Before graduating as a clarinettist from the Liszt Music Academy in Budapest, Kálmán Berkes studied under the tutoriate of Béla Kovács, György Kurtág, András Mihály, Albert Simon and Frigyes Sándor. His professors in conducting were János Ferencsik and Giuseppe Patane. In 1972 he won Silver Medal at Genf International Music Competition; in 1974 an in 1975 he won prized at Belgrad and München chamber music competitions.
Between 1972 and 1993 Mr Berkes filled the position of lead clarinetist of the Hungarian State Opera, Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra and Budapest Festival Orchestra. From 1973 to 1983 he was a member of Budapest Chamber Ensemble. After founding the Budapest Wind Ensemble that worked under his guidance, he joined the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra that was conducted by him until 1992. He held master classes in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Finland. Since 1992 he teaches at Musashino Music Academy in Tokyo. Between the autumn of 2004 to December 2006 he was the permanent guest conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to his frequent tours throughout Europe, North- and South-America and Japan, Mr Berkes has had several invitations to prestigious music festivals and worked with excellent musicians such as Zoltán Kocsis, Dezső Ránki, András Schiff, Jenő Jandó, Miklós Perényi, Maurice André, James Galway, the Takács and the Keller Quartets. He has a number of CD-s, released by Naxos, Hungaroton, Decca, Telefunken, Harmonia Mundi and EMI. Together with his partners, György Pauk and Jenő Jandó, he was awarded with Grammy Gold in 1995. Since 1 April 2009 he has been the art director of Győr Philharmonic Orchestra.