“Ildikó Szabó is an extraordinarily talented cellist and musician…”
Alfred Brendel, pianist, poet, and author.
“Her intelligence, high instrumental level, natural musicality, and humour and charm, stand her apart…”
Gary Hoffmann, cellist
Larsen Strings for Cello
“Her technique is impeccable. She has proven herself a true artist who utterly enjoys being on stage and manages to perform to the absolute best of her capabilities in front of an audience”, says Iván Fischer who has collaborated with her on multiple occasions, where she performed as a soloist with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. She has also performed alongside the Hungarian National Philharmonic, the Concerto Budapest, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, the Porto Symphony Orchestra, the Magdeburgische Philharmonie, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. She gained special recognition last season by making two jump-ins within two weeks: she played the Brahms Double Concerto with Jú lia Pusker and the Hungarian Radio Orchestra under the baton of Tamás Vásá ry and the 2nd Concerto by Shostakovich on a 2-day-notice with the State Theatre Meiningen.
Highlights of the 2022/23 season include a Bach-project-concert at the invitation of Jan Vogler in Schloss Neuhardenberg, a performance of Weinberg’s recently discovered Concertino at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg to mark the 60th anniversary of the German Foundation for Musical Life, and a performance of the Kodály solo sonata and duo with violinist Stephen Waarts in the Hungarian Radio. In addition, a recital at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, chamber music with Tabea Zimmermann in Schloss Elmau, and a return to festivals such as Open Chamber Music Prussia Cove and Kronberg Festival.
Ildikó , who stems from a family of great musical tradition grew up in a true hotspot for Hungarian musical culture. Her grandfather, Csaba Szabó , was active as a composer, musicologist, university professor, and conductor and was taught by former students of Zoltán Kodály. Ildikó s father, Pé ter Szabó , currently holds the position of Solo Cellist of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. He previously held the same position at the Camerata Salzburg under the direction of Sándor Végh. From the age of 11, Ildikó studied with László Mező at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. Over the course of four years and parallel to her studies with László Mező she attended master classes with János Starker in Bloomington (Indiana, USA), before she began her studies with Jens Peter Maintz at the Berlin University of the Arts in 2011. János Starker attested to his compatriot’s exceptional talent with the potential for a world career as early as 2007. In the meantime, Ildikó Szabó has lived up to this claim.
She has won prizes at 16 international competitions based in Europe, including First Prizes at the Popper Cello Competition, the International Cello Competition Antonio Janigro, the Alfredo e Vanda Marcosig European Cello Competition, and the Liezen International Cello Competition. Her performance at the International Pablo Casals Cello Competition rendered her the most highly decorated virtuosa: in addition to a 2nd Prize she received the Audience Award and seven additional Special Awards. The German newspaper “Rheinische Post” referred to her in 2018 as “one of the most exciting talents of the new generation.”
From 2018, she continued her studies at the Hochschule fü r Musik “Franz Liszt” Weimar with Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, who also promoted her to the position of teaching assistant: “Her technique is impeccable, her sound is warm and flexible and she feels at home in all musical styles from baroque to contemporary music. Her interpretations are both intelligent and heartfelt.” For the winter semester 2020/21, she had also taken up a deputy professorship at the University of Music and Theatre Hamburg.
Ildikó Szabó has a strong connection to Germany, the capital city in which she resides. This connection draws on a series of competition successes and grants which include the TONALi Grand Prix Hamburg (2012) as well as scholarships from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (2013-2021) and the German Music Competition (2016) and a Special Award for the Best Interpretation of a Commissioned Work at the Felix Medelssohn-Bartholdy Competition in Berlin (2018). At times she has played over 30 recitals throughout Germany – including in the Konzerthaus Berlin at the invitation of her mentor Alfred Brendel. She has also performed at the Festival in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the Rheingau Festival, the Heidelberger Frü hling, and the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival. Previous international appearances include performances at the Verbier Festival, the International Holland Music Sessions, the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival Los Angeles, the International Bach Festival in Las Palmas, the Chamber Music Festival Krzyżowa-Music in Poland, and the Menuhin Festival Gstaad.
Szabó has a particular passion for Hungarian and Transylvanian repertoire. To this end, she has developed personal relationships with Gyö rgy Kurtág and Pé ter Eö tvö s. Her discography for the record label Hungaroton reflects said affinity: after making her debut CD ”Dance of the Eleves” (2008) at the age of only 14, she recorded the cello double concerto by the Hungarian late romantic composer Emánuel Moó r in 2014. And in 2020, she embarked on an exploratory journey of her musical roots with the solo album “Heritage”. The album features world premiere recordings of works by Gyö rgy Kurtág (“She is both curious and flexible, mastering the pieces while at the same time feeling the music.”) and Csaba Szabó . Alfred Brendel described the solo CD – which was nominated for the German Record Critics’ Award – as “substantial interpretations by a very special young cellist.” So it comes as no surprise that the next recording project also came about at his suggestion: the complete works for cello and piano by Beethoven are to be released in March 2023 with the pianist and long-time chamber music partner István Lajkó .
Ildikó’s advocacy of contemporary repertoire is further highlighted by her involvement in numerous premiere performances including the Budapest premiere of Mikló s Ró zsa’s Cello Concerto (1968) in 2019. For the 2022/23 season, Ildikó Szabó has commissioned a new work from the young composer Petra Szászi, written for her duo with the guitarist Jesse Flowers. After the world premiere in Hamburg (November 2022), the duo will also give concerts in Berlin and Blaibach, as part of the German Federal Government’s “Neustart Kultur” program.
Ildikó Szabó has performed in numerous internationally acclaimed concert halls including the Mariinski-Theater St. Petersburg, the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus in Las Palmas, the Elbphilharmonie and the Laieszhalle in Hamburg, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Casa da Musica in Porto as well as the Liszt Academy and the Palace of Arts Budapest. In the 2019/2020 season, she performed regularly at the Fondation Louis Vuitton as a laureate of Gautier Capucon’s “Classe d’Excellence”. She has performed under the batons of conductors including Iván Fischer, Michael Sanderling, Luciano di Martino, András Keller, Zsolt Hamar, Tamás Vásá ry, and Leo McFall. She has cooperated with virtuosos such as Arnold Steinhardt, Ferenc Rados, Kirill Gerstein, Tabea Zimmermann, Viviane Hagner, Volker Jacobsen, Claudio Bohó rquez, Matthias Schorn, and Dénes Vá rjon on numerous chamber music projects.
Since 2020, Ildikó Szabó has been continuing her studies with Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt at the Kronberg Academy. Her studies there are made possible by the Christa Verhein Foundation and the arteMusica Foundation. She plays an Antonio Sgarbi cello (Rome, 1894) which has been on loan to her by the German Fund for Musical Instruments. Ildikó Szabó is a Larsen Strings artist.
View: A glimpse into my world: Ildikó Szabó. Courtesy of Kronberg Academy.
Since 2020 Ildikó Szabó has continued her studies at the Kronberg Academy with Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt. Her studies there are made possible by the Christa Verhein Foundation. She currently plays an Antonio Sgarbi cello (Rome, 1894) which, since 2013, has been on loan to her by the German Fund for Musical Instruments.
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