István Kassai graduated as a pianist from the Budapest Academy of Music in 1982 studying in the class of Pál Kadosa. In 1984 he pursued a second diploma at the Conservatoire Européen de Musique under the close supervision of 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 has been acknowledged by such prestigious awards as the ARTISJUS Prize in 1976, the Chevillion-Bonnaud 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 member of the Hungarian Academy of Art since 2013.
Kassai has made recordings for Marco Polo, Hungaroton and Naxos, including the complete piano works of Bloch, Erkel, Hubay, Mosonyi and Weiner, as well as works by Bartók, Dohnányi, Liszt and 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 Cziffra.