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Balázs Szokolay was born into a family of musicians in Budapest in 1961. His father is a Kossuth prizewinner, composer Sándor Szokolay. Balázs started to play the piano at the age of five, taught by Erna Czövek. Later, at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, his professors included Klára Máthé, Pál Kadosa, Zoltán Kocsis, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados. Following his graduation in 1983, he won scholarships for two more years of studies in Munich and Moscow . He was instructed by Mikhail S. Voskresensky, Amadeus Webersinke, Ludwig Hoffmann and Yvonne Lefebure.
Klára Máthé with two favourite students -
Dezső Ránki and Balázs Szokolay
From 1973 to 1990, he has been a prizewinner at many international piano and chamber music competitions, including Usti-nad-Labem, Zwickau , Leeds , Brussels , Montreal , Terni , and Budapest . More recently, he has been a frequent juror in major music competitions in countries such as the Netherlands , Italy , Bulgaria , and Russia . He has given concerts and offered masterclasses in over thirty countries on four continents.
His repertoire covers a wide range of styles with a strong focus on chamber music. Among his chamber music partners are Clemens Hagen, Aurèle Nicolet, Zoltán Kocsis, Miklós Perényi, Vilmos Szabadi, Bartok string-quartett, Shanghai Quartett, Gervaise de Peyer. As a soloist, Mr. Szokolay has performed with many orchestras, including the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle. In Belgrade , he replaced at the last moment Nikita Magaloff in the Brahms Concerto No. 1. To further expand his repertoire, Szokolay played harpsichord and conducted the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in London .
He has recorded extensively with Naxos , Hungaroton, and other recording companies. One of his Grieg-Naxos CDs was named "Record of the Year" by London' s Daily Telegraph in 1992. He has played numerous radio and television broadcasts at the request, among others, of the BBC - London, the RIAS - Berlin, the AVRO and TROS - Holland, the RAI - Torino, the CBC - Canada, and the Hungarian Radio and Television.
F. Liszt Academy - after class concert -
Balázs Szokolay and his students
He has been a piano professor at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest since 1987. Some of his best students won more than 20 international prizes (including 1.). During the 1997-98 academic year, he worked as a guest professor at Yeungnam University , South Korea . In the Spring Semester of 2006, he was invited as a Visiting Scholar and piano professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey , USA .
F. Liszt award (2001)
In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Liszt Prize by the Hungarian Government.
Balázs Szokolay is a guestprofessor from 2009.october in the University of Graz.
Balazs Szokolay has given concerts more than 30
countries, his major ones included:
1979 Interforum Hungary; "Szene
der Jugend" Salzburg.
1983 Replaced Nikita Magaloff
in Belgrade (to play Brahms: Piano Concerto N°I).
1986 Schleswig-Holstein Festival.
1987 Recital at Wigmore Hall,
London; Hong Kong (City Hall);
Recitals in South Korea.
1991 With orchestra at the
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London;
Ireland tour; Mexico Festival (recital).
1992 Recital at the Concertgebouw;
Japan tour with orchestra and solo.
1993 Canadian tour;
London, in memory of T. Nikolaewa (Wigmore Hall).
1994 Concerts in Iraq and Jordan;
With Aurèle Nicolet (Mozart) in Budapest.
1995 recitals in Cleveland(USA)
Masterclasses in England and Hungary;
president of Jury at the Liszt-Bartok Piano Competition in Sofia.
1997-98 guest professor at the «Yeungnam» University in South Korea
1999 october - 1st recital
at the Liszt F. Academy Great Hall .
2000 Concerts in Germany; Korea;
Jury member in concourses in Italy and Holland
2001 after the Liszt award live
broadcasted recital in Budapest.
2002 Liszt F. Academy - recital
with TV recording ;
USA-concerts ; Japan concerts and masterclasses
2003 Bordeaux-Operahaus - Duo
concerts with Miklós Perenyi( cello)
2004 Moscow -
Scrjabin Piano Competition - Jury; CD-recording
2005 Duo recital with M. Perenyi in Dubai; Concerts with orchestra in Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia; Masterclasses in England and Finland;
Jury membership in Italy.
2006 Recitals in USA and Canada (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Jersey, Toronto)
2007 "Hommage a S.Richter" Recital at the Liszt Academy / Ballades program
2008 aug. Festival la Roque d'Antheron
2008 sept. recital on Bartók's piano / for DVD recording
He won fourteen different prizes at international
piano and chamber music competitions:
1st Prize: Usti-nad-Labem,
2nd Prize: Glasgow, Monza,
Terni (no 1 st prize given).
3rd Prize: Zwickau.
4th Prize: Leeds, Munich-ARD.
Other Prizes: Montreal, Brussels
(Queen Elizabeth Competition).