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. 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.
In 1962 he made his USA debut 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.
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 has performed chamber music with Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-yo Ma, Isaak Stern, Henryk Szeryng, Jozsef Szigeti, Yuri Bashmet, and Dietrich -Fischer Dieskau, among others.
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).
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.