One of the leading representatives of contemporary Hungarian opera, János Vajda was born in Miskolc in 1949 and studied under Emil Petrovics at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. He also studied in Amsterdam during the 1980s. His versatile work as a composer was recognised with the Erkel Award in 1981 and the Bartók-Pásztory Award in 1990. For his dramatically powerful, emotionally gripping and lyrically beautiful works across the entire range of musical genres – especially opera, oratorio and choral pieces – he was presented with the Kossuth Prize in 2003. Regularly involved in performing his works have been singers Andrea Meláth and Emese Virág, as well as the Dohnányi Orchestra Budafok, the Hungarian Radio Choir and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. One outstanding interpreter of his oeuvre is Géza Török, who has conducted the world premieres of many of his works, including Mario and the Magician, Leonce and Lena, Mrs Karnyó and Magnificat. He writes for the human voice, having composed eight operas, five oratorios and numerous choral works.