Barnabás Kelemen

Barnabás Kelemen


Representation: UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand


Hungarian violinist Barnabás Kelemen is an artist of remarkable virtuosity and charismatic stage presence. With an unusually large and wide-ranging repertoire, Barnabás has given a number of Hungarian and world première performances, working with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. His varied discography has won multiple awards including a Diapason d’Or and Gramophone Award, and since 2010 he has led the Kelemen Quartet, which in 2014 won first prize at the prestigious Premio Paolo Borciani string quartet competition in Italy.


Full Biography

An artist of “innate musicality” with a technical execution that belongs ”only to the greatest” (The Guardian), Hungarian violinist Barnabás Kelemen has captured the attention of the music world. With a repertoire that ranges from classical to contemporary music, Kelemen gave the Hungarian premieres of the Ligeti and Schnittke Violin Concertos as well as the Hungarian premiere and world premiere of violin works by Gubaidulina and Kurtág.
Barnabás Kelemen collaborates with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony, Budapest Festival, Estonian National Symphony, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, Helsinki Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hungarian National Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Iceland Symphony, Irish Chamber, London Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic, Münchner Symphoniker, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Netherlands Radio, Norwegian Chamber, Philharmonia Auckland, Tapiola Sinfonietta and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony.
Barnabás Kelemen works with renowned conductors such as Olari Elts, Iván Fischer, Pietari Inkinen, Vladimir Jurowski, Tonu Kajuste, Zoltán Kocsis, Hannu Lintu, Michael Sanderling, Dmitri Slobodeniouk, Stefan Solyom, Masaaki Suzuki, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Krzysztof Urbánski and Ryan Wigglesworth. In play and lead engagements he appeared with the Budapest Festival Chamber Orchestra, Het Kamerorkest Brugge, Indianapolis Symphony, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra.
He has performed with Zoltán Kocsis at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Bozar in Brussels and Carnegie Hall in New York and regularly plays chamber music with Alexander Lonquich and Nicolas Altstaedt. In 2010 he founded the Kelemen Quartet, which won the first prize at the Premio Paolo Borciani in 2014. The quartet also received a silver medal, audience prize and the Musica Viva Grand Prize at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in 2011.
Highlights in the 2015/16 season include appearances as a soloist with the Hungarian National Philharmonic with Olari Elts, RTE National Symphony Orchestra Dublin and Alexander Shelley, Staatsorchester Reinische Philharmonie Koblenz and Daniel Raiskin, BBC Symphony Orchestra London and Ryan Wigglesworth. The Kelemen Quartet he will make its debuts at the Konzerthaus Berlin, Kölner Philharmonie Cologne, and Carnegie Hall New York. Return invitations will bring the quartet to Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Budapest, Florence, Venice and to the Wigmore Hall London.
Barnabás Kelemen’s varied discography has been received to critical acclaim. His recording of Brahms’ Sonatas for Violin and Piano with Tamás Vásáry has won a Diapason d’Or, and that of Liszt’s complete works for Violin and Piano with Gergely Bogányi received the Grand Prix du Disque 2001 by the International Liszt Society. His recording of Bartók’s Rhapsodies and Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Hungarian National Philharmonic and Zoltán Kocsis won the German Record Critics’ Award 2011. Other recent recordings include a live DVD of the complete Mozart Violin Concertos and CDs of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Hungarian National Philharmonic and Zoltán Kocsis. A recital CD with Bartók Sonatas with Zoltán Kocsis and Solo Sonata received a Gramophone Award in 2013.
Born in Budapest in 1978, Barnabás Kelemen entered the Franz Liszt Music Academy at the age of eleven. He was the Third Prize Winner of the 2001 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and received the First Prize at the International Violin Competition in Indianapolis in 2002. In recognition of his achievements the Hungarian government awarded him the Sándor Végh Prize in 2001, the Franz Liszt Prize in 2003, Rózsavölgyi Prize in 2003 and most recently the Kossuth Prize in 2012. Since 2005 he has been a professor at the Franz Liszt Music Academy Budapest and since 2014 a professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne. He is also a guest professor at Indiana University Bloomington.
He performs on a Guarneri del Gesú violin of 1742 (ex-Dénes Kovács), generously loaned by the State of Hungary.

