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Born in Budapest in 1968, Zsolt Hamar began playing piano at the age of six and later studied music composition at the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Music. Moving on to the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, he studied music composition under Emil Petrovics and conducting under Ervin Lukács and Tamás Gál, graduating with honours in 1995. In that same year, he won second place and the audience prize at Hungarian Television's Eighth International Conducting Competition. He took another second prize in 1996, at the conducting competition held in the Spanish city of Cadaqués, and went on win Portuguese Radio's International Conducting Competition outright in 1997. He has conducted nearly all of Hungary's symphony orchestras and regular takes the podium at the Hungarian State Opera. In the autumn of 1997, at the recommendation of musical director Zoltán Kocsis, he was appointed first permanent conductor of the Hungarian National Philharmonic. In September 1999, he took another first place at the Sixth Antonio Pedrotti International Conducting Competition in Trento. His regular invitations to concert halls across Europe, and to serve as assistant to Lorin Maazel at the Salzburg Festival, attest to his triumphs abroad. A regular fixture at the Hungarian State Opera since 2001, he also accepts engagements to guest conduct in Italy, the United States and Japan. Between 2004 and 2007, he served as first conductor at the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, at whose helm he toured Italy and other European countries. Noteworthy among his many international appearances are those with the Bruckner Orchester in Linz, the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Japan and the Mozarteumorchester in Salzburg. He has also been a frequent guest in Basel and Merano, as well as many other European centres of music, and has conducted concert tours of Canada and the United States. In 2005, the Pannon Philharmonic recorded the 1893 Weimar version of Mahler's First Symphony under his baton under the Hungaroton label. As recognition for his work, he was awarded the Liszt Award in 2003 and the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. His Opernhaus Zürich debut came in 2007, and he has conducted several premieres and revivals there since then. With the 2012/13 season, he started to fulfil a five-year contract as chief music director at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. In 2016, he also taught as a professor in the conducting course at the International Bartók Seminar and Festival in Szombathely.
Zsolt Hamar