With the exception of a stint in Italy, the young pianist Gábor Farkas is a product of pure Hungarian tradition, differing in this from the multinational training common to so many artists of international stature. Born in 1981, he began to study music at the age of five. Farkas attended the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, a Budapest conservatory with roots in Franz Liszt's own time. In the year 2000 he made an initial splash, winning the Béla Bartók Piano Competition in the Austrian spa town of Baden bei Wien. It would be the first of many competition victories; he followed it up with a win at the Hungarian National Radio Piano Competition in 2003. All this occurred before his graduation from the conservatory in 2005; he went on for a doctoral degree there in 2014, studying with Zoltán Kocsis.
By then, Farkas' career was already fully underway. There were more competition prizes-a special Hungarian state prize as young artist of the year in 2008, the Gundel Art Prize in 2009, and most significantly the Franz Liszt Award, Hungary's highest government arts prize, in 2012. His concert career blossomed with appearances around Europe (including at the Konzerthaus in Berlin) and Asia, where he performed in Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, and at the Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo. Farkas' debut recording, An Evening with Liszt, appeared in 2008 on the Warner Classics label and won the Franz Liszt International Society award for best Liszt album of the year. A live album followed, and Farkas has also recorded for the Brilliant and Hungaroton labels. In 2015 Farkas gained momentum in the American scene when he won an audition competition held by the agency New York Concert Artists & Associates. That led to a Carnegie Hall debut in 2016 and to a recording with the American label Steinway & Sons, known for its explorations of unusual piano repertory. Farkas obliged with Liszt: Opera and Song for Solo Piano, a program of Liszt's piano arrangements of his own music in other media.
© James Manheim /TiVo