Ilona Kabos (7 December 1893 – 27 May 1973) was a Hungarian-British pianist and teacher.
Ilona Kabos was born in Budapest in 1893 (some sources give her year of birth as 1894, 1898 or 1902). She studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music under Arpad Szendy (a pupil of Franz Liszt), Leo Weiner and Zoltán Kodály, and in 1915 she won the Liszt Prize. In the early part of her career, she played for Ferruccio Busoni, who also played for her. She toured widely, giving a number of premiere performances of works by such composers as Kodály, Weiner, Béla Bartók, Luigi Dallapiccola, Roy Harris, Carlos Chávez and Mátyás Seiber. She made her American debut in 1951. She taught at the Royal Budapest Academy of Music from 1930 through 1936.
Ilona Kabos was married to her fellow Hungarian pianist Louis Kentner, and they made their home in London. It is claimed that her pianism was superior to that of his. In November 1942 Kabos and Kentner gave the world premiere of Bartók's Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra in London. She premiered Robert Crawford's Six Bagatelles, Op. 3 (1948).
Ilona Kabos's greatest legacy is as a teacher of other pianists. She gave master classes, and taught both privately and at institutions such as Dartington Summer School and the Juilliard School (from 1965, at the express invitation of Peter Mennin; Kabos and Rosina Lhévinne often exchanged students).
Her better-known students include: Susan Alexander-Max, David Bollard, Robert Cuckson, Monte Hill Davis, Norma Fisher, Peter Frankl, Joan Havill, Niel Immelman, William Corbett Jones, Joseph Kalichstein, David Oei, John Ogdon, Denver Oldham, Kun-Woo Paik, Alberto Portugheis, Staffan Scheja, Roberto Szidon and Alan Weiss.
Other students included: Paul Burke, Nigel Coxe, David-Michael Dunbar, Marilyn Engle, Meira Farkas, Jonathan Miles Freeman, Otto Freudenthal, Nancy Burton Garrett, Derek Han, Robin Harrison, Emanuel Krasovsky, Risto Lauriala, Dana Muller, Thalia Myers, Joel Sachs, Jeffrey Siegel, and Sérgio Varella-Cid.
Her teaching method included scribbling on the music during her lessons. She was given to writing "bold directions in red crayon, right across the page, in huge letters, gratuitous slashes". The crayon was actually a china marker, wrapped in paper.
A hostel for Ilona Kabos's students was established in Finchley, North London, by Charles Napper.
She died in London in 1973, aged 79.
In 1968 Serge Tcherepnin wrote a piano piece for her, called simply "For Ilona Kabos".
Ilona Kabos made very few recordings. They include:
- a record of a 1952 New York Town Hall concert, with works by:
- Liszt's Gnomenreigen (live, Budapest, 1956)
- Sir Michael Tippett's Piano Concerto (BBC; undated)
- J.S. Bach: Concerto in C major for Two Claviers, BWV 1061 (with Gina Bachauer).
- Music Web International
- Arbiter Records
- Andre Tchaikovsky – Composer
- "Concerts", The Times, 14 November 1942, p. 8
- Andrea Olmstead, Juilliard: a history
- Anthony Maydwell, Piano Teaching: A Guide for Nurturing Musical Independence
- Curtis Institute of Music
- London Masterclasses
- Piano Summer School
- Audiofon Records
- UK Piano Tuners
- Amherst Bulletin
- Piano Accompanists
- Piano Clips
- SKANDINAVISKA FÖRENINGENS KONSTNÄRSHUS
- University of Texas at Austin
- Arts Management Group
- , Tel-Hai International Piano Master Classes
- Bach Cantatas
- Thalia Myers.com
- Keyboard Conversations
- Bach Cantatas
- John Robert Brown
- IMDb: Ilona Kabos
- Bartok Records