István Kassai graduated as a pianist from the Budapest Academy of Music in 1982 studying in the class of Pál Kadosa. Then in 1984 he pursued his second diploma at the Conservatoire Européen de Musique under the close supervision of the world-famous professor Yvonne Lefébure. He also undertook several master courses, including one led by György Cziffra, who had a great impact on Kassai’s artistic development.
During his career, Kassai has won several first prizes in international competitions such as the International Piano Competition for Young Artists in 1972 in Czechoslovakia, the Piano Competition organised by Hungarian Radio in 1979, and the Paris International Debussy Piano Competition in 1982. Moreover, Kassai’s artistic talent was acknowledged by such prestigious awards as the ARTISJUS-Prize in 1976, the Bonnaud-Chevillion-Prize of the Fondation de France in 1986, the Nívó Prize of Hungarian Radio in 1990, the Ferenc Liszt Prize in 2001 and the Leó Weiner Memorial Prize in 2010. He has been a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Art since 2013.
István Kassai has made recordings for Hungaroton, King Records, Lavotta Kamarazenekar, Naxos, Marco Polo and Radioton, including the complete piano works of Bloch, Erkel, Hubay, Mosonyi and Weiner, as well as works by Bartók, Dohnányi, Liszt, and Robert Volkmann.
Kassai has published numerous articles and studies on music and edited many volumes of sheet music by composers and musicians such as Liszt, Mosonyi, Hubay, Weiner and György Cziffra.