Event Information:

  • Fri

    The Best of Franz Liszt

    19:30QA, Doha, Katara - Cultural Village - Opera House 

    Concert by Balázs János and the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra

    The concert will feature Piano Concerto No. 1, a piece so magnificent that it took Liszt over 25 years to complete, as well as Les Préludes, the best known of Liszt’s symphonic poems. This concert is for piano enthusiasts as Liszt was considered the greatest piano virtuoso of his time. János Balázs will perform solo piano and Pablo Mielgo will conduct.


    Pablo Mielgo, conductor
    János Balázs, piano

    The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra pays tribute to Franz Liszt, one of the greatest composers in music literature. The soloist will be one of Hungary’s most in-demand pianists, János Balázs, known for his unique technical skills and lyrical performance style, and the orchestra will be conducted by Pablo Mielgo. The concert will feature both of Liszt’s popular piano concertos and his best-known symphonic poem ‘Les Préludes’, as well as a work by another world-famous Hungarian composer, Zoltan Kodály. The concert, on June 3 is a tribute not only to Liszt, but also to György Cziffra, the Hungarian piano virtuoso, who was born just over 100 years ago.

    Franz Liszt, one of the most prolific composers of all time, is also still one of the most popular. His grandiose, virtuoso works, musical poetry and innovations continue to influence music today. He was the first true musical star to tour extensively and to have Europe, from Paris to Vienna, at his feet. His piano playing revolutionised the possibilities of the instrument, and continues to inspire generations of pianists to this day. János Balázs, Hungary’s multi-award-winning pianist, is the latest to continue this tradition. The link between Liszt and Balázs is György Cziffra, the Hungarian-born virtuoso pianist, who went from being a bar pianist in Budapest to a world-famous virtuoso, who not only inherited the tradition of Liszt’s piano playing from his teachers at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, but also, through his gypsy roots, the tradition of improvisation and free, instinctive musical expression. The concert thus also pays tribute to Cziffra, whose memory János Balázs celebrates through his organisation of music and through this year’s commemorative activities around the world.

    The concert, to be held in the Opera House in Katara Cultural Village, will be a combination of magnificent virtuosity, musical immersion and pure pleasure. The evening will start with Zoltán Kodály’s ’Dances of Galanta’, a symphonic poem derived from 18th-century Hungarian folk music. Following this, Liszt’s two great piano concertos will be performed, and the evening will end with his most popular orchestral work, ’Les Préludes’. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major was composed over a period of 25 years, during which time Liszt mastered every detail of orchestral composition. The Piano Concerto No. 2 (in A major) was completed prior to the first concerto, but was titled ‘No. 2’ because its premiere took place after the premiere of the E-flat major concerto. ‘Les Préludes’ also took many years to conceive, and is a favourite of music-loving audiences, with its depiction of the complex struggle between the lows and highs of human life finally resulting in a positive, joyful ending symbolised by a triumphant march.

    The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducted by Pablo Mielgo, a conductor from Madrid, who is a true world citizen with an entrepreneurial spirit and the mission to make music accessible to everyone: the agile chief of the Orquestra Simfònica de les Illes Balears (OSIB) and the Symphony of the Americas (SOTA) was immediately engaged by orchestras around the world after his studies at the Royal Conservatory of his hometown, the Reina Sofia School and the London Guildhall School of Music. Moreover, he created a network of numerous musical friendships between Berlin and Qatar, Lucerne, Beijing and Los Angeles, with renowned musicians, who are now enriching the OSIB and SOTA concert programs.

    János Balázs’s virtuosity and free, unique musical approach have made him one of the most authentic interpreters of Liszt. He is a born soloist who announced himself to the world at the beginning of his career by winning the ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) Rising Star “Artist of the Season” award. Since then audiences have delighted at his charismatic, sparkling and revolutionary performances alongside associates with a similar approach and orientation, such as Mischa Maisky, Vadim Repin, and Jose Cura. Balázs has been awarded nearly every professional and state accolade available in Hungary and is the youngest recipient so far of the prestigious Kossuth Prize. His Young Steinway Artist title, and an accolade from the State of Poland, conferred upon him for his performance of Frédéric Chopin’s complete works, stand out from among his international awards. Since 2021 he has been a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts.

