A composer, violist and improviser, Szilárd Mezei was born in 1974 in Senta, Serbia (then Yugoslavia) as a member of the Hungarian minority in the multi-ethnic region of Vojvodina. He completed his violin studies in Senta and Subotica and studied composition for four years at the University of Arts (Music Academy) in Belgrade under professor Zoran Erić.
His orchestra plays contemporary improvised music, mostly performing his own compositions. As a composer, Mezei is interested in exploring the relationship between improvisation and composition (similarly to Witold Lutosławski’s aleatoric and Anthony Braxton’s creative music methods), incorporating elements of jazz and authentic folk music. As a young musician he followed the paths of Béla Bartók and György Szabados. Mezei is also actively involved in composing scenic music (with Josef Nadj, among others).
More than 30 CDs and LPs of his music have been released on international labels such as Leo Records, Not Two, Creative Sources, Red Toucan, Ayler Records and Slam Productions. He has played with musicians/improvisers such as Matthias Schubert, Tamás Geröly, Róbert Benkő, György Szabados, Tim Hodgkinson, Albert Márkos, Peter Ole Jörgensen, Jens Balder, Joe Fonda, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joelle Leandre, Hamid Drake, Herb Robertson, Frank Gratkowski and Charles Gayle. Mezei has written almost 150 compositions for various ensembles.
He is also active in theatre music and has twice won the prestigious Sterija Prize, and many more. His writings on music were published in many periodicals in the former Yugoslavia and in Hungary.