Famous Hungarians

Hungarians have always been great at finding innovative ways to solve problems, often leading to the invention of objects that now surround us every day. 

Ignác Semmelweis (1818-1965): The physician who discovered that the principal reason behind childbed fever was insufficient hand washing, leading to him being known as the ‘saviour of mothers’.

Béla Bartók (1881-1945): One of the most significant musicians and composers of the 20th century, whose music is invigorated by the themes, modes and rhythmic patterns of Hungarian and other folk music traditions.

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967): Composer and ethnomusicologist, the creator of a special music-teaching technique known as the Kodály method.

Albert Szent-Györgyi (1893-1986): The discoverer of Vitamin C and a Nobel Prize winner for Physiology or Medicine for his description of the oxidation of nutrients by the cell.

László Bíró (1899-1985): Inventor of the ballpoint pen, which is still widely referred to as a biro in many English-speaking countries.

Paul Erdős (1913-1996): Mathematician, best known for his work in number theory, combinatorics and probability theory.

Ferenc Puskás (1927-2006): Legendary football icon who played in Hungary and then Spain for Real Madrid, winning a combined total of ten league championships. The FIFA Puskás Award for ‘the most beautiful goal’ of the past year was named after him.

Imre Kertész (1929-2016): Globally acclaimed pianist, conductor and composer, co-founder of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and musical director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic.

István Szabó (1938-): Film and opera director, screen writer, the first ever Hungarian to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film with Mephisto (1981).

Ernő Rubik (1944-): The inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, an influential designer and founder of many initiatives concerning science in education with a main focus on problem solving.

Iván Fischer (1951-): Conductor and composer, founder of one of the world’s finest orchestras (the Budapest Festival Orchestra) and director of the Berlin Konzerthaus.

Judit Polgár (1976-): Chess grandmaster, considered the greatest female chess player of all time.

László Nemes-Jeles (1977-): Film director and screenwriter, the second Hungarian to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for his movie Son of Saul (2016).

Katinka Hosszú (1989-): Competitive swimmer, three-time Olympic champion and five-time long-course world champion.