Alex Szilasi was born in Parma, Italy in 1968, of strong Hungarian musical roots. His grandfather, Imre Csenki (d. 1998), was a composer, conductor and music teacher well known for his revival and celebration of Hungarian folk music. When his parents decided to return to Hungary in 1977, nineyear old Alex spoke only Italian, but his piano playing skills suffered no language barriers: that same year, he won the national competition in rnusic school and gave his first recital in Budapest. It marked the beginning of a lifelong love affair with classical music and the unique voice of the piano.
Alex Szilasi's work has become synonymous with the music of Chopin in Hungary. With 2010 marking the bicentenary of the birth of Chopin, he was busy with international performances honouring the great Polish composer and pianist. He began his studies in Budapest at the Béla Bartók Academy of Music in Budapest, followed by the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, also in Budapest, taught by masters including Ferenc Rados, Sándor Falvai and Peter Solymos. After receiving his diploma in 1993, he toured the world, giving concerts in Austria, in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey, the United States and Canada. From 1998 to 2001, he took the chair of piano faculty at Taegu University in South Korea.
In 2001, he became the director of the collection "Esther" and the complete library of Chopin, presented by Editions Fuzeau (France).
The Chopin connection runs deep, with Alex deeply imbedded in the music at every level, from the compositions themselves and the recording of Chopin's work, to playing on the same kind of piano Chopin was known to prefer.
Alex Szilasi's commitment to the authenticity of Chopin comes through strongest when he is performing on an authentic Pleyel piano built in 1849, the year of Chopin's death. The Pleyel, configured differently than conventional keyboards of today, was Chopin's favourite model to play on, one he described as "the last word in perfection."
Built by his friend Camille Pleyel in Paris, Chopin believed the Pleyel piano was most ideally suited to his music. "When I feel in good form and strong enough to find my own individual sound, then I need a Pleyel piano," he said. Franz Liszt wrote that Chopin "particularly cherished" Pleyel pianos "for their silvery and slightly veiled sonority and their lightness of touch" and antique keyboard collectors of today assert that notes played on the Pleyel produce a unique sound, dying away quickly, resulting in a completely different texture to the music than the long, sustaining notes of today's pianos.
In 2005, Alex Szilasi performed a concert at the newly inaugurated Palace of Arts in Budapest in 2005 and presented two 19th century Pleyel pianos as a gift to the magnificent concert hall. The concert was advertised simply as: Chopin - Pleyel - Szilasi, crediting the pianomaker and piano equally with the composer and player, the heart of Szilasi's musical philosophy. Following his success at the Palace of Arts, he was invited to perform a season of concerts in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, dedicated to romanticism.
The next year, a series of four seasons made its debut: the complete works of Chopin performed by Alex Szilasi over four years, playing every piece Chopin ever wrote in honour of the approaching bicentennial anniversary of the composer's birth. In addition to these musical evenings, concerts were performed throughout Hungary in various cities, universities and museums.
From these 2006-2010 performances, four CD compilations have been released by the Hungaroton Classic label, all under the umbrella title "The Complete Bicentennial Edition of the Works of Chopin". The first is subtitled Valses (Waltzes), the second, a two-disc compilation, Mazurkas, the third contains all Polonaises, and the fourth presenting the art of Chopin's songs. Authentic Pleyel pianos are used for every recording.
In 2010 Alex Szilasi celebrated the opening concerts of the bicentenial year of Chopin's birth in Poland (Bydgoszcz 19/02/2010) and Hungary (Budapest 01/03/2010) performing on both concerts orchestral piano works of Chopin, on Pleyel P-280 Concert Grand piano, directly disposed by Pianos Pleyel factory (Paris - France). The concert was broadcasted by the MR3 Bartok national radio channel and the "DUNA TV", the national satellite TV channel.
Szilasi's credits and awards are numerous, but among them are: Soloist for Radio Hungary (1991); winning Italy's GIA competitions and the and Kawai Prize in 1994 and 1995 respectively; Hungary's Kölcsey Cultural Prize in 2005. He was also named Best Classical Musician of the Year in 2007 by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Classical Musician of the Year in 2008 by Hungary's Gramofon Classical and Jazz Magazine. In 2010, he received the Chopin Passport given by the Chopin 2010 Celebrations Office. In 2011 he has been decorated by the Minister of Culture in Poland M. Bogdan Zdrojewski with the Order for Polish Culture (Zasłuzony dla Kultury Polskiej). In 2012 he became owner of the Hungarian Gold Cross of Merit.
In 2012, he was invited to recording Chopin’s nocturnes for the red label “Real Chopin” series of the Polish Fryderyk Chopin Institute - Warsaw, (appeared in august 2012) playing on his own pianino Pleyel dated from 1847, a single instrument similar to the famous pianino Pleyel 13555 signed by Chopin, exhibited in the National Chopin Museum in Warsaw.
In 2015 he was invited to the Budapest Spring Festival, performing a concert in the prestigious Vigado Concert Hall on different Pleyel pianos, from the era of Chopin to the present time. He was the first pianist who played in Hungary on the newest ultramodern Pleyel piano designed by Peugeot Design Lab in Paris.
Since 2015, Alex Szilasi is the guest of different festivals and concert halls in the People Republic of China.
He owned yearlong radio program every week called "Chopiniana" on Radio Classic Hungary in 2009, and organize regularly romantic salons in different locations (museums, institutions, private locations).
Alex Szilasi owns a single collection of ancient pianos, among them two Pleyel pianos from Chopins time (1843, 1847) and two Erard pianos (1847, 1866).
He is co-owner of Zeneszalon Concert and Piano Ltd. in Budapest, wich is organizing concert events, and lend and sell pianos of the romantic period. (www.zeneszalon.hu)