Tibor Varga

Tibor Varga

born on 4/7/1921 in Györ, Nyugat-Dunántúl, Hungary

died on 4/9/2003 in Grimisuat, VS, Switzerland

Tibor Varga (violinist)

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Tibor Varga (violinist)

Tibor Varga (4 July 1921 – 4 September 2003) was a Hungarian violinist and conductor born in Györ, Hungary, the birthplace greats Joseph Joachim, Leopold Auer and Carl Flesch. He studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest with Carl Flesch and Jenö Hubay. He made his public debut at the age of six, performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at the age of ten and made his first recordings at the age of 13. He began touring Europe when he was just 14. He moved to London in 1947, where he became a British citizen.


Varga had an extensive recording career with numerous labels. A recording of the Bartok Violin Concerto no. 2 with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Ferenc Fricsay is now one of his most highly-praised works. Varga collaborated with eminent conductors such as Ernest Ansermet, Leonard Bernstein, Karl Böhm, Pierre Boulez, Ferenc Fricsay, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Igor Markevitch, Georg Solti and others. He performed with the greatest orchestras such as the Philharmonia Orchestra London, and the Berlin Philharmonic. He also recorded profically for Deutsche Grammophon and EMI.

Tibor Varga gave the premières of violin concertos by Béla Bartók, Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg throughout Europe and other continents. Ernst Krenek, Max Méreaux, Matyas Seiber, Jose de Almeida Prado and other composers dedicated works to him. Writing to Varga about a performance of his Violin Concerto, Arnold Schönberg wrote : "I wish to be younger to be able to write more music for you." His conducting career led to the establishment of a chamber orchestra bearing his name in Detmold, Germany, in 1954 as well as that of the Festival Orchestra Tibor Varga in Sion. He also co-founded at the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold a now-famous string department with cellist André Navarra and violists Bruno Giuranna and Nobuko Imai.

In 1955, Tibor Varga settled in Switzerland, though maintaining his position in Detmold. In 1964, he founded the Tibor Varga Festival in Sion, the capital of the Canton of Valais in Switzerland, and founded an International Academy of Music in connection with it, specializing in interpretation (or "master") classes for accomplished young players conducted by leading soloists during the summer. In a typical year, the International Academy draws around 400 students to attend about 25 master classes. In addition, he added to the festival the annual International Violin Competition, one of the most prestigious of annual violin competitions, which attracts over 100 entrants a year. Past winners include Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Vadim Repin and Mirijam Contzen.

In 1984, Varga founded a string music department at the Conservatory of Sion. In 1991, this organization, under the name École Supérieure de Musique, separated from the Sion Conservatory to join the Fondation de l'Académie de Musique in Sion. The municipality of Sion put a magnificent older building at the disposal of the school. Within one year of the founding of the school, a leading music educator proclaimed the Varga school as "one of the three best professional violin academies in Europe." In 1998, it became a completely independent entity under the auspices of his own Foundation. In 2002 the École Supérieure de Musique merged with the Conservatory of Sion and became the Conservatoire Supérieur et Académie de Musique Tibor Varga. From its existence until 2002 Tibor Varga remained its director. It is a full-time school specializing in string instrument training. About 50 students, from eight to twenty-five in age, are generally enrolled. Numerous graduates of the school are soloists, concertmasters, directors of international music competitions, festivals and master classes Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (Gyula Stuller), New Japan Philharmonic (Tatsuo Nishie), Malta International Music Competition (Director-Volodymyr Baran), Violin and Friends International Music Festival, VFIMF and Malta International Music Master Classes, Malta [1] etc., and members of leading international-class orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic (Madeleine Carruzzo), Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Staatskapelle Dresden, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, New Japan and many others. The first female member to be admitted to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was a student of Varga.


Tibor Varga died at his home in Grimisuat, near Sion, Switzerland, on 4 September 2003. He and his wife Judith, who predeceased him, had two children. Gilbert Varga, his son, is a noted conductor, and his daughter Susan Rybicki-Varga is a cellist and teacher.

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