Ligeti studied violin and conducting at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. He won the First Prize at the Leo Weiner Violin Competition and in 1980 at the Bloomington. He graduated in 1979 as conductor and was awarded the Sir Georg Solti Scholarship, studying with Osterreicher in Vienna and later with Igor Markevich.
In 1985 he became Associate Conductor to the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, succeeding Gyorgy Lehel as Chief Conductor in 1989, a position he held until 1993, when he became Chief Guest. With the Budapest Symphony he gave tours to Great Britain, Japan and Korea, and the orchestra’s first visit to Australia in 1994. In 1997 he became the Music Director of the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra.
Worldwide he has conducted a number of major orchestras, including the Dresden Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Symphony, BBC Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic (including a tour to France), Israel Philharmonic, Bergen Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Sapporo and Nagoya Philharmonics, Nouvelle Orchestre de Paris, Academia Santa Cecilia and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
He has enjoyed a close relationship with Claudio Abbado, beginning when he worked with Abbado and the Mahler Youth Orchestra; at Abbado’s invitation he has conducted concerts and opera at the Wien Modern during the 90s.
He has recorded many CDs, especially of Hungarian music, for companies such as BMG Conifer, Naxos Records, Hungaroton and Radioton, as well as numerous recordings for radio and television worldwide. With the Budapest Sinfonietta, drawn from the Symphony, he has conducted and recorded a considerable repertoire of 20th Century music.
András Ligeti was with the Budapest State Opera between 1977 and 1985, firstly as concertmaster then as Chief Conductor, where he performed much of the central repertoire. He also conducted at Saarbrücken. In 1998 he made his UK operatic début with a new production of Carmen for Opera North, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. In 1999 he also gave acclaimed performances of The Damnation of Faust at the Perth Festival with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. In 2001 he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the WASO and returned to Belfast for concerts with the Ulster Orchestra. He returned to the English Northern Philharmonia in 2003 and conducted again in Belfast. In 2004 he conducted performances of Bluebeard's Castle and The Miraculous Mandarin in London and he returned to the Orchestra of Opera North this year.
In 2005, he was invited to be the Music Director of Taipei Symphony Orchestra.