Hungarian pianist Sari Biro’s talent for the piano was evident by the age of four. Her first professional engagements were performances for the neighbors, and she was amply paid in candy. She soon began lessons at Budapest’s Fodor Music School with Gyorgy Kalman, who had studied with a pupil of Franz Liszt. At thirteen, she performed the Chopin E minor Concerto with the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Istvan Kerner conducting. Biro was awarded a scholarship to the Franz Liszt Royal Academy of Music, and received an Artist Diploma in 1930, at the age of twenty. Of her graduation recital, Budapest’s Pesti Naplo wrote, “She is a fully independent talent, whose artistic taste, lofty imagination and virtuosity secure her a distinguished place (among) the great pianists.” Biro was heard throughout Europe in recitals and with orchestras in Berlin, London, Warsaw, Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, The Hague, Zurich, Stockholm, Salzburg, Prague, Paris, and Vienna. She was also frequently featured on Hungarian Radio’s broadcasts, but the recordings of these performances were destroyed during WWII.

Biro immigrated to the United States in 1939 and gave her debut recital in New York on May 6, 1940. The critics were unanimous in their praise, and these reviews launched her American career. The New York Times wrote, “Sari Biro…must be reckoned among the foremost women exponents of the keyboard….” Soon after, she was a soloist in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #5 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. In the ensuing years, Biro played hundreds of recitals in the United States, Europe, South America, Mexico, and Cuba; and was soloist with numerous orchestras. New York’s WABF, the first commercial radio station to broadcast live classical music on FM, inaugurated these broadcasts with thirteen weekly live recitals by Biro. In 1949, she performed nine piano concerti in three consecutive programs at Carnegie Hall, the only woman to do so. She gave the New York premiere of the Milhaud Concerto No. 2 and Leo Weiner’s Concertino. Previously that year, the U.S. State Department named her the “most distinguished new citizen of the year.”

Subsequently, she appeared on television in New York, and presented a series of thirteen live programs on San Francisco’s Public Television station KQED. In the scripts she wrote for these telecasts, she discussed the works she played and explained her teaching philosophy. In the mid-1950s, the U.S. State Department sponsored her on a tour of German cities. For the next two decades, Biro performed in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and was invited by Indiana University’s School of Music to give master classes. She played her last New York recital at Tully Hall in 1972, and her last public recitals in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1980.

Sari Biro continued to teach privately until August 1990, passionate about transmitting to future generations of pianists the knowledge acquired from a life-long study of music, and the wisdom derived from her years of performing.