Balázs Szokolay was born into a family of musicians in Budapest in 1961. His father is a Kossuth prizewinner, composer Sándor Szokolay. Balázs started to play the piano at the age of five, taught by Erna Czövek. Later, at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, his professors included Klára Máthé, Pál Kadosa, Zoltán Kocsis, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados. Following his graduation in 1983, he won scholarships for two more years of studies in Munich and Moscow. He was instructed by Mikhail S. Voskresensky, Amadeus Webersinke, Ludwig Hoffmann and Yvonne Lefebure.
From 1973 to 1990, he has been a prizewinner at many international piano and chamber music competitions, including Usti-nad-Labem, Zwickau , Leeds , Brussels , Montreal , Terni , and Budapest . More recently, he has been a frequent juror in major music competitions in countries such as the Netherlands , Italy , Bulgaria , and Russia . He has given concerts and offered masterclasses in over thirty countries on four continents.
His repertoire covers a wide range of styles with a strong focus on chamber music. Among his chamber music partners are Clemens Hagen, Aurèle Nicolet, Zoltán Kocsis, Miklós Perényi, Vilmos Szabadi, Bartok string-quartett, Shanghai Quartett, Gervaise de Peyer. As a soloist, Mr. Szokolay has performed with many orchestras, including the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle. In Belgrade , he replaced at the last moment Nikita Magaloff in the Brahms Concerto No. 1. To further expand his repertoire, Szokolay played harpsichord and conducted the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in London.
He has recorded extensively with Naxos , Hungaroton, and other recording companies. One of his Grieg-Naxos CDs was named “Record of the Year” by London’ s Daily Telegraph in 1992. He has played numerous radio and television broadcasts at the request, among others, of the BBC – London, the RIAS – Berlin, the AVRO and TROS – Holland, the RAI – Torino, the CBC – Canada, and the Hungarian Radio and Television.
He has been a piano professor at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest since 1987. Some of his best students won more than 20 international prizes (including 1.). During the 1997-98 academic year, he worked as a guest professor at Yeungnam University , South Korea . In the Spring Semester of 2006, he was invited as a Visiting Scholar and piano professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey , USA .
In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Liszt Prize by the Hungarian Government.
Balázs Szokolay is a guestprofessor from 2009.october in the University of Graz.