The Hungarian guitarist, József Eötvös, was a student of Professor Roland Zimmer at the "Franz Liszt" conservatory of Music in Weimar, where he also studied composition under Franz Just. Between 1985 and 1988 he became known for winning several international competitions.
József Eötvös is one of the finest guitarists alive today. He regularly gives concerts in several countries of the world: he has played, among others, in Austria , the Czech Republic, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Romania, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia, Lichtenstein, Japan and Singapore. He is invited to perform both solo concerts and orchestral concertos. He has made radio and television recordings both in his home land and abroad. When one hears Jozsef Eotvos perform, one is immediately taken not just by his flawless technique, but by his sensitive interpretations. Every nuance, every detail is given the attention it deserves. The voice leading is natural and his phrasing is expressive, dynamic and alive.
His arrangements are musical curiosities which are played on this instrument only by him in the whole wide world. His debut work was no less than an adaptation of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) for one guitar. It won him critical acclaim and praise from all corners of the world. This task was considered impossible up until that point. This arrangement is regarded by critics as the arrangement of the century. Eotvos would not rest on those accolades though, he has just recently completed Bach's Art of the Fugue (BWV 1080) for two specially tuned eight string guitars. These two works, along with Bach's lute works (Chanterelle), two volumes of Chopin's piano works Professional Music Press - Poland and Gendai Guitar - Japan ) and Johannes Brahms' 21 Hungarian Dances (MelBay), have helped to expand the repertoire of the classical guitar, while his transcriptions of Bach's lute works are among the best available. His own compositions, which are written on the guitar and other instruments as well, are also published, such as the Willow Variations (Editions Orphée, Columbus Ohio 1991), the Five Aphorisms (Trekel Verlag, Hamburg 1997) and the Featherlets (Trekel Verlag, Hamburg 2000). In his concerts, besides his own masterpieces and arrangements, the popularization of 20th century and contemporary Hungarian music plays an important role. (Among others: the works of Barna Kováts, Ferenc Farkas, Máté Hollós and Iván Madarász.).
In his master courses, which sometimes concentrate on Baroque and chamber music, József Eötvös carries out excellent music pedagogical activities. He has often been a jurist at international guitar competitions, and he is the artistic director of the International Guitar Festival of Esztergom, Hungary and of the Balatonfured International Guitar Festival. He has been teaching at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest since 1992 and on his initiative, guitar departments were established there as well as at the Konservatorium and College in Pécs. Thanks to him, an old dream of Hungarian guitarists came true when he established guitar classes at university level in 1996. His college course book titled "Thoughts On J. S. Bach's Music And The Performance Of His Lute Works" was published by the University of Pécs in 2006.
In 1997 József Eötvös recorded in his own transcription the first ever recording of the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) in the original key, previously considered a most daunting cross-over from Bach's keyboard works. Not much earlier the piece had been recorded on two to four guitars in D major by Kurt Rodarmer. This was followed by his second CD with Chopin‘s works in 1999. Since then, he has recorded the Art of the Fugue (BWV 1080) for two eight-string guitars, in addition to transcribing many lute-works of Bach.
In 2002 he was given the Artisjus Prize for the introduction and popularization of contemporary Hungarian musical pieces and he was awarded with the Franz Liszt Prize in 2004 in recognition of his work.