Budapest, 5 January 1948
Miklós Perényi's exceptional musical talent was discovered early. In 1955, at the age of seven, he was already a member of the preparatory class at the Music Academy, where Dávid Popper's onetime pupil, Miklós Zsámboki taught him. In the 1959/60 academic year his teacher retired, and from that time the young cellist was taught by Ede Banda. He gained his artist's diploma as Banda's pupil in 1964. Parallel with his studies in Budapest, between 1960 and 1962 he also participated in Enrico Mainardi's postgraduate master class at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome. The diploma concert concluding his studies in Rome took place in the summer of 1962, when he was fourteen.
His career as a performer began in the early period of his years at the Music Academy. He was only nine years old, and still studied with Zsámboki, when in 1957 he gave his first independent solo concert. The critics at the time used superlatives in describing the child prodigy's surprisingly mature, intense playing of Bach. In the repertoire of his early concerts, besides the works of Bach, there were also important cello compositions from the classic and romantic periods. At his Budapest diploma concert he played among other works Haydn's Cello Concerto in D major, while in Rome, besides the Bach solo works, he also performed Chopin's Sonata for Cello and Piano. After his graduation in Rome, he received an invitation from the orchestra of the Santa Cecilia Academy, and performed with them Lalo's cello concerto still in the same year. This concert marked the beginning of his career abroad.
Perényi gained second place in the Budapest Casals cello competition in 1964. In the same year he became acquainted with the world-famous Catalan cellist in whose honour the competition was named, who invited him several times to his summer courses, and whose radiating artistic personality had a great influence on the young Hungarian cellist. In 1965 in Zermatt in Switzerland, in 1966 as a private pupil with a Ford scholarship in Puerto Rico, and between 1969 and 1972 at the Marlborough music festival, Perényi had opportunities to deepen his knowledge of music and cello playing with Casals's help.
He endeavoured to widen his knowledge continuously even after the end of his formal studies. It is an important part of his artistic approach that the process of learning can never end: playing music and becoming acquainted with the approaches of fellow musicians frees the imagination and motivates further advances in one's thinking. He came across this phenomenon while still a child, at the time of his first concerts, where he was accompanied by Mária Comensoli. Thereafter Tibor Wehner became his partner; Perényi made his first recording with him. Between 1962 and 1982 he often played with Loránd Szűts, and from the mid-seventies found recurring chamber music partners among the members of the new generation of pianists (Zoltán Kocsis, Dezső Ránki, András Schiff, Jenő Jandó, Imre Rohman). On occasion he played with Tamás Vásáry, István Lantos, Ilony Prunyi, and from among the youngest pianists, with Péter Nagy and Gábor Csalog. His current pianist partner is Dénes Várjon.
Besides his concerts in Budapest and the provinces, he has accepted countless European invitations, and also toured North and South America, Japan and China. He appeared with such excellent conductors as Carlo Zecchi, Massimo Pradelli, Neville Marriner, Vaclav Neumann, Herbert Blomstedt, Peter Maag, or from among the Hungarians Sándor Végh, István Kertész, Péter Eötvös, János Ferencsik, András Mihály, and Iván Fischer. His concert repertoire encompasses the whole of the cello literature, from Bach to contemporary works. He has often played a pioneer role in getting modern works known: in 1973 he played the cello part in the Hungarian premiere of Lutoslawski's Concerto, and in 1981 of Berio's Cello Concerto. The original premiere of Penderecki's 2. Cello Concerto is also connected with his name. György Kurtág dedicated to him, as well as to Zoltán Kocsis and Péter Eötvös. the Double Concerto composed in 1990.
Besides giving concerts, Perényi has made many recordings for Hungaroton, Teldec, Decca, Erato, Sony Classic and Quint.
His rich career as an artist is made complete by his pedagogical work. He has taught in the cello department of the Music Academy since 1974. In the past decades he has participated in the more informal summer courses as well. He shared his experiences with young Hungarian and foreign cellists at the Pécs Jeunesses Musicales music camp between 1975 and 1979, and for twelve years from 1985 onwards at the Szombathely Bartók Seminar. As recognition for his teaching work, in 1992 he was appointed university professor. Besides giving concerts and teaching, he also composes. This work is one of the stages in the process of permanent learning, which also influences, helps and motivates his activity as a performer. He has composed solo cello pieces, chamber music for wind instruments and works for larger chamber ensembles alike. His most recent composition is called Ritornello per 21.
In the course of the years János Perényi was awarded several artistic prizes for his diverse artistic activities. In 1980 he received the Kossuth Prize, and in 1987 the prize that means most to him, the Béla Bartók-Ditta Pásztory Prize.