Thomas Pfiffner studied the piano in Basel and Vienna from 1983 to 1990. He already began taking on cultural management tasks during his studies, e.g. for the Serenata Basel (today the Kammerorchester Basel) and the Klangforum Wien. From 1991 to 1999 he was programme manager of the CD label pan classics, and from 1992 to 1996 he was also the managing director of the Basler Musik Forum (working alongside its artistic directors Heinz Holliger, Rudolf Kelterborn and Jürg Wyttenbach) and recording manager of the Basel Symphony Orchestra. From 1996 to 2005, Thomas Pfiffner as Managing Director and Howard Griffiths as Chief Conductor together guided the fortunes of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. Pfiffner subsequently worked as Director and Intendant of the Musikkollegium Winterthur (Chief Conductor: Douglas Boyd). Since 2014 Pfiffner has been the Managing Director of the Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists.
Besides his main professional duties, Thomas Pfiffner has also been a founding member of the association „European Mozart Ways“ in Salzburg, and President of the Pocket Opera Company and of the Kulturmanagement Forum. He is also the Artistic Director of Meisterzyklus Bern and of the concert series „Piano District“ (the latter together with the pianist Oliver Schnyder). For AMAG he curated the series entitled «Audi Classical Experience». 1997-2016 he was a member of the SUISA Foundation Council (since 2009 Vice-President, since 2014 President). He has regularly been a guest speaker at the Zurich University of the Arts and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Since 2018 he is project leader of the «career advacement program», enabled by the Günther Caspar Foundation.