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.

Vásáry Tamás

piano, conductor

Place of Birth
Date of Birth

Tamás Vásáry was born on August 11th, 1933 in Debrecen, Hungary. At the age of eight he made his debut, performing Mozart's piano concerto in D major, K. 107 in the city of his birth, where he gave a solo recital the following year. He then began to concertize regularly as a child prodigy. It was at this time that he was introduced to Ernő Dohnányi, the leading figure of musical life in Hungary, who made a unique exception by offering to accept the gifted youth as a pupil in spite of his age. Vásáry studied only a short time under his tutelage, however, as Dohnányi soon left Hungary.

At the age of fourteen Vásáry won first prize in the Liszt competition at the Academy of Music in Budapest. In 1953 he received his diploma from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music. He was appointed the same year as a teaching assistant in the solfege department of the Academy of Music and performed in Moscow and Leningrad with such success that on his return he became a prominent figure in musical life in Hungary. He gave solo performances as part of the Mesterbérlet (Master series) and played Mozart's concerto for two pianos in E flat major (K. 365) with Annie Fischer and performed under the batons of János Ferencsik and László Somogyi, two of Hungary's foremost conductors. Over the next few years he was prize winner of four international competitions (the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 1955, the Marguerite Long Competition in Paris the same year, the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels in 1956 and the Rio De Janeiro International Competition in 1957).

In 1958 his first recording made by Deutsche Grammophon, was selected as the record of the month in London and nominated as the record of the year. His immensely successful debut in the Royal Festival Hall in London signified the launch of his international career. From that moment on he gave on average one-hundred concerts every year in the most important musical centers the world over (London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Stockholm, Oslo, and others). In 1962 he made his USA debute in Carnegie Hall in New York under the baton of George Szell. He performed regularly with the world's leading orchestras and most prestigious conductors, such as Ernest Ansermet, André Cluitens, Paul Kletzki, Ferenc Fricsai, André Previn, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Eugen Jockhum, Erick Leinsdorf, Antal Dorati, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Sanderling, György Solti, Rudolf Kempe, Neville Marriner, Adrian Boult, and others. He was also a distinguished guest at the most important music festivals, including the Salzburg Festival, the Edinburgh Music Festival, the Berlin Music Festival, the Granada Music Festival, the Aldeburgh Festival of Music, the Tanglewood Music Festival in the United States, the Blossom Music Festival in Cleveland, the Streza Music Festival, the Hong-Kong Music Festival, the London South Bank Festival, BBC.Prom, the Holland Music Festival, and the Spring Festival in Budapest.

He has worked as conductor with over 100 orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Washington National Philharmonic, the Dallas Philharmonic, the Detroit Philharmonic, the Houston Philharmonic, the Baltimore Philharmonic, the Denver Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Orchestre National de France, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the Turin RAI Orchestra, the Spanish National Orchestra, and others. He was director and principle conductor of two orchestras in England, Northern Sinfonia (1979-1982) and Bournemouth Sinfonietta (1989-1997). He was chief musical director of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 2004 and since 2004 has served as lifetime honorary chief musical director.

He has conducted several operas by Mozart, including Il Re Pastore (The Shepherd King) at the Aldeburgh Festival, Le Nozze de Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) in the Sadlers Wells Theatre in London and in Cambridge, Don Giovanni in Seville, and Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) in Budapest, where he also conducted Verdi's Rigoletto and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (Orpheus and Eurydice).

Vásáry has recorded under six different labels: Supraphon, Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, Academy Sound and Vision, Collins Classic and Hungaroton. He has recorded over 20 albums of the music of Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Rachmaninov and Mozart with Deutsche Grammaphon. Among these are a Chopin album with 8 recordings released in 1965, in the complete edition of Brahms in 1983 with three solo recordings and the Trios and Quartets with soloists from the Berlin Philharmonic, two Mozart piano concerti with the Berlin Philharmonic and the complete piano concerti by Rachmaninov with the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1991 his recording of works by Liszt released by the Academy of Sound and Vision won the Grand Prize in Hungary and his recording of Dohnányi's violin concerto released by Hungaroton won the Midem Prize. He has also recorded the complete Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms symphonies with Hungaroton.

