Sunday, July 8, 2018

Antal Zalai

Antal Zalai (Antal Szalai) is a Hungarian violinist, composer, and teacher born (in Budapest) on January 31, 1981.  He is known for what has been described as a perfect technique and refined artistry.  He is a former child prodigy who was offered his first recording contract while still a teenager and his musical education is very broad.  Zalai began his violin studies with his father and mother at age 5.  From age 7 to age 14 he studied, in Budapest, with Laszlo Denes.  His other teachers in Budapest were Josef Kopelman and Peter Komlos.  In fact, it has been said that he acquired his 1733 Stradivarius violin from Professor Komlos.  That violin had been owned by another Hungarian violinist, Gyorgy Garay, who is now almost completely forgotten.  Zalai graduated from the Royal Conservatory in Brussels in 2009.  He was 28 years old.  However, Zalai had been concertizing since age 12.  Along the way, he had participated in masterclasses given by Erick Friedman, Pinchas Zukerman, Tibor Varga, Lewis Kaplan, Isaac Stern, Gyorgy Pauk, and an assortment of other concert violinists.  He made his British debut in Liverpool in 2008.  That same year he made his debut in Berlin.  The venues he has played in include Carnegie Hall (New York), the Musikverein (Vienna), the Philharmonie (Berlin), and the Moscow Conservatory.  Zalai has toured almost the entire globe and played with some of the most famous names in the conducting world.  He also frequently conducts masterclasses wherever he performs.  As are so many violinists, he is a chess player.  The cadenzas he plays are very frequently his own.  Here is a YouTube video where he teams up with Russian violinist Marianna Vasileva to play the violin duos by Shostakovich – Zalai plays the second violin part.  These duos are written in a style which we do not associate with the famous Russian composer.  The (intense and emotional) performance is easily the best on YouTube.  This othervideo is also quite unique and interesting.