Dezső Ránki began taking piano lessons at the Budapest Academy of Music at the age of eight. When he was thirteen, he enrolled at the Budapest Conservatory and became a pupil of Klára Máthé. Subsequently he studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, with Pál Kadosa and Ferenc Rados.
From the time Ránki won first prize at the International Schumann Competition in Zwickau, he has had an international career performing in Europe, Scandinavia, the Soviet Union, the USA and Japan. He has played with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), the Orchestre National de France under such conductors as Sir Georg Solti, Sándor Végh,Lorin Maazel, and Zubin Mehta. He was awarded twice the Kossuth Prize, the highest cultural award in Hungary.