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After obtaining his college diploma, János Kovács swiftly found a position as a répétiteur with the Hungarian State Opera, and then signed on as a conductor in 1976. For three years in a row (1979-81), he worked as musical assistant at the Bayreuth Festival. He also served as the Opera's chief conductor from 1987 to 1990. He regularly conducts concerts with all of Hungary's leading orchestras, and was also formerly principal conductor of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra. A regular guest conductor at the Tokyo Philharmonic since 1992, he was made its principal guest conductor in 1998. He has guest conducted in numerous European cities, including touring in Berlin and London with the Opera's company, and in Germany and Brazil, among other countries, with the Hungarian National Philharmonic. Made principal conductor of the Budapest Philharmonic in 2001, he also served as acting principal musical director in 2003, as well as from 2006 to 2007. Between 2007 and 2014 he has been the Hungarian State Opera's principal conductor.

Education and training:
Béla Bartók Vocational High School of Music – composition: István Szelényi, piano: Mariann Ábrahám (1968)
Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, qualifying as a conductor (1973)
András Kórodi, Albert Simon

Awards and recognitions:
Middle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit, civil division (2018)
Master Artist of Hungarian State Opera (2016)
Prima Primissima Award (2015)
Eternal Member of Hungarian State Opera (2010)
Bartók-Pásztory Award (2007)
Gundel Art Award (2004)
Inter-Lyra Award (2003)
Kossuth Prize (2001)
Artist of Merit (1996)
Gusztáv Oláh Commemorative Plaque (1991)
Juventus Award (1989)
Ferenc Liszt Award (1985)
Vilmos Komor Commemorative Plaque (1980)
János Kovács