    This concert is presented by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in partnership with the Cziffra György Memorial Year organisation.


János Balázs
– Bio

On the art of
János Balázs 

Teaching and education activity


“If you have heard János Balázs perform, you must have experienced a compelling and completely unique concert. He renders a 21st-century interpretation of classical music with spell-binding and superior technic and has a singular knack for capturing the audience. By doing so, he blurs the distance between the performer and his listener. His thematically unparallelled concerts and programme repertoire reach out to crowds – also the younger generations-, which he undertakes solely for the popularisation of classical music.”

He is keen to demonstrate his improvisation skills in various areas beyond the classical stage, such as jazz, world music, or folk music, which is always imbued with classical music’s values and the 20th-century tradition of improvision.

Music critiques highlight the delicacy and diverse colours of his piano playing, his unlimited dynamic scale and his fascinating virtuosity. Attending János Balázs’ concerts is a genuine time travel, as he evokes with full force the intimate ambience of the composers and pianists of the so-called 19th century golden age, like Franz Liszt or Frédéric Chopin.

He is a returning artist of the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow, the Cologne Philharmonic, the Liszt Academy and MüPa in Budapest. He has given celebrated concerts on the stages of the Cité de la Musique, Palau de Musica, Barbican Centre, Wiener Konzerthaus and the Royal Conservatory. In the following season, he is going to collaborate with such famed orchestras and conductors as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Eötvös and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Iván Fischer and the Royal Concertgebouworkest, Mikko Franck and the Auditorium de la Maison de la Radio France.

János Balázs is a born soloist who also received the ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) Rising Star “Artist of the Season” Award. He is well able to hold the attention of the audience by himself. Nonetheless, chamber music also plays a central role in his art, where he can delight his listeners with glamorous, sparkling and out-of-the-box performances alongside friends of a similar mindset and orientation, such as Mischa Maisky, Vadim Repin, Jose Cura, or Boris Berezovsky.

As a graduate of the Budapest-based Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, János Balázs finds it crucial to pass on Liszt’s tradition to future musicians. Some major universities of the world have taken notice of this mission of his, and he has been invited by the Canadian McGill University, the Shenyang Conservatory of Music, the Hanoi Conservatory of Music to give masterclasses. He was also appointed associate professor of the Liszt Academy.

In 2016, János Balázs founded the György Cziffra Festival, which he dedicated to the conservation and care of the intellectual and musical legacy of his role model, György Cziffra. In the past five years, the festival has risen to one of the most high-ranking classical music festivals in Hungary; with its diversity of genres and the kind participation of international guest artists, it is an unmatched colour on the palette of the Hungarian culture scene.

2021, the 100th birthday of György Cziffra was declared an official memorial year by the Hungarian Government, with János Balázs as its artistic director. In collaboration with Unesco, within the framework of the memorial year 2021/2022, over a hundred events will take place in the most auspicious concert halls of 36 cities of 15 Asian, American and European countries with a hundred performers.

János Balázs is an awardee of nearly all professional and state accolades. He is so far the youngest recipient of the prestigious Kossuth Prize, and as such, he is in the same league as musicians like György Ligeti, György Kurtág, András Schiff or Iván Fischer. His Young Steinway Artist title and the accolade of the State of Poland stand out from his international awards, the latter being conferred upon him for the performance of Frédéric Chopin’s complete works. Since 2021 he has been corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts.


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  • Koncertfotók / Concert photos
  • Profilfotók / Photos
  • Egyéb fotók / Other photos
  • Videók / Videos


Why couldn’t we enjoy a Cziffra Festival ever after, even weekly or daily, if we like? – article by Sándor Olasz on the CD ImprovisArt (Sheva) by János Balázs Download

Célébration Cziffra Download

2009 concert critic  Download

Hungarian pianist conquers in his U.S. debut   Download

Anita Kántor | Phone:+36 30/450-90-64 | Email:
Szilvia Besszer | Phone: +36 30/468-88-98 | Email:

Anna Hegedűs | Phone: +36 30/565-84-42