At the age of twelve he was admitted to the Music Academy in Budapest where he was a pupil of Nándor Zsolt and Jenő Hubay, and studied chamber music woth Leó Weiner and Imre Waldbauer. He also studied composition for a year with Zoltán Kodály. In 1929 he won the Reményi Prize, and in 1931 he graduated from the Music Academy, the same year he was awarded the Hubay Prize.
He founded his first string quartet, the New Hungarian String Quartet, in 1935.
In 1936 several European cities, including Budapest and Vienna, and the festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Barcelona, had the privilege of hearing Végh’s quartet premiere Bartók’s String Quartet No. 5.
Before the premieres the composer himself spent time with the new chamber ensemble, and during the rehearsals a very good working relationship developed between Végh and Bartók, which was to last.
He founded his second string quartet in 1940. In 1946 the Végh Quartet took part in the Geneva International Music Competition, where the jury unanimously awarded them the first prize, and this was the beginning of the group’s world career spanning three decades. In the years following the competition Sándor Végh lived in France, later Switzerland and Germany, then in the final decades of his life made his home in Salzburg in Austria.
Végh played with the finest musicians of the century. He performed as a chamber partner to Ernő Dohnányi, Annie Fischer, Miczyslaw Horszowski, Wilhelm Kempdd, Rudolf Serkin, and Yehudi Menuhin. For many years he played with Pablo Casals at the legendary cellist’s Prades Festival. In 1964 Végh founded his own chamber music festival in Cervo, Italy, which is still held to this day, and in which over the last 55 years many world-famous musicians have performed.
Throughout his life Végh attracted particular importance to passing on his knowledge to the upcoming generations. From 1941 to 1946 he led violin classes at the Budapest Music Academy, then later at the conservatoires in Basel, Freiburg, Düsseldorf and Salzburg, and gave many masterclasses all over the world. In 1972 in Prussia Cove, in Cornwall (south coast of England) he created the International Musicians Seminar, a master class which to this day faithfully retains Végh’s musical legacy.
Twenty years after founding the Végh Quartet, and now a musician of great fame, he created (probably in 1961) the Sándor Végh Chamber Orchestra, made up of his ex-pupils. In autumn 1961 the orchestra toured in Switzerland and Germany, performing in 1962 and 1963 in the Prades Festival, and in 1964 in Cervo.
However, due to financial difficulties, the orchestra was soon forced to discontinue its activity.
The determining factor in Végh’s becoming a conductor was his experience at the Marlboro Music Festival in the USA, where outstanding young musicians at the beginning of their careers played chamber music with famous musicians, and the partecipants also formed an occasional orchestra. Végh took part in the Marlboro Festival four times, from 1974 to 1977, and every year he led the orchestra, which in those years included musicians who later became world famous, such as Kim Kashkashian, Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky, and Shlomo Mintz.
In the last two decades of his life Sándor Végh placed increasing emphasis on conducting. At the beginning of this period he was still performing as a violinist, until because of age-related joint problems he had to lay down the bow. Végh conducted the Camerata Academica chamber orchestra from 1978 until his death in 1997, though from time to time he also conducted other orchestras, including the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Berlin and Vienna Philarmonics, and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
In recognition of his art Végh was awarded many decorations and prizes, including the CBE (honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1989), a Frech arts knighthood (Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des lettres, 1989), and first class in the Austrian order of Merit for Sciences and Arts (Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz fürWissenschaft und Kunst I. klasse, 1992). In Hungary he received the order of the Star of the People’s Republic of Hungary decorated with the Golden Wreath (1987), the Pro Cultura Hungarica Prize (1995) and was made an honorary citizen of Budapest (1995). The Franz Liszt Music Academy made him an honorary teacher (1992) and the Végh Quartet was awarded the Béla Bartók-Ditta Pásztory prize (1989).