He made a series of videos for Hungarian Television entitled "A zenén túl" (Beyond the Music) about the lives and work of ten composers. Four of these were released on video cassette. He conducts in the Italian-Hungarian film version of Gluck's Orfeo and Tony Palmer's Vaughan Williams film released in December 2007. Over the course of the past few years he made a film on Liszt, Chopin, Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, and Kodály for Duna Television. In 2005 he held a presentation on Liszt for the Mindentudás Egyeteme, a project founded by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and known in English by the acronym ENCOMPASS (Encyclopedic Knowledge made a popular asset). In 1992 he made a video for RAI in Rome of the complete Beethoven piano-violin sonatas with violinist Uto Ughi.

He has performed chamber music with Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-yo Ma, Isaak Stern, Henryk Szeryng, Jozsef Szigeti, Yuri Bashmet, and Dietrich -Fischer Dieskau, among others.

As of 2003 he has regularly performed together with ballerina Henriett Tunyogi in productions in Hungary, Italy, Spain, Israel, Japan, and China. The duo has been invited to participate in the Budapest Spring Festival for the fourth time since 2005.

In 2003 Vásáry's book "A zenén túl" (Beyond the Music) was published. In 2005 Thomas Böttger's book on Vásáry was published in Germany under the title "Gespräche mit Tamás Vásáry" (Conversations with Tamás Vásáry).

Prizes and distinctions: Bach and Paderewsky medals; Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in London; Chevalier des arts et lettres (Order of Knights of Art and Literature) in France; in Hungary the Middle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit, the Kossuth Prize, the Millennial Kölcsey Prize, Gold Medal of the President of the Republic of Hungary (twice), and the Hungarian Heritage Prize. His work was honored in 2017 with Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary.

In 2006 he founded the Zoltán Kodály World Youth Orchestra, with which has made a tour in Hungary and Belgium in 2007. A two-week European tour has been planned for the summer of 2008.

In 2009 he was awarded with Béla Bartók-Ditta Pásztory Award.

Year Title Publisher Code Remark
1996 Karácsony Marton Évával
(Christmas with Eva Marton)
Hungaroton HCD 31672
1998 Hungaroton Classic - 1999 Hungaroton HCD 31842 Sampler CD
1998 Mentsük meg a Zeneakadémiát!
(Let's Save the Liszt Academy!)
Hungaroton HCD 31841
2001 50 éves a Hungaroton - Karmesterek (1951-2001)
(Fifty Years of Hungaroton - Conductors, 1951-2001)
Hungaroton HCD 32074-77 4 CDs
2001 Durkó Zsolt: Magyar rapszódia; Hegedűverseny; Széchenyi-oratórium
(Una rapsodia ungherese; Violin Concerto; Széchenyi Oratorio)
Hungaroton HCD 32027
2001 50 éves a Hungaroton - Vonósművészek (1951-2001)
(Fifty Years of Hungaroton - String Players)
Hungaroton HCD 32091-3 3 CDs
2002 Brahms, Johannes: Szonáták hegedűre és zongorára
(Brahms, Johannes: Sonatas for Violin and Piano)
Hungaroton HCD 32028 Own
2002 Ünnep
(High Day)
Népszabadság NSZMR 002 Not for sale - only for promotion
2002 The #1 Piano Album Decca 472589 2 CDs
2002 Romantic Piano Adagios Decca 470777
2002 Essential Debussy - 26 Of His Greatest Masterpieces Deutsche Grammophon 4790056
2002 Brahms, Johannes: Négy szimfónia; Hegedű- és zongoraversenyek; Német requiem; Változatok egy Haydn-témára; Tragikus nyitány Akadémiai ünnepi nyitány Hungaroton HCD 32137 Own
6 CDs
2003 Survival And Beauty - The Heroic Music Of Chopin Deutsche Grammophon 472883
2004 Balassa Sándor: Hunok völgye op. 69; Csaba királyfi Op.46; Mucsai táncok Op.50
(Balassa, Sándor: Valley of the Huns Op. 69; Prince Csaba Op. 46; Dances of Mucsa Op. 50)
Hungaroton HCD 32212
2005 Chopin, Fryderyk: Four Ballades Hungaroton Own
2021 Beethoven - The Essential Classics of the Great German Composer Hungaroton HCD 32857
2023 Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1&2 Hungaroton HCD 32872