Ilona Dobszay-Meskó is a conductor and a composer honoured with the Erkel Ferenc Award.
Her oeuvre of original compositions includes orchestral works, concertos, oratorio and vocal-symphonic compositions, a ballet, three fairy-tale plays, compositions for mixed choir, women’s choir, men’s choir and children’s choir, solo pieces, chamber music for instrumental and vocal ensembles, a melodramatic orchestral work, and a theatre play with music and poetry and an opera. Her grand oratorio Missa “Da Pacem” was written during the pandemic (2020-2022), thanks to a 3-year grant from the Hungarian Academy of Arts.

Her fairy-tale plays have reached tens of thousands of pre-school and school-aged children through more than 200 performances. Her works are performed regularly and with great pleasure by Hungarian symphony orchestras. She has represented Hungary with award-winning works in New York, Vancouver, and Rome; her pieces were also performed in Beijing, Japan, Germany, Israel, Sweden, and other countries.

Her interests focus on musical theatre. She is currently working on her second opera.

She is a guest conductor at the Hungarian State Opera. She conducted, among others, the Kodály Philharmonia Debrecen, the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Danubia Orchestra, the Alba Regia Symphony Orchestra, the Gödöllő Symphony Orchestra, the Szeged Symphony Orchestra, the MÁV Symphony Orchestra, the Miskolc Symphony Orchestra, the Dohnányi Orchestra Budafok, and the Kecskemét Symphony Orchestra, among others. She is founder and leader of the orchestra Ventoscala Sinfonietta since its founding in 2003.

In addition to her work as a composer and a conductor, she has two decades of teaching experience. She teaches composition at the Bartók Conservatory, where she also works as a mentor in teacher training, and as the director and conductor of the school’s symphony orchestra. Her masterclasses held in collaboration with the MÁV Symphony Orchestra were attended by young conductors from 15 countries.

In the 2000s, she worked as a piano accompanist as well, and coached several opera performances along with world-famous artists at the Musical Stage Directing Programme of the University of Theatre and Film Arts, at the Department of Vocal and Opera Studies of the Academy of Music, and at the Montpellier Radio France Festival. In some opera performances she replaced the orchestra by playing the piano. She has conducted Donizetti’s opera Rita, Rossini’s opera L’italiana in Algeri, Zsófia Tallér’s film opera Johanna, and László Vidovszky’s opera Narcissus and Echo, which she also directed. She is still active as a pianist in various chamber music formations.

Her professors in Music Composition have been: János Vajda, Miklós Kocsár, Miklós Csemiczky és Emil Petrovics.

Her professors in Orchestra Conducting have been: Tamás Gál, András Ligeti, Youri Simonov, Ádám Medveczky and László Tihanyi.

Competitions, courses, scholarships, awards:

In 2002 she won first prize at the Vántus István Music Composing Competition for young Hungarian composers. In 2003 she won first prize at the Kincses Composing Competition organised by the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, while in 2001 she gained the prize of the best performer at the same competiton. With a scholarship she took part at the master courses for music composition of József Sári in Austria as well as of Betsy Jolas in France. In 2004 she gained the opportunity from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music to travel to New York to perform her piece Ashed Lovers at the Juillard School. In 2017 she represented Hungary at the ISCM World New Music Days in Vancouver with her composition for mixed choir Choral. In 2019 she won the 3-year scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Arts for creative artists.Her work as a composer was honoured with the Erkel Ferenc Award in 2022.
Her pieces are to be heard at several contemporary music series, e.g. at the MR3 Bartók channel in the series Music of Our Age, ArTRIUM; at the Fészek Artists\’ Club in the series Youth Contemporary Music Evenings, Transparent Sound New Music Festival, at the Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival, the Budapest Spring Festival as well as the Mini Festival. In 2004 she was commissioned by the Hungarian Academy in Rome and in 2007 by the Liszt Academy to write a piece for the Trombone Contest where she was invited as a jury member, too. Her composition for children\’s choir has been the compulsory work in the final round of the Béla Bartók International Choir Competition in Debrecen. She was commissioned to write a choral piece for the 50th anniversary of the same competition and the 750th of the city: her work Vivat, crescat, floreat was performed by the Kodály Choir at the gala concert. In 2014 she was commissioned by the Liszt Academy to write the compulsory piece for the National Clarinet Contest and she was invited to be a jury member, too. In 2018 and 2019 she was commissioned to compose the compulsory piece for the National Secondary and Higher Level Guitar Competition. Her piece for the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel is often performed in all Hungary; with over 100 performances she has recently written a symphonic version of it. Her next musical fable, The Son of the White Mare has been performed more than 88 times also with symphony orchestras. Her most recent play, King Thrushbeard was premiered in October 2019.
King Thrushbeard, her third composition for children, began its journey in 2019, enchanting audiences in 21 performances to date.
In 2022, the city of Kecskemét, honoring the Day of Hungarian Culture, hosted a composer’s evening featuring her compositions for orchestra, with her as a conductor. Upon request of the Honvéd Male Choir, she composed The Magyar’s God, which is based on Sándor Petőfi’s eponymous poem. The Magyar’s God was performed with orchestra accompaniment in the Great Hall of Vigadó on the Day of Poetry in 2022. It was subsequently recorded with the Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra. In the same year, at the Opera200 celebration of the Hungarian State Opera, she conducted her own composition titled Hungarian Opera Fanfare, a festive brass ensemble piece. The fanfare was performed once more in 2023 at the inaugural ceremony of the Opera House’s Simándy Building. She is the composer of Akartok-e játszani (“Would You Like To Play?”), a theatrical adaptation of poems by Dezső Kosztolányi, which has been regularly performed since the spring of 2023.

Presidential member of the Hungarian Composers’ Union and member of the Vántus István Society. She is a board member of the Society Artisjus Hungarian Bureau for the Protection of Authors’ Rights.