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  • Simon Su

István Lajkó

“A name we should take note of” according to the New Music Magazine programme on Hungarian Radio at the beginning of his career, and since then István Lajkó has won countless competitions and given many memorable concerts, ensuring that this is indeed the case. The German press has dubbed him “a wizard of the keys.”


A holder of the Junior Prima Prize, he graduated with distinction in piano from the Liszt Academy in Budapest, where his teachers were Sándor Falvai and Balázs Szokolay. He obtained a DLA (Summa cum laude) at the doctoral school of the Liszt Academy in Budapest, where his music consultant was Rita Wagner. In 2017 he gained a concert degree with distinction at the University of Music “Franz Liszt” in Weimar, winning the DAAD scholarship for his studies. His graduation concert was broadcast by German MDR Radio. In 2023 he obtained the highest possible university degree, the habilitation.


He has won the Republic of Hungary scholarship twice, the Philharmonia Fischer Annie scholarship three times, and he has also been the recipient of the Hungarian State Eötvös Scholarship. He studied in Hannover with Matti Raekallio, with whom he continued his studies at the Juilliard School of Music on a Hungarofest Klassz Scholarship. He has taken part in masterclasses by Ferenc Rados, Dmitri Bashkirov, Mikhail Voskresensky, Anne Queffélec, Matti Raekallio, Murray Perahia, Paul Badura-Skoda, Arie Vardi, and others.


He has shone in many competitions in Hungary and abroad: he won Third Prize and the De Profundis Special Prize in the Pécs International Liszt Competition, and the First Prize and Special Prize for Composers in the Carl Filtsch International Piano Competition. He won Third Prize in the International Liszt-Bartók Piano Competition in 2006, he came first in the Weiner Leó Chamber Music Competition and won a Special Prize at the European Union Piano Competition in Prague. In 2013 he won First Prize in the International Liszt-Bartók-Ligeti Competition, as well as two special prizes.


He has three times been the soloist for New Masters on Tour and has been a guest performer in many countries in Europe, China, and the United States. He has performed at the Hummel Festival in Bratislava, the Janáček Festival in Ostrava, The Budapest Spring Festival, the Chopin Festival in Pristina, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival. In 2017 he performed with Ildikó Szabó at the opening concert of the festival held in honour of Sir Alfred Brendel, who was so delighted by the concert that he has regularly imparted his advice to them ever since.


He gave a solo recital at the Rudolfinum in Prague, in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, in La Fenice in Venice, in the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, and in the Rachmaninov Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. He has worked with conductors such as Zoltán Kocsis, János Kovács, Nicolás Pasquet, Markus L. Frank, Katharina Wincor, and has performed as a soloist with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, the Concerto Budapest Orchestra, the MÁV Symphony Orchestra, the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Savaria Symphony Orchestra, the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Anhaltische Philharmonie, and the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, among others. 


In 2016 he recorded Carl Tausig’s transcription for solo piano of Liszt’s Faust Symphony for Hungaroton. The recording won the Editor’s Choice award of the British magazine The Gramophone; it was also nominated for the International Classical Music Awards and won the 40th Recording Grand Prix of the Liszt Society. Together with his regular chamber music partner, cellist Ildikó Szabó, he recorded in 2022 the complete works for cello and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven, the double CD was also nominated for the International Classical Music Awards. They play their Wigmore Hall debut concert in November 2024 with a full-Beethoven programme.


Besides performing, István Lajkó holds teaching positions as a piano professor in Berlin (University of Arts), Weimar (Franz Liszt University of Music) and Budapest (Franz Liszt Academy of Music). In 2022 he was honoured with the title of Knight for Universal Culture.

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