“I have seen Zsolt Hamar in action in Budapest. He is one of the most dynamic, precise, intelligent of young conductors I have heard. I would recommend him wholeheartedly und unreservedly” – Sir Yehudi Menuhin.
Zsolt Hamar began studying piano at the age of six, and by the time he was a teenager was already composing music. At the age of 14 he was accepted as a composition student at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest.
In 1987, he entered the Franz Liszt Academy of Music as a composition student of the Hungarian composer and professor Emil Petrovics. He won a prize in the Zoltán Kodály Composer Competition in Hungary and was commissioned to write music for the Zoltán Kodály State Foundation.
In 1991, he added conducting to his course of studies, and in 1992 he was appointed a conductor’s assistant of the Academy’s own symphony orchestra.
In 1993, he graduated with First Class Honors in music theory, and in 1994 with similar honors as a composer, and in 1995 as a conductor.
At that point, he began to conduct widely in Hungary, all the leading Hungarian Orchestras. He appeared also abroad with the Tirgu Mures (Romania) Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cadaques Symphony Orchestra in Spain (where he won two prizes in the International Conductors’ Competition there in 1996), and the Dortmund and the Berlin Symphonies in Germany.
In 1995, Zsolt Hamar entered the Eighth Hungarian Television International Conductors’ Competition. The public voted Hamar its Public Prize as the favorite conductor, while the jury awarded him Second Prize and the special prize for the best performance of a work by Béla Bartók.
In 1995, he worked with the late Lord Yehudi Menuhin in the Gala Concert of the World Music Day. Afterwards, Menuhin wrote, “He is one of the most dynamic, precise, intelligent of young conductors I have heard.”
In 1997, he became the First Permanent Conductor of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra (the country’s most prestigious) at the invitation of its co-founder and music director Zoltan Kocsis.
In 1998 Zsolt Hamar assisted Lorin Maazel for Verdi’s Don Carlos at the Salzburger Festspiele.
In 1999 he won another important international award, First Prize of the International Antonio Pedrotti Conductors’ Competition in Trento, Italy. The win was followed by a number of engagements to conduct in Italy.
Zsolt Hamar has become a regular guest at various distinguished concert halls in Europe, also in Japan and in the USA.
He works with important orchestras such as Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Philharmonisches Orchester Dortmund, Vlaams Radio Orkest, Lisboa Radio Orchestra, Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento, Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, Vestjysk Symfoniorkester, Slovenian Philharmonic, Warsaw Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cadaques Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Orchestra del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiener Kammerorchester, and Wiener Akademie. He conducted concerts with the Bruckner Orchestra in the Brucknerhaus Linz where he was acclaimed as “sensation as a conductor” and “conductor of top quality” in the Austrian Press.
From 2000 until 2009 September Zsolt Hamar was general music director of Pannon Philharmonics – Pécs. He launched one of the most successful and most acclaimed initiative there which become famed throughout Hungary, the “Help! Classical Music” series getting even the youngest ones acquainted with classical music.
Since 2001, Zsolt Hamar is the conductor at the Hungarian State Opera House. He is constantly guest at international opera houses, too, like at the Teatro National de Sao Carlo in Lisbon, at the Teatro Treviso with “Don Giovanni”, he also conducted at the Oper Frankfurt “Tiefland” of Eugene D’Albert and a new production of Verdi’s “I Masnadieri” with 9 performances in total.
Since 2009 he is guest professor of the conductor department of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest.
In 2007 he had a very successful debut in Zürich Opera House. Since then he has conducted many performances, both premiers and revivals, and up to now he works as a permanent conductor there.
From the season of 2012/2013 he is General Music Director of the Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden.
Zsolt Hamar was honoured by the Cultural Minister with the Franz Liszt Award of the Hungarian republic in 2003 and with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Hungarian Republic by the President of Hungary in 2006.