Pianist Lili Kraus was born in Budapest in 1903. At the age of 17, she entered the conservatory in Budapest where she studied with Artur Schnabel, Zoltán Kodály, Béla Bartók, and Severin Eisenberger. In the 1930s, she continued her studies with Eduard Steuermann and with Schnabel, who focused her interest in the classical tradition.
Lili Kraus soon became known as a specialist in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Her early chamber music performances and recording with violinist Szymon Goldberg helped gain the critical acclaim that launched her international career. In the 1930s, she toured Europe, Japan, Australia and South Africa. In 1942, Kraus embarked on a tour of Asia where, while in Java, she and her family were captured and interned by the Japanese until the end of World War II.
After the war, she was granted New Zealand (then also British) citizenship and resumed her career, touring extensively and eventually settling in the United States where, from 1967 to 1983, she was artist-in-residence at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. She made her home in Asheville, North Carolina, where she died in 1986.