In 1976, István Párkányi, Heinz Oberdorfer and Ferdinand Erblich, together with cellist Stefan Metz, formed the Orlando String Quartet. Later that same year the young ensemble won First Prize at the Carlo Jachino International String Quartet Competition in Rome, which marked the beginning of an outstanding career. In close collaboration with one of the great masters in the profession, Sándor Vegh, the newly formed quartet developed its musical language and artistic expression.
After winning First Prize in the Helsinki European Broadcasting Union's International Competition for String Quartets in 1978, the road to the international stages lay open. After five years of performing, the New York Times ranked the Orlando Quartet among the world's best quartets. The Quartet was offered a recording contract by Philips, as a result of which they were twice awarded the 'Grand Prix du Disque'. Extensive tours brought the Quartet across the world.
In 1984 Istvan Parkanyi and the other members went separate ways, but today three founding members, together with a new cellist, Michael Müller, have come together again to revive their old passion.
István Párkányi was born in Leipzig, of Hungarian descent, and grew up in Budapest. He started playing the violin at the age of seven and later studied at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest. He received the top prize at the National Music Competition. In 1970 he continued his studies with Max Rostal in Cologne. He became concertmaster of the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn and of the Kölner Kammerorchester in Cologne. In 1975 he became first concertmaster of the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra. One year later he became a founding member of the Orlando Quartet, which he led to become a highly successful ensemble. In 1984 he chose to become first concertmaster of the Dutch Chamber Orchestra, in addition to regular performances as a soloist. He is a professor at the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatory.
Michael Müller born in Günzburg on the Donau, with a Transsylvanian father and an Austrian mother, studied the cello at the Musikhochschule in München and at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. He participated in masterclasses with Boris Pergaminshikof, David Geringas and Heinrich Schiff. He trained as a chamber musician with the Amadeus Quartet in Cologne and, like the other members of the Quartet, with Sándor Vegh in Salzburg. He has played in string quartets since 1977 and won the first prize in the national "Jugend musiziert" competition in Germany. In 1987 he became principal cellist with the Kammerphilharmonie in Frankfurt, and in 1995 with the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra, Hilversum. His appearances include frequent performances as a soloist and as a chamber musician across Europe, as well as taking part in numerous renowned international festivals. He is a professor at the Royal conservatory in The Hague and at the Brabant Conservatory in Tilburg.
Heinz Oberdorfer born in München in Bavaria, also started playing the violin at the age of seven. He went on to study at the Richard Strauss Conservatory in München and later at the Vienna Academy of Music. It was here that he laid the foundation for his later career in chamber music, when, together with Rainer Küchl, Ferdinand Erblich and Heinrich Schiff, he formed the Academy Quartet. In 1972 he started his orchestral career as second concertmaster of the Nuremberg Philharmonic Orchestra, followed by a position as first concertmaster of the Saarländische Staatsorchester Saarbrücken. In 1976, as a founding member of the Orlando Quartet, he moved to the Netherlands. Here, he served as a leader in the Residentie Orkest and as concertmaster of the Dutch radio orchestras. Since 1985 he has been a professor at Arnhem Conservatory.
Ferdinand Erblich originating from Vienna, grew up surrounded by the rich musical tradition of this city. He began his studies as a violinist with Josef Sivo at the Academy of Music here. Later he decided to change to the viola and became a student of Hatto Beyerle, among others. One of his most important teachers was Peter Schidloff, violist of the renowned Amadeus Quartet. In 1971, Erblich became principal violist with the München Radio Orchestra and later with the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne. It was here that he met István Párkányi, a meeting that was eventually to result in the formation of the Orlando Quartet. He is a professor at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague as well as at the Brabant Conservatory in Tilburg. In addition he is in high demand as a violist in various chamber music ensembles.