Violinist, Conductor and Pedagogue of World-Wide Renown
Born on 4th July 1921 in Györ (HU), in the same region that had previously witnessed the birth of Joseph Joachim, Leopold Auer, Carl Flesch and of the eminent conductor Hans Richter. Died on 4th September at Grimisuat (CH).
Tibor Varga was six years old when he made his first public appearance. At ten, he took on his first solo role with an orchestra, giving his interpretation of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor op. 64.
1934, at the age of 13, he made his first recordings (His Master’s Voice). At fourteen he took on his first concert tours taking him all around Europe and later all over the world.
Discovered by Jenö Hubay, he was enrolled at the age of 10 at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, where he began to study with Franz Gabriel and Leo Weiner. Attracted by the conceptions of Joachim and Auer, he also maintained a long personal and musical friendship with Carl Flesch. As for Bartók, he invited the young violinist to turn the pages at his concerts and also accompanied him on the piano in a Sonata by Brahms.
When Hubay died in 1937, Varga was chosen to perform at Hubay’s memorial concert under the baton of Ernst von Dohnányi the 3rd Violin Concerto op. 99 by Hubay.
Throughout the war years, Varga devoted himself to study philosophy at the Budapest University (1939–44). Since 1935 – except the war years – strong career all over the world as a soloist, conductor (since the 1950s) and as an interpreter of chamber music.
In 1947, he settled down in England (London) and later on in Switzerland. In addition to his extensive concert activities, he had been teaching at the Royal Academy of Music London before being invited, in 1949, to become a professor of the newly-established Music Academy at Detmold (D).
Varga’s artistic and pedagogic conceptions as well as the concept of an orchestral academy were exemplary and did rapidly find adherents. In 1954, he founded at Detmold (D) the Tibor Varga Chamber Orchestra (Kammerorchester Tibor Varga), being its Artistic Director, Chief Conductor and soloist up to 1988.
In Switzerland, in 1963, he created at Sion a summer academy (Académie de Musique Tibor Varga) as well as, in 1964, the Tibor Varga Festival with annually (July–September) about 30 concerts in different towns in the Swiss Alps and with radio and television transmissions thanks to the high quality of artists and orchestras participating. In 1967, the Tibor Varga Violin Competition was established at Sion, including among its prize-winners Mirijam Contzen, Latica Honda-Rosenberg, Nam Yun Kim, Boris Kuschnir, Ji-Yoon Park and Vadim Repin. In 1988, Varga founded at Sion a High School of Music (Ecole Supérieure de Musique) numbering among its students talents of four continents.
In 2002, Tibor Varga was appointed professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz (A), where he worked actively until his death.
Tibor Varga was married with the Doctor in musicology, author and musician Angelika Varga-Behrer, who had been his companion for 20 years. According to his will, Dr. Angelika Varga-Behrer is the sole and exclusive administrator and proprietor of Tibor Varga’s artistic, intellectual and pedagogic legacy.
Tibor Varga Chamber Orchestra (Kammerorchester Tibor Varga Detmold, 1954–1988) • numerous concerts and tours in Germany and other parts of Europe (Austria, Benelux, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland etc.) • radio and television broadcast in several European countries (Benelux, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Spain) • recordings
Académie de Musique Sion (CH) (1963), one of the most important summer academies in Europe, with annually more than 400 participants in about 15 different disciplines
Tibor Varga Festival (1964–2001), international music festival located at Sion (CH) • about 30 concerts (July–September) at various places, broadcast by radio and television all over the world.
Tibor Varga Festival Orchestra (1964–2001) • symphony orchestra created by its Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Tibor Varga to perform the great symphonic and concert repertoire • radio (and television) broadcast all over the world • recordings
Tibor Varga International Violin Competition (1967) • one of the most exacting competitions in the world • prize-winners : Mirijam Contzen, Nam Yun Kim, Vadim Repin and others
Tibor Varga Foundation Grimisuat (CH) (1974–2009) • disposed of vast music archives as well as of a concert hall and a professionally equipped recording studio of international reputation
Ecole Supérieure de Musique (1988, since 2002 : Conservatoire Supérieur et Académie de Musique Tibor Varga, now part of the Lausanne University of Music), a High School of Music specialised on the formation of professional string players, attended by students from all continents.
Orchestre de l’Académie Tibor Varga (1989–2002) • with this ensemble numerous concerts and tours in Switzerland and other parts of Europe (France, Germany, Italy) • radio and television broadcast • recordings
France : Médaille d’Or de la Renaissance Française • Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres • Diplôme de Médaille d’Or avec Plaquette d’Honneur de la Société Académique d’Education et d’Encouragement, couronnée par l’Académie Française (Prix Thorlet) • Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur • Germany : Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (Cross of Merit) • Hungary : Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary • Professor honoris causa of Budapest University respectively of the Franz Liszt Music Academy (this honour had also been awarded to Leopold Auer, Pablo Casals, Edward Elgar, Emil Gilels, Ottorino Respighi, Jean Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Arturo Toscanini) • Switzerland : Prix de la Ville de Sion (1986) • Prix culturel de l’Etat du Valais
Tibor Varga is honorary citizen of different towns in France and in Switzerland.
The Etude-Caprice for 4 Violins composed by Tibor Varga for the European Rectors´ Conference at Graz – Cultural Capital of Europe – in 2003, after his death has been declared official hymn of the European University Association (EUA).
The Tibor Varga Biography is available here.