György Orbán was born in the Transylvanian city of Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș) in 1947 and enrolled at the Kolozsvár (Cluj Napoca) Academy of Music in 1968 to study under Sigismund Toduta and János Jagamas. After graduating in 1973, he remained at the academy as a teacher of music theory until 1979, when he left Romania and settled in Budapest. There, he started out working as the music editor of the Music Publishing Company, and then went on to teach music theory and music composition at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music between 1982 and 2009. In 1989, at the UNESCO Tribune Internationale des Compositeurs in Paris, his Triple Sextet proved the most noteworthy of all the pieces presented at the music composition competition. Although he is primarily known for his choral works, his oeuvre boasts many songs, four oratorios, ten masses, two dozen motets, 90 assorted choral works and an opera (Prince Pikkó).
His work has won him many distinctions, including the Bartók-Pásztory Award (1991), the Ferenc Erkel Award (2002), the Artisjus Award (2005) and the Kossuth Prize (2014).