Ernesto Schiavi is a violinist who graduated at the Conservatory of Piacenza in 1970 and the following year joined the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where he remained until 2006. From 1979 to 1990 he was a violin teacher at the Conservatory of Piacenza. In 1982 he founded, together with Claudio Abbado and other musicians, the Filarmonia della Scala where he has functioned as board member since its foundation and vice-president from 1988 to 2000. He has collaborated with conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Leonard Bernstein, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Georges Prêtre, Lorin Maazel, Myung-Whun Chung, Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Fabio Luisi. In 1996, with the contribution of the European Social Fund, he founded the Accademia della Filarmonica della Scala. From 2001 to 2004 he was art director of the orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Parma and drafted the project of the Philharmonic of the San Carlo of Naples.
As Art Director of the Philharmonic of La Scala he established a fruitful relationship with Daniel Barenboim, and developed collaboration with Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti and Daniel Harding, relaunching the international presence and the recording activity of the orchestra.
Particularly in 2007, with the conduction of Riccardo Chailly, he organized the first symphonic tour of La Scala in the United States, after that of Toscanini in 1921, also ensuring its financial coverage with the contribution of only private sponsors. In recent years, he has promoted a turning point in the social field and in the relationship of the Philharmonic of La Scala with the city of Milan through the creation of the Open Philharmonic initiatives: since 2009, the Prove Aperte (Open Rehearsals) project in favor of non-profit associations has made it possible to gather social funds; since 2010 the educational project for children "Sound, Music!" every year involves over a thousand primary school students.
Since 2013 the Concert for Milan, the free annual event in Piazza Duomo, has become the most attended classical event in the city with over 50,000 spectators.
In 2010 he was awarded the Golden Ambrogino by the Municipality of Milan.
Since November 2016 he has been Art Director of the Rai National Symphony Orchestra with whom he has started a very intense and extremely positive relationship.