Sari Biro

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Sari Biro (March 24, 1912 – September 2, 1990) was a Hungarian pianist.

"I believe that a performer must be a clear channel for the composer's message and not allow his or her own personality to interfere with the composer's intentions... A performer should extend, not absorb." (Sari Biro)

Sari Biro was born in Budapest in Hungary. She began piano lessons privately at the age of six, and received a scholarship to study in the Franz Liszt Academy. There she quickly distinguished herself, so that she was chosen as the soloist in the inaugural concert of the Hungarian national broadcasting system, playing under the baton of Erno von Dohnáni.

Arriving in the US in 1939, Biro quickly established herself as a recitalist there. Based in New York, for the next 18 years she toured extensively, as well as making numerous radio broadcasts which were notable for the wide repertoire they introduced. She also made an innovative 13-week series of live television programmes in 1958, in which she talked about and performed a wide range of music. She championed both early and contemporary music, performing Giancarlo Menotti Darius Milhaud, Leon Weiner (with whom she had studied in Budapest) and, of course, Bartók, who admired her interpretations of his works. She also made the first recording by a woman of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in 1951.

In 1949, the American State Department named Sari Biro the most distinguished new citizen of the year. Also in that year, she became the only woman to perform nine piano concertos in three concerts at Carnegie Hall.

She moved to San Francisco in the late 1950s. She gave her last New York recital in 1972, but continued to give master classes until 1990.

In contrast to her fragile appearance, her playing was powerful and commanding, and the elan and sense of communication in her performances made her a powerful advocate of the neglected music that she championed

The Sari Biro Memorial Award was established in 1995 at the Franz Liszt Music Academy in Budapest, Hungary. The award is given each March 24 (Mme. Biro's birthday) in the form of a monetary prize to an outstanding young piano student at the academy.

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