As a boy, Augustin Dumay was inspired to study violin after his parents took him to a performance by the great violinist Nathan Milstein. Dumay entered the Paris Conservatory before he was ten years old and studied there for two years. He continued his musical education with private instructors.
He was engaged to perform at the 1963 Montreux Festival, when he was 14. Among the audience were the eminent violinists Henryk Szeryng and Joseph Szigeti. A week later, when Szeryng discovered he was unable to go on a planned South American tour, he recommended young Dumay as his substitute. On his return, he was accepted as a student of his early hero, Milstein.
Milstein predicted that Dumay would become one of the world's great violinists by the end of the century. After completing studies with Milstein, Dumay spent five more years studying in Brussels with Arthur Grumiaux.
Dumay entered his professional career in the early 1970s; he received a major boost in 1979, when maestro Herbert von Karajan specially selected him to appear in a special concert in Paris. This was immediately followed with offers to perform with the major European orchestras, beginning with the Berlin Philharmonic. Since then he has played frequently with the Berlin, and with other major orchestras including the Japan Philharmonic, Orchestre National du France, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the English Chamber Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, and many others.
Dumay's recital partner is well-known Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires, and they are often joined by cellist Jian Wang to form a trio. He recorded for the EMI label and now is an exclusive artist for Deutsche Grammophon. His recordings have won the Gramophone Award and the Grand Prix du Disque. He also frequently appears at the major festivals of Europe and at Lincoln Center and Ravinia.
On his recordings of the five Mozart violin concertos he acts as both soloist and conductor, a practice that was standard for the time of the compositions. He has recorded an imaginative program of solo violin music of J.S. Bach, Eugéne Ysaÿe, and Miklos Rozsa.