Károly Binder

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Károly Binder in 2017. Picture by Irk Réka

Károly Binder (1956) is an Hungarian composer, pianist and music teacher.

He began his classical music studies at the age of five. At first, playing the piano was a hobby for him and he harbored ambitions of being a doctor. Despite applying to medical school three times, he was rejected due to his intellectual origins (his father was a doctor, his mother was a teacher) being anathema to the official socialist system, and thus he decided to join the Jazz Department of the Béla Bartók Vocational Music School. He graduated under János Gonda's tutelage in 1979, and continued his classical music studies meanwhile. He got his diploma (summa cum laude) in 2000 at the Jazz Department of the Music Teacher Training Institute of Budapest (Liszt Ferenc University of Music) as a jazz pianist, teacher, jazz composer and teacher of jazz theory. He also received a diploma in 2003 from the Liszt Ferenc University of Music (for singing, music, solfeggio, music theory, choral conducting).

In 1981, he won the International Jazz Pianist Competition in Kalisz (Poland). He recorded his first album in 1982 with the contribution of world-famous Danish free jazz musician John Tchicai. In 1989, Károly Binder founded the Binder Music Manufactory record label. A few years later, Hungaroton Records scrapped one of his albums because they couldn’t store it, which led Binder to publish his and other artist’s records himself. Since 1993 he published more than 100 records: his own albums, and music beyond the interests of profit-driven big record labels – mainly modern, jazz and experimental music. He taught at the Erkel Ferenc Music School, the Jazz Department of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, the Jazz Department of the Music Teacher Training Insitute of Budapest (Liszt Ferenc University of Music). Since 2007 he is the department head and an associate professor of the Jazz Department of the Liszt Ferenc University of Music.


  • Gábor Simon Géza: The History of the Hungarian Jazz. Budapest, Magyar Jazzkutatási Társaság, 1999. október. 203–205.;
  • Attila Retkes: Old Song, New Dreams. Ancient Culture and Modern Civilization in Károly Binder’s new album. In: Hungarian Newspaper [Magyar Hírlap], 30th October 1998. 8.;