Hungarian pianist Annie Fischer made her debut at the age of 10 and studied with Ernst von Dohnányi at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. Her performance of the Liszt Sonata in B minor won Fischer first prize at the 1933 Liszt International Piano Competition, but her concert career was barely underway when war broke out; Fischer fled to Sweden. Afterwards Fischer returned to Hungary, and although she made her New York debut in 1961, she was only seldom seen in the United States and based her career in continental Europe. In her native Hungary, Fischer was particularly well vaulted and was awarded the Kossuth Prize three times. Mozart and Beethoven were Fischer's bread and butter composers, but she also excelled in later Romantic repertoire and in a few modern works, most notably the Piano Concerto No. 3 of Béla Bartók.
Although regarded as one of the world's greatest pianists late in life, Fischer only seldom recorded, and disliked doing so. Shortly after Fischer's death in 1995, the Hungaroton label issued a complete recording of Fischer in the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas. Fischer had been working on this set for the better part of two decades, but prior to that time she had not seen fit to release these recordings. Fischer was an intense and powerful pianist who responded most strongly to her own inner sense of inspiration and drive. In works where this approach was an advantage, such as the "Hammerklavier" Sonata of Beethoven, Fischer was second to none.