Famous Hungarian Composers

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 1 
Franz Liszt
(Composer, Pianist and Teacher of the Romantic Era)
Franz Liszt
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Birthdate: October 22, 1811
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Raiding, Austria
Died: July 31, 1886

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, conductor, arranger, music teacher, and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era. Considered one of the greatest pianists ever, Liszt's works influenced his contemporaries and successors alike. Perhaps his greatest legacy is his work as a teacher, although his rich body of work might suggest otherwise; he taught people like Karl Klindworth among other pianists.

 2 
Gyorgy Ligeti
(Composer)
Gyorgy Ligeti
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Birthdate: May 28, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Târnăveni, Romania
Died: June 11, 2006

Being a descendant of violinist Leopold Auer, Hungarian-Austrian composer Gyorgy Ligeti was no stranger to music in childhood. He lost his entire family, except his mother, to the Holocaust, but that didn’t prevent him from studying music later. He rose to be a legend of avant-garde music.

 3 
Bela Bartok
(One of the Most Important Composers of the 20th Century)
Bela Bartok
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Birthdate: March 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sânnicolau Mare, Romania
Died: September 26, 1945

Bela Bartok was a Hungarian pianist, composer, and ethnomusicologist. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent composers, Bartok is also counted among Hungary's greatest composers of all time. He is credited with co-founding comparative musicology, which came to be known as ethnomusicology.

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Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
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Birthdate: July 13, 1608
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Graz
Died: April 2, 1657

Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III is largely held responsible for ending the Thirty Years’ War in 1648 with 2 peace treaties known as the Peace of Westphalia. He also conspired against Generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein when he was denied control of the imperial army. He was also instrumental in the Peace of Prague.

 5 
Zoltan Kodaly
(Creator of the ‘Kodaly Method’ of Music Education.)
Zoltan Kodaly
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Birthdate: December 16, 1882
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kecskemét, Hungary
Died: March 6, 1967

Hungarian composer and folk music legend Zoltan Kodaly pioneered what is known as the Kodály method of music education. His style reflected a fusion of Hungarian, Italian, and French tunes. His music originated from years of research on folk music in Hungarian villages, leading to his thesis on the same.

 6 
Miklós Rózsa
(Composer)
Miklós Rózsa
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Birthdate: April 18, 1907
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: July 27, 1995

Born in Hungary, Miklós Rózsa was a music prodigy and learned to play the violin at age 5. After studying music in Germany, he pursued his music career in France, the UK, and the US. He is remembered for his Academy Award-winning scores in movies such as Ben-Hur and Spellbound.

 7 
Franz Lehár
(Composer)
Franz Lehár
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Birthdate: April 30, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Komárom, Hungary
Died: October 24, 1948

Hungarian composer Franz Lehár is best remembered for his operettas and became a worldwide sensation with The Merry Widow, which was later filmed, too. His distinctive style of Viennese operetta consisted of satire and Parisian dances. Though he had a Jewish-turned-Catholic wife, Hitler loved his music.

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 8 
Joseph Joachim
(Violinist Known for His Interpretations of Works of Bach, Mozart & Beethoven)
Joseph Joachim
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Birthdate: June 28, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kittsee, Austria
Died: August 15, 1907

Hungarian violinist and composer Joseph Joachim was trained in Budapest and London before he became the director of the Hochschule für Ausübende Tonkunst in Berlin. He formed the Joachim Quartet and gained fame as a music teacher. He is best known for his versions of works by legends such as Beethoven.

 9 
Peter Bence
(Pianist)
Peter Bence
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Birthdate: September 5, 1991
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hungary

While he began playing the piano at age 2 and created his first composition by age 7, Hungarian pianist Peter Bence later soared to fame with his rendition of Despacito. The Berklee College of Music scholar also holds the Guinness record of the world’s fastest piano player and has performed in 40 countries.

 10 
Julius Fučík
(Composer)
Julius Fučík
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Birthdate: July 18, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Town, Prague, Czech Republic
Died: September 25, 1916

Legendary Czech composer Julius Fučík, also known as the Bohemian Sousa, initially played the bassoon for the Austro-Hungarian Regiment and then bagged a job with the German opera theater in Prague. His best-known marches include the Florentine March and Entrance of the Gladiators. He spent his final years in Berlin.

