Born: February 17, 1968 Primary Instrument: Violin
On her concerts she plays classical pieces on the violin, jazz standards, world famous movie soundtracks and evergreens.
She was born in Budapest, Hungary, and comes from a classical music family. Her first teacher was her father Ferenc Illényi (1935-2007), who played in the Hungarian State Opera House. He decided to bring up all his children to become musicians. Her mother was a special education teacher but played the piano very well. The four Illényi siblings Katica, Ferenc, Anikó and Csaba started to play on instruments at the age of three.
My dad played in the Opera Orchestra.. He used to take us to the Opera when we were young. We loved sitting in his place in the orchestra pit in the intervals. If there were free seats, we used to watch the performance from the front row. From there we could see the orchestra as well.
At the age of 14 she was admitted to Franz Liszt Academy of Music to the class of Special talents at the age of 14. During college years she wanted to sing and tapdance as well. She studied classical singing for years and applied to the National Entertaining Centre, where another style of music could be heard from each classroom: jazz, evergreens, musicals. During these years she started to learn tapdancing and acquired jazz dance and classical ballet. In 1991 she obtained her masters degree in violin at Franz Liszt Academy of Music.
At the very beginning of her carrier extraordinarily from a violinist she played many operettas and musical roles, but remained faithful to the violin. Besides classical music she trained herself in various genres like jazz, swing, world music... She discovers the uniqueness in the genres that she didn't get to know through classical music.
1995-2001, she played in Budapest Klezmer Band as a singer-violinist. They travelled around Europe, America and Israel and released five albums together.
She started her solo career in 2002.
Since than she has played every year success concerts always with new repertoire in the style of classical and jazz music.
In her performances she plays the violin, sings and dances.
She gave her first own show in 2003. In the same year, her debut album Premier has been released for which she received the biggest award (eMeRTon award) from the Hungarian Radio.
In 2004 she was on stage with a new repertoire in which she mainly played old favourites of Stéphane Grappelli. On that evening she played together with her brother, Csaba. Her second solo album originates from that evening's concert recording with the title: Honeysuckle Rose.
Through the years and even these days I'm amazed by the unique Stéphane Grappelli's jazz violin improvisations.
In 2005 and 2006 she held her next concerts with new repertoire at the Palace of Arts (National Concert Hall/Budapest) where she played the most beautiful movie soundtracks, jazz standards, world famous songs, classical evergreens and many Grappelli adaptations. That evening's special feature was J.S. Bach: Concerto For Two Violins in D Minor played together with her brother Csaba.
This event was released on her third CD and her first concert DVD:
Concert at the Palace of Arts
Meanwhile she was invited from classical music circles where she played Béla Bartók, Franz Lehár, Sarasate, Debussy, Saint Seans, Fritz Kreisler, De Falla, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Franz Liszt, Max Bruch, Georg Boulanger, Bach, Vivaldi, Spohr, etc.
In 2007 she held many successful concerts at Franz Liszt Academy / Budapest where she played classical pieces, world-famous soundtracks and jazz standards.
Besides Italian tunes, French sanzons and the most famous pieces of Michel Legrand, Ennio Morricone, John Williams and George Gershwin could be heard. That year her second concert DVD was released with the title:
Spring Concert at Franz Liszt Academy of Music
In 2008 she gave another successful concert to the memory of Stéphane Grappelli's 100th birth anniversary. On that evening she played Grappelli's most famous repertoire. The special guest that evening was her sister Anikó Illényi, who is the principal cellist of Winterthur Symphony Orchestra (Schwitzerland).
Soon she made a new album inspired by Stéphane Grappelli entitled: The Jazzy Violin
In 2009 she started her own original theatre series Love Stories, which consists of famous movie soundtracks of the 1940s. The subject of the show is certainly love. Her third DVD was recorded and released with the title: Love Stories / Szerelmesék /
On December 4, 2010 her concert at the Palace of Arts in Budapest was taped.
The special guests of her concert were her 3 siblings. Her elder brother who is the first violinist at Houston Symphonic Orchestra, her younger brother who is a graduated violinist from Vienna Academy of Music, and her sister who is first cellist of Winterthur Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland. The concert was accompanied by the famous Hungarian Dohnanyi Symphony Orchestra with the conductor of the Hungarian National Theatre, Istvan Sillo.
I like and respect classical music because it makes me calm, and light music entertains me. I am in balance both in the field of music and in private life. Without being aware of it, I endeavour to be in harmony both mentally and spiritually, for this I am happy. Katica Illényi
Cultural Ambassador of Hungarian Red Cross
Katica Illényi became the Charity and Cultural Ambassador of Hungarian Red Cross. The signing proceeded on the World Day Festivity of Hungarian Red Cross on May 8, 2009. In the first decade of the 21st century many wars, terror attacks, assassinations, natural disasters affected so many human lives around the world. For the relief of these disasters which caused physical and psychological effects, Red Cross decided to leaugue in an altruistic support with Katica Illényi. The genuine and professionally well-recognized artist offered her popularity and knowledge for the 128-year-old Red Cross that operates in 186 countries around the world. With this cooperation, both of us would like to attract the attention for the aim of Red Cross with the help of culture and art. The best person for this job is a prestigious artist who is able to deliver our principles and ambitions to social classes György Habsburg, Chairman of Hungarian Red Cross.
In the time of disasters the aim of art cannot be anything else but harmony - both in soul and mind. This was always in the centre of my life. When harmony breaks, it is our role to help people who are committed to lend a hand to the needy people. In Hungary, abroad, in peace and war - Katica Illényi's faith.