Petra Somlai was born in Hungary where she graduated in conducting and piano performance at the Béla Bartók Conservatory (Budapest) and completed her modern piano degree at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music (Budapest) in 2007.
During these years the focus of Somlai’s interest gradually turned to the authentic interpretation on period instruments. She studied fortepiano and harpsichord with David Ward (England), and later under the direction of Fabio Bonizzoni, Menno van Delft, and Bart van Oort at the Sweelinck Conservatory at Amsterdam and the Royal Conservatory at The Hague where she graduated summa cum laude in 2011.
In 2010 Somlai won first prize and the audience award at the International Fortepiano Competition in Bruges (Belgium). In the same year she received the National Junior Prima Primissima Award of Hungary as outstanding young artist. She has performed at major international early music festivals such as the Brugge Musica Antiqua Festival; Utrecht Early Music Festival; Haydn Festival Eszterháza; Beethoven Festival Bonn, Budapest Beethoven Festival; Bach Festival Dordrecht; Klara Festival Brussels; AMUZ Festival Antwerp; and Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci; and has given concerts all over Europe, the USA, and Japan. Since 2012 she has performed often as a conducting soloist with various orchestras.
Somlai worked as assistant professor of Early Keyboards on the faculty of University of North Texas in 2013–2015. Currently she is professor of fortepiano at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.