Gilbert Varga initially studied violin with his father, Tibor Varga. He performed as a soloist with the Hofer Symphoniker in the early 1970’s, before training as a conductor with Franco Ferrara and Sergiu Celibidache among others. His appointment as principle conductor of the Hofer Symphoniker from 1980 until 1985, developed into a long-standing relationship. Since 2008 he brings his valued experience - between 2001 and 2012 Varga conducted the final rounds of the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels - to the International Violin Competition Henri Marteau, once again as jury chair and artistic advisor.

From 1985 until 1990 principle conductor of the Philharmonia Hungarica, Varga then worked in Stuttgart and Malmö before becoming music director of the Basque National Orchestra in 1997. He served as the principle conductor of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, and of the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra in Hungary from 2019 until 2021.

As a guest conductor, Gilbert Varga has led many of the world's best orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the Orchestre de Paris, the Oslo Philharmonic, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. His discography is vast  including recordings of the concertos by Ravel and Prokofiev with the Deutschen Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Anna Vinnitskaya on Naïve Records which received five stars from the BBC Music Magazine.