Mihály Virizlay (1931-2008) was a Hungarian-born cellist who had a successful international career as a concerto and recital soloist, was principal cello of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for 40 years, and taught at the Peabody Institute. Born in Budapest, Virizlay began playing the violin at age four but switched to cello when he entered the Franz Liszt Academy at the age of seven. At the academy he studied with Janos Starker, a lifelong friend and colleague, and Zoltán Kodály, one of his greatest musical influences. Virizlay established himself as a soloist in Europe upon completing his studies. During the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he fled to the United States, where he lived in a refugee camp for a time before a recommendation from Starker allowed him to gain residency. He soon earned a post with the Dallas Symphony, followed by principal posts with the Chicago and Pittsburgh Symphonies before joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1962. Virizlay joined the faculty of the Peabody Institute in 1964 and continued to teach and perform with the BSO until he suffered a stroke in 2002. He remained with the orchestra as principal cello emeritus before retiring in 2004.
Virizlay was also a composer who premiered his Cello Concerto with the BSO and frequently performed his Suite for Solo Cello in recitals. Renowned for his rich tone and expressivity, Virizlay performed dozens of times as a soloist with the BSO and other major orchestras around the world.