien Chen taught piano as a professor at the Cologne Academy of Music. She moved to the Freiburg University of Music in 2004.
She regularly performs in Taiwan, where she also teaches courses and heads projects at a number of universities with the aim of building a bridge between old and new music.
In 1999 she was a lecturer at the Institute of New Music and Music Education in Darmstadt, where she also taught in the International Holiday Courses for New Music program in 2002 and 2008.