 11 
Zoltán Kocsis
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Birthdate: May 30, 1952
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: November 6, 2016

Hungarian musical legend Zoltán Kocsis, often compared to American conductor Leonard Bernstein, had started learning the piano at age 5. While he later soared to fame with concerts and music festivals, he later won accolades for his recordings of Béla Bartók and Debussy. He also later co-established the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

 12 
Balazs Havasi
(Pianist)
Balazs Havasi
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Birthdate: September 18, 1975
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hungary

Balazs Havasi began playing the piano at age 4 and was already teaching at the Weiner Leó Conservatory by 21. The Hungarian pianist is known for his band The Unbending Trees and for his cultural project with China. He is also the first Hungarian musician to headline a concert at London’s Wembley Stadium.

 13 
Rezso Seress
(Pianist)
Rezso Seress
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Birthdate: November 3, 1899
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Budapest, Kingdom of Hungary
Died: January 11, 1968

Born Rudolf “Rudi” Spitzer, Hungarian pianist Rezso Seress was raised amid poverty and survived a Nazi labor camp, to eventually begin his career as a circus trapeze artist. An injury later forced him to switch to music. He survived a jump from his apartment but later choked himself to death at the hospital.

 14 
Leopold Auer
(Composer, Conductor, Violinist)
Leopold Auer
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Birthdate: June 7, 1845
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Veszprém, Hungary
Died: July 15, 1930

Legendary Hungarian-American violinist and composer Leopold Auer was born into a family of painters but chose to learn the violin instead. He initially played for the music-loving bling king of Hanover and later taught violin at Russia’s Saint Petersburg Conservatory. His students include Mischa Elman and Jascha Heifetz.

Emmerich Kalman
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Birthdate: October 24, 1882
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Siófok
Died: October 30, 1953

Hungarian composer Emmerich Kalman is best remembered for his operettas and was a leading figure in the development of the Viennese operetta. He initially worked as a lawyer’s assistant and a music critic for Pesti Napló to fund his music studies. One of his best-known works remains The Gay Hussars.

 16 
Sylvester Levay
(Composer who was awarded with a Grammy for his 1975 song)
Sylvester Levay
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Birthdate: May 16, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Subotica, Serbia
 17 
Franz Schmidt
(Composer)
Franz Schmidt
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Birthdate: December 22, 1874
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bratislava, Slovakia
Died: February 11, 1939

Austrian composer Franz Schmidt was first trained in the piano by his mother. He later began his music career as a cellist at the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra. Best remembered for his oratorio The Book with Seven Seals, he taught and later became the director and then the rector at the Vienna Conservatory.

 18 
Antal Doráti
(Hungarian-American Conductor and Composer Known for His Recordings of Tchaikovsky’s Music)
Antal Doráti
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Birthdate: April 9, 1906
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: November 13, 1988

Hungarian-American conductor Antal Dorati was the son of a violinist father and a pianist mother. Joining the Liszt Academy at 14, he graduated to teach at the Budapest Royal Opera. Throughout his illustrious career, he was associated with many orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

 19 
Ernst von Dohnányi
(Hungarian Composer, Pianist and Conductor)
Ernst von Dohnányi
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Birthdate: July 27, 1877
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bratislava, Slovakia
Died: February 9, 1960

The son of a math professor and an amateur cellist father, Ernő Dohnányi was taught the basics of music by his father at age 8. While he later taught in Berlin and Budapest, he was banned in Hungary for a decade by the communists. He later taught in Argentina and then the US.

 20 
David Popper
(Cellist)
David Popper
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Birthdate: June 18, 1846
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic
Died: August 7, 1913

Bohemian cellist David Popper is best known for his Hungarian Rhapsody. One of the last cellists to perform without an endpin, he started his cello career at 18, and at 25, he was the Vienna Imperial Opera and Philharmonic’s youngest-ever principal. His High School of Cello Playing is a must for cello students.

