The Hungarian Radio Choir was formed in 1950. Its repertoire encompasses all fields of classical choral music, including a cappella works, masterpieces from the opera and oratorio repertoires, from the Renaissance to the present day. Its concerts include works by both classical and contemporary composers, including compositions by the most famous Hungarian composers, Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók, Ernő Dohnányi, Zoltán Kodály, György Ligeti, György Kurtág, Péter Eötvös, János Vajda, and György Orbán.
Since it was founded the Choir has participated in countless radio and television recordings, and has made more than 80 discs. The 1997 CD of works by Kodály and Bartók made with Sir George Solti and the Berlin Philharmonic was nominated for a Grammy in the classical music category. The joint recording by the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Choir of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 won the 2007 Gramophone Award.
In 1985 the choir was awarded the Bartók-Pásztory Award for high artistic standards.
It is regularly invited to renowned international festivals, and has performed at the Salzburg Festspiele, the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, and the Vienna Festival. It has made guest appearances in Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Armenia, and many other countries throughout the world. It has participated in operatic productions in the Megaron Music Hall in Athens, in the Philharmonie in Berlin and on the stage of La Scala in Milan. It always participates in the Budapest Wagner Days, which have been held every year since 2006, conducted by Ádám Fischer.
As a guest of the leading figures of international music world the choir has received invitations to concerts of orchestras such as the Orchestre National de Lyon (Bertrand de Billy, David Robertson), RAI Torino (Lorin Maazel), the Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Jesus Lopez-Cobos), the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (Pinchas Steinberg, Bertrand de Billy), the Frankfurt Radio Symphony (Dimitri Kitayenko), the North German Radio Orchestra (Christoph von Eschenbach, Herbert Blomstedt, Eiji Oue), the Bochum Symphony Orchestra (Steven Sloane), the Staatskapelle Weimar (Carl St.Clair), the Danish Radio Sinfonietta (Ádám Fischer), the Belgian National Orchestra (Stanislav Kochanovsky), the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Hungarian National Philharmonic.
The choir has been conducted by many famous guest conductors, including Lovro von Matačić, Kurt Masur, Paul Sacher, Peter Schreier, Eric Ericson, Yehudi Menuhin, Lamberto Gardelli, Giuseppe Patané, Marcello Viotti, Yuri Simonov, Michael Stern, Helmuth Rilling, Jose Cura, János Ferencsik, Antal Doráti, Péter Eötvös, Tamás Vásáry and others.
The choir has been directed by: Endre Székely (1950-53), Árpád Darázs (1953-55), Zoltán Vásárhelyi (1955-59), Cecília Vajda (1959-64), Imre Csenki (1964-66), Ferenc Sapszon (1966-91), Péter Erdei (1991-92), Kálmán Strausz (1992-2008), and Csaba Somos (2009-13). Since August 2014 the principal conductor of the choir has been Zoltán Pad.