ISTVÁN VÁRDAI has been honoured with several prestigious international prizes: in 2014 he won the prestigious ARD Competition in Munich. In 2009 he was awarded the Junior Prima Prize as the best young artist of the year, and in 2012 he received the prestigious Prix Montblanc awarded to the world's most promising young musician. He won the 63rd Geneva International Cello Competition, along with three special prizes: Audience Prize, “Pierre Fournier” Prize, and “Coup de Coeur Breguet” Prize in 2008, and he took third prize in the Tchaikovsky Music Competition in Moscow in 2007. In 2006 he was awarded with the special prize of the Emanuel Feuermann Cello Competition at the Kronberg Academy and received first prize at the 13th International Brahms Competition in Austria.
In the 2018/19 season, István will perform with Helsinki Philharmonic under Susanna Mälkki, Chamber Orchestra of Europe together with Gidon Kremer and Yuri Bashmet, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse under Klaus Mäkelä, and Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra under Hannu Lintu.
Since the beginning of his career, István has played with world-famous musicians and orchestras including: Mikhail Pletnov, Ádám Fischer, Zoltán Kocsis, Howard Griffiths, Gilbert Varga, and St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, The Mariinsky Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, L'Orchestre de Chambre de Genève, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Manchester Camerata, and American Symphony Orchestra. He has been invited to perform in several music festivals including, Festival of Radio France, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Verbier Festival, Schwetzingen Festival, and Budapest Spring Festival. His chamber music partners include amongst others András Schiff, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Nelson Goerner, Yura Lee, Kristóf Baráti, Shai Wosner, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Víkingur Ólafsson, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Mischa Maisky, and Dénes Várjon.
From 2004 István studied in the Class of Special Talents at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest under László Mező, and from 2005 at the Music Academy of Vienna with Reinhard Latzko. Between 2010 and 2013 he continued his studies at the Kronberg Academy with Professor Frans Helmerson. Since 2013 he has been holding a teaching position at the Academy and is also a Professor at the Music Academy in Mannheim.
His debut album of Janáček, Prokofiev and Elgar’s Cello Concerto was released in October 2009 by Ysaÿe Records. This was followed by a recording by Hännsler in 2013, where he plays works by Mendelssohn, Martinů, Paganini, Beethoven and Popper. In 2014 he released an album of both versions of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations released by Brilliant Classics. His CD released in 2015 "Singing Cello" (Hungaroton) features famous encores, and his most recent recording of Bach's solo cello suites is also released by Brilliant Classics.
Together with Kristóf Baráti, István is artistic director of the Kaposfest Chamber Music Festival in Hungary. István Várdai plays the legendary "Ex du Pré-Harrell" Stradivari built in 1673.