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Csaba Erdélyi

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CSABA ERDÉLYI (12th year: Viola, Chamber), born in Hungary, made musical history when, in1972, he won the prestigious London Carl Flesch Violin Competition with the viola – the first, and so far, the only time. Lionel Tertis, who was present at the finals, called Erdélyi “a great ambassador for the viola and for his country.” Erdélyi’s international career began, he was invited by Joseph Szigeti and Rudolph Serkin to the Marlboro Festival (USA) where he also worked with Pablo Casals. A viola student of Pál Lukács and subsequently Yehudi Menuhin and Bruno Giuranna, Erdélyi became Menuhin’s partner in concertos and chamber music, playing together in several countries. Menuhin wrote to Benjamin Britten: “Erdélyi is an invaluable link between the two great musical cultures of Eastern and Western Europe.” Erdélyi has performed in concerts and recordings with such world-renowned soloists as Rachel Barton, Joshua Bell, Maurice Gendron, Franco Gulli, Ian Hobson, Yo-Yo Ma, George Malcolm, Jessye Norman, András Schiff, Sándor Végh, among others. He was the viola soloist in the film score of Amadeus, with Sir Neville Marrriner conducting the Academy of St. Martinin-the-Fields. Erdélyi has recorded for Concordance, Decca, EMI, Hungaroton, Lyrita, Nimbus, Philips records. He played viola concertos with the leading British orchestras with Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Charles McKerras, Riccardo Muti, Kurt Sanderling conducting. Csaba Erdélyi was principal viola of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London in the 1970s, and he was guest principal viola of the BBC Symphony, invited by Gennady Rozhdestvensky. When Sir Georg Solti invited Erdélyi to the principal viola post in the Chicago Symphony, he declined in order to embark on a new career as the violist of the London-based Chilingirian Quartet, as well as professor of viola at the Guildhall School of Music (1980-1987). As guest violist, he performed with the Pauk-Frankl-Kirshbaum Trio, Fine Arts Quartet, Kocian Quartet, Végh Quartet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano. 


Csaba Erdélyi moved to the USA in 1987. As Professor of Viola and Chamber Music he taught at Indiana University, Rice University, Butler University, and Bowling Green State University. He has held master classes in major conservatories on all five continents. Professor Erdélyi has a reputation as an extremely dedicated and caring pedagogue, who attracts fine students both nationally and internationally. His former students can be found in prestigious positions in music performance and education all over the world. A selection of Professor Erdélyi’s masterclasses can be viewed at  


Csaba Erdélyi is respected worldwide as an authority on the performance of the music of Béla Bartók.  For over 20 years he has researched the manuscript of the composer’s last masterpiece, the Viola Concerto which was left in its first draft. With the help of Bartók scholar, Elliott Antokoletz and composers Péter Eötvös and György Kurtág he restored and orchestrated the concerto in the purest, most authentic manner. Former violist of the Kolisch-quartet, Eugene Lehner, friend of Bartók, praised Erdélyi’s score and recording as “an invaluable service to Bartók and all violists.” A score published by Promethean Editions  and a CD recorded in 2001 with Erdélyi and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra continue to receive worldwide professional acclaim. In 2017, Erdélyi’s substantially revised version, “Bartók Viola Concerto – Restoration and Orchestration 2016” received its European Premiere by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Berlin Philharmonic Hall. The orchestra’s music director, Sir Simon Rattle wrote: “I am in total agreement with the opinions of György Kurtág and Pierre Boulez that Erdélyi’s score is the most faithful realization of Bartók’s last masterpiece that was left in draft.” 


For over 20 years Csaba Erdélyi has been serving as principal viola of both the Indianapolis Chamber  Orchestra and Sinfonia da Camera at the University of Illinois. His favorite instrument is a magnificent viola, tailor-made for him by master luthier Joseph Curtin in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1991.

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