 21 
Karl Goldmark
(Composer)
Karl Goldmark
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Birthdate: May 18, 1830
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Keszthely, Hungary
Died: January 2, 1915

Born to a Jewish cantor in Hungary, Karl Goldmark began his music lessons with the violin but later struggled to fund his music education. His best-known works include the concert overture Sakuntala and the opera The Queen of Sheba. A music critic, too, he also headed the Eintracht Choral Society.

 22 
Ferenc Erkel
(Composer)
Ferenc Erkel
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Birthdate: November 7, 1810
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gyula, Hungary
Died: June 15, 1893

Regarded as the founding father of Hungary’s grand opera, pianist and conductor Ferenc Erkel also composed Hungary’s national anthem. Born into a German-origin family of musicians, Erkel was initially trained in music by his father. He was later associated with the Academy of Music in Budapest as a director and piano teacher.

 23 
Jenö Hubay
(Violinist)
Jenö Hubay
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Birthdate: September 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pest, Budapest, Hungary
Died: March 12, 1937

Born to a professor of violin, Jenö Hubay was initially trained by his father and made his concert debut at age 11. He later taught at the Brussels Conservatory and served as the director of the Budapest Conservatory. Apart from operas and orchestral pieces, he also created concertos.

 24 
Isidor Philipp
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Birthdate: September 2, 1863
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: February 20, 1958

Born in Budapest, pianist Isidor Philipp was brought to Paris as a toddler. He excelled as a student of French composer and pianist Georges Mathias at the Paris Conservatoire before making his London debut. He later taught at the Conservatoire and also spent much of his later career in New York.

 25 
Leó Weiner
(Educator)
Leó Weiner
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Birthdate: April 16, 1885
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 13, 1960

Initially trained in the piano by his brother, Leó Weiner later studied music at Budapest’s Academy of Music. He grew up to teach music theory and chamber music. His best-known works include his composition for Mihály Vörösmarty’s Csongor és Tünde. He also penned works such as Analytical Harmony.

 26 
Sandor Vegh
(Musician)
Sandor Vegh
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Birthdate: May 17, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Died: January 7, 1997

One of the greatest chamber music violinists of all time, Hungarian musician Sandor Vegh was born to folk-music-loving parents and began playing the violin at age 6. He later became a French citizen. After performing with the Hungarian String Quartet, he launched the Végh String Quartet. He also had his own orchestra.

 27 
Géza Anda
(One of the Most Admired Pianists of His Day Known for His Classical and Romantic-Era Interpretations)
Géza Anda
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Birthdate: November 19, 1921
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: June 14, 1976

Best remembered for his interpretations of Mozart, Hungarian pianist and conductor Geza Anda was associated with the Berlin Philharmonic but later moved to Switzerland and became a Swiss citizen. His music was known for its signature sentimental appeal and also consisted of Anda’s own cadenzas.

 28 
Gjon Delhusa
(Singer, Composer and Lyricist)
Gjon Delhusa
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Birthdate: August 9, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
 29 
Bálint Bakfark
(Musician)
Bálint Bakfark
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Birthdate: 1507 AD
Birthplace: Brașov, Romania
Died: August 15, 1576

The first Hungarian musician to gain fame all over Europe, Bálint Bakfark was initially patronized by János Zápolya, or King John I. He also served the royal courts of France and Poland and was best known for his iconic lute pieces. After catching the plague in 1576, he burned all his unpublished works.

 30 
Rafael Joseffy
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Birthdate: July 3, 1852
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hunfalu, Hungary
Died: June 25, 1915

Hungarian pianist Rafael Joseffy started playing at age 8 and later even trained with legendary pianist Franz Liszt in Germany. He later taught at New York’s National Conservatory and gained fame for his 15-volume edition of Chopin’s works edited by him. He also introduced Johannes Brahms’s music to the US.

 31 
Albert Siklós
(Composer)
Albert Siklós
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Birthdate: June 26, 1878
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: April 3, 1942

Hungarian cellist and composer Albert Siklós was a prodigy who had begun composing at age 6. He was later associated with the Fodor Conservatory and the Academy of Music. He mostly composed orchestra, chamber, and piano music, and was inspired by Brahms, Strauss, and Debussy.