István Várdai, the 31 year old Hungarian cellist was honoured with several prestigious international prizes: in 2008 he won the 63th Geneva International Cello Competition, along with three special prizes: Audience Prize, “Pierre Fournier” Prize, “Coup de Coeur Breguet” Prize. He took the third prize of 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. He was winner of the David Popper International Music Competition three times (2000, 2003, 2004). In 2014 he won the prestigious ARD Competition in Munich.
Since his debut concert in 1997 in The Hague, he has performed in New York, London, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Frankfurt, Jerusalem, Munich, Berlin, Geneva, Dublin, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Florence, Tokyo, Kobe, Shanghai, Beijing with great success. Along his starting career, he played with world-famous musicians and orchestras: Mikhail Pletnov, Ádám Fischer, Zoltán Kocsis, Howard Griffiths, Gilbert Varga, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Suisse Romande Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, American Symphony Orchestra. He has been invited to Santander Festival, the Gergiev Festival in St. Petersburg, the Pablo Casals Festival (Spain), Festival of Radio France (Montpellier), Bellerive Festival (Switzerland), Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Verbier Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Schwetzingen Festival and the Budapest Spring Festival. His chamber music partners include András Schiff, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Nelson Goerner, Yura Lee, Kristóf Baráti, Shai Wosner, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Mischa Maisky, Dénes Várjon, to mention just a few.
From 2004 István studied in the Class of Special Talents at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest (professor: László Mező), from 2005 at the Music Academy of Vienna (professor: Reinhard Latzko). Between 2010 and 2013 he continued his studies at the Kronberg Academy with Professor Frans Helmerson. From 2013 he is on the staff of the Academy. In the past years he attended masterclasses of Natalia Gutman, Natalia Shakhovskaya, András Schiff and János Starker.
In 2009 he was awarded the Junior Prima Prize as best young artist of the year, in 2012 he received the prestigious Prix Montblanc awarded to the world's most promising young musician. His first CD containing pieces of Janáček, Prokofiev and the Elgar cello concerto was released in October 2009 by Ysaye Records. In 2010 he recorded the cello concerto of Vanhal. On his CD released by he Hännsler label in 2013 he plays works by Mendelssohn, Martinu, Paganini, Beethoven and Popper. His CD with both versions of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations was released in 2014 by Brilliant Classcis. His CD released in 2015 ("Singing Cello" - Hungaroton) features famous encores, the most recent one Bach's solo cello suites (Brilliant Classics).
He is, together with Kristóf Baráti, artistic director of the Kaposfest Chamber Music Festival in Hungary. István Várdai plays the legendary "Ex du Pré-Harrell" Stradivari built in 1673.