Promoters please note: if you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please contact Hazard Chase to ensure that you receive the most up to date version.
Email: Imogen Morris



Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto no. 2 (RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Shelley)

“Blessed with a staggering virtuoso technique and a charismatic ability to communicate even the most complex music engagingly, Hungarian violinist, Barnabás Kelemen was the soloist in Szymanowski’s earthy Second Concerto. Dressed in a black frock coat and skinny trousers, Kelemen, like his fellow Hungarian Franz Liszt two centuries previously, oozed star appeal. It was not visuals alone that were striking: what impressed so much from the start was the tonal palette he demonstrated; the difference between the deep, rich voice of the G string sounded like a different instrument to the silken soaring lines he produced on the E string.”

Bachtrack (November 2015)

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Bach, Ysaÿe,  Paganini and Piazzolla solo recital Wigmore Hall

Barnabás Kelemen used every voice available to the solo violin in this remarkable recital.

The Strad (March 2016)

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Wigglesworth Violin Concerto (revised version) World Première (Hallé Orchestra/Ryan Wigglesworth)

“Barnabás Kelemen was a superb advocate for the work, relishing its moments of hyperagility as well as its prevailing heady lyricism”

The Telegraph (February 2014)

“He’s a soloist of subtlety and skill, and well able to respond the concerto’s avowed aim of exploring the lyrical aspects of the instrument”

Manchester Evening News (February 2014)

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Records Bartók’s Violin Sonatas with Zoltán Kocsis

“Kelemen’s performance certainly warrants consideration among the finest recordings of the Solo Sonata currently available. The technical brilliance of the playing, as reflected in the mesmeric clarity of the final movement is never in doubt. But Kelemen also brings a warmth, lyricism and nobility to the rest of the work.”

BBC Music Magazine (June 2013)

“[Kelemen] and Zoltán Kocsis give an extraordinary performance of the First Sonata, full of fire and drive… The Finale is a real tour de force, with Kelemen fizzing away on the G string… beautifully shaped melodic playing… a compelling performance.”

The Strad (May 2013)

“The playing is simply magical. There’s plenty of brilliance and flamboyant virtuosity from Kelemen and Kocsis but the most remarkable aspect of their recording is the extreme refinement and delicacy of quiet passages… I don’t think I’ve ever heard a record of these works that finds so much of their poetry, their subtle mystery and their range of musical colours without sacrificing anything in athleticism, energy of drive. Kelemen and Kocsis are not only successful but comprehensively so. These performances etch the light and shade of this music with such a range of tone, and a real eye (and ear) for detail, but always with longer-term musical goals in sight.”

International Record Review (May 2013)

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Discography & Repertoire

Kelemen plays Bartók

Bela Bartok: 44 Duos for 2 Violins, From Gyergyo for Flute & Piano, Hungarian Folksongs for Violin & Piano

Katalin Kokas – Violin; Zoltán Kocsis – Piano; Zoltán Juhász – Peasant Flute


Kelemen plays Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Rondos KV 261, 269, 373, Concerto for 2 Violins & Orchestra KV 190, Sinfonia concertante for Violin, Viola & Orchestra KV 364

Ferenc Erkel Chamber Orchestra / Eszter Lestak-Bedo, Katalin Kokas – Violin


Kelemen plays Bartók

Béla Bartók: Rhapsody Op. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Scherzo Op. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, Violin Concerto n° 1
Budapest Festival Orchestra; Hungarian National PO / Ivan Fischer, Zoltan Kocsis – Piano


Artist Manager

Peter Railton (London)
020 7636 5447

Assistant Artist Manager

Imogen Morris (London)
020 7636 5448