Tibor Varga

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Tibor Varga
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General information
Website http://www.tiborvarga.ch

Tibor Varga (born July 4, 1921 in Győr , Hungary ; † September 4, 2003 in Grimisuat , Switzerland ) was a violinist , violin teacher and conductor from Hungary .


Tibor Varga received his first violin lessons at the age of two and a half from his father Lajos, who in turn was an excellent violinist. Due to a war injury, Lajos Varga had to forego a concert career and established himself as a violin maker.


Having become aware of Varga's talent, Jenő Hubay brought the ten year old to the Franz Liszt Music Academy in Budapest . There he studied with Franz Gábriel , members of the Waldbauer Quartet, Zoltán Kodály and Leó Weiner . After Hubay's death (1937), Varga played Hubay's 3rd Violin Concerto op.99 in a memorial concert conducted by Ernö Dohnányi , who had succeeded Hubay in 1934 as rector of the Liszt Academy.

After completing his music studies at the Budapest Music Academy, Varga devoted himself to several years of philosophy at the University of Budapest during the war.

Concert career

Varga's first public appearance was at the age of 6, and he made his orchestral debut at the age of ten with Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto op.64 . From the age of 14 he went on concert tours abroad until his steep career as a violin soloist was suddenly interrupted by the Second World War . Immediately after the end of the war, he resumed concert activities and became one of the world's most sought-after soloists. He performed under the most important conductors of his time, some of whom he was also friends of. In addition to an unusually broad classical repertoire, which included all major violin concertos as well as the important sonatas and lecture pieces, Varga cultivated the music of contemporary composers from the start. The violin concertos and other works by Béla Bartók , Alban Berg and Arnold Schönberg owe their real breakthrough in international musical life to Varga. He presented them - partly as premieres - at home and abroad: Among other things, he designed the first performance of Alban Berg's Violin Concerto in Australia and the European premiere of Schönberg 's Violin Concerto in 1949, about which the composer expressed himself in an enthusiastic letter of thanks (Schönberg, letters ) . Varga interpreted both concerts and Shostakovich's violin concerto as part of the BBC's Proms in London's Royal Albert Hall, along with other works . In addition, Varga gave the Austrian premiere of Stravinski's Violin Concerto and the world premieres of numerous compositions, some of which are dedicated to him, including the violin concertos by Boris Blacher , Ernst Krenek , Max Méreaux , Gösta Nystroem , Almeida Prado , Mátyás Seiber and Winfried Zillig .

Tibor Varga has also emerged as a conductor since the 1950s, for example with the ensembles of the Tibor Varga Chamber Orchestra , Orchester du Festival Tibor Varga and Orchester de l'Académie Tibor Varga , which he headed as chief conductor and artistic director. From 1989 to 1993 he was artistic director of the Orchester des Pays de Savoie . In addition, Varga was guest conductor of internationally renowned orchestras until recently.


Varga made his first records at the age of 13 and performed regularly on the radio while he was still a student at the Budapest Music Academy. After settling in London in the late 1940s, he made recordings for internationally known labels, including a. with the Philharmonia Orchestra London , the Berlin Philharmonic and other important orchestras as well as well-known piano partners, including Gerald Moore . The recordings of the Violin Concerto No. 2 by Bartók under Ferenc Fricsay as well as the violin concertos by Beethoven , Bruch , Mozart , Nielsen , Paganini , and Tchaikovsky are still references today. Leading international broadcasters broadcast Varga's appearances in (live) broadcasts and also invited him regularly to studio productions.

Educational activity

Immediately after the end of the war, Varga was a co-founder and first professor of a music academy in his hometown Győr that was affiliated to the Budapest Franz Liszt Music Academy . From 1949 to 1986 he was professor for violin and chamber music at the Northwest German Music Academy in Detmold , which was founded in 1946 and whose string department achieved international renown under his leadership. Since the early 1950s, Varga has acted as jury member and president in the world's leading violin and chamber music competitions. In addition, he regularly gave master classes at the Darmstadt Summer Courses , in London, Paris, Salzburg ( Mozarteum ), Siena ( Accademia Musicale Chigiana ) and other cities in Europe as well as in the USA and repeatedly gave public lectures on musical topics. In 1963 he founded an international summer academy ( Académie de Musique Tibor Varga ) in Sion, Switzerland , followed a year later by the Tibor Varga Festival (1964–2001), which, with its annual concerts all over the world, was one of the most important international summer festivals. The Tibor Varga International Violin Competition, which was founded in 1967 and was held annually during Varga's lifetime and is one of the most important of its genre, has produced numerous international artistic personalities. Since 1988 Varga has been teaching at the Ecole Supérieure de Musique Sion, which he founded and which he also served as director. In addition, Varga worked on behalf of the French and Portuguese ministries of culture as an artistic and educational advisor. From October 2002 he held a professorship for violin at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz . Tibor Varga's best-known students include Lukas David , Mirijam Contzen , Latica Honda-Rosenberg and Hans Maile . Long-time Varga student Madeleine Carruzzo made history as the very first woman to join the ranks of the Berliner Philharmoniker .



Tibor Varga was an honorary citizen of several cities in France and Switzerland. Germany, France, Switzerland and Hungary honored him with high awards, including the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class, the Order of Arts et Lettres and the Légion d'Honneur , the Valais State Prize for Culture (1994) and the Order of Merit of the Hungarian State. The University of Budapest and the Franz Liszt Academy Budapest awarded him the title of honorary professor , with which before him, among others, Edward Elgar , Emil Gilels , Richard Strauss and Arturo Toscanini were honored.

The Etude-Caprice for 4 violins, composed by Varga on the occasion of the European Rectors' Conference Graz in 2003, became the official anthem of the European University Association (EUA) after his death .


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