Artist database

This is the Artist Database of BMC, which includes information about composers, musicians, orchestras, choirs and groups that are either Hungarian or Hungarian by origin or live in Hungary, as well as information about releases recorded with them.

Hernádi Lajos


Place of Birth
Date of Birth

March 13, 1906 - June 29, 1986

Lajos Hernádi, whose surname was originally Heimlich, was born in Budapest on 13th March 1906. After studying the piano as a child he was admitted in 1924 to the piano department of the Academy of Music, where he joined Béla Bartók’s class. Hernádi spent the academic year 1927-28 in the Berlin class of Artur Schnabel, before returning to the Budapest Music Academy, where he completed his studies as a pupil of Ernő Dohnányi. His finals recital, which featured an outstanding performance of two contemporary works, Stravinsky’s Petrouchka Suite and Bartók’s Piano Sonata, attracted a great deal of attention. Starting from the end of the 1920s, Hernádi gave numerous successful recitals in Hungary and Western Europe. In 1933 he reached the finals of the international Ferenc Liszt piano competition in Budapest, where he was awarded the Hungarian Radio Prize. From the end of the thirties onwards, there were increasingly few concert opportunities for Lajos Hernádi, who was of Jewish extraction, in a Hungary which was moving towards Fascism. For several years he gave recitals in his own apartment. Hernádi was later taken away for forced labour, and after the liberation at the end of October 1944 he made his way to a forest near Munkács. Lajos Hernádi’s first performance was in Debrecen in November 1944, when he played Chopin to wounded Soviet soldiers.

After 1945, alongside a full programme of concertizing in Hungary and abroad, Hernádi devoted a great deal of time and energy to teaching. For three decades (until his retirement in 1975) he taught in the piano department of the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, with such performers as Péter Frankl and Tamás Vásáry emerging from his tutelage. His friendly advice also benefited the musical development of György Cziffra.
In the course of his long career he gave concerts in almost every European country, in the United States, and the Middle East. His repertoire consisted of more than a hundred solo compositions and close to thirty concertos. In his orchestral concerts he worked together with such conductors as Hermann Abendroth, Dean Dixon, Ernő Dohnányi, János Ferencsik, Otto Klemperer, George Solti and Carlo Zecchi. Of his recordings it is primarily his interpretations of Beethoven, Liszt and Bartók which are best remembered. In 1956 he was awarded the Kossuth Prize for his activities as a performer and teacher.

Lajos Hernádi was also invited to serve on the juries of international piano competitions held in Budapest, Leeds, Leipzig, Moscow, Munich, Paris and Warsaw. He also published important musicological studies. His article entitled Chopin’s piano style from a musicological perspective appeared in 1942, and his study Contributions to the psychology of practicing the piano was published in 1947. Of his methodological writings, Anticipation (1947) and The problem of polyphonic piano playing (1948) are worthy of special note. His 1953 sutdy entitled Bartók: the pianist, the teacher and the person attracted much attention in professional circles and appeared in French two years later in the issue of the Revue Musicale devoted to Bartók. Lajos Hernádi played an important role in the publishing of scores in Hungary after the war, editing works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Czerny, among others. In 1948 he collaborated with István Szelényi on a collection of piano pieces published as an album with the title Techniques of the Masters – Masters of Technique His editions of the 18 short preludes and the two- and three-part inventions by Johann Sebastian Bach, and of Joseph Haydn’s piano sonatas, all printed with performing instructions, are still used as teaching materials in Hungarian music classes. His library of scores, containing his own fingering and phrasing, was presented by his sons to the Library of the Academy of Music.

He continued giving concerts until the beginning of the 1980s, retiring from the podium for his remaining years. On 29th June 1986, Lajos Hernádi died in Budapest.