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.
Born to Holocaust survivors, Hungarian-born pianist Andras Schiff began learning the piano at age 5. He is now best known for his interpretations of legends such as of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. His numerous awards include a Grammy. He was also knighted for his achievements.
Georg Solti was an operatic and orchestral conductor. He is best remembered for his association with opera companies in London, Frankfurt, and Munich. He also worked with the popular Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he served as a music director for a long time. Solti became the subject of a 1987 biographical TV documentary titled This Is Your Life.
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.
Hungarian-French virtuoso pianist Gyorgy Cziffra was born into a poor family of gypsy musicians and lost his father and sister to starvation. His piano skills got him a job at a circuses and nightclubs. He eventually trained at the Franz Liszt Academy. Following his son’s death in a fire, he stopped performing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Though born in Hungary, pianist Stephen Heller made his career in France. Apart from being a teacher and a composer, he also wrote quite a lot of piano music. Initially patronized by the Fugger family of Augsburg, in his later life, he survived on a charitable subscription arranged by Robert Browning and others.
Born to an affluent Hungarian businessman and piano teacher, Agi Jambor was a piano prodigy. Married to physicist and pianist Imre Patai, she later joined the Resistance against the Nazis, decked up as a sex worker under the alias Maryushka. After moving to the US, she taught at the Bryn Mawr College.
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.
Hungarian pianist Annie Fischer was a prodigy who made her concert debut at age 10. The Franz Liszt Academy alumnus was forced to flee to Sweden due to the anti-Semitism crisis in Hungary, which was then under Nazi control. Her post-war career saw her teaching at Budapest’s Academy of Music.
Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Sandor initially gained fame as a concert pianist and later became an American citizen, even serving the US Army Signal Corps. Apart from being a student of composer Béla Bartók, he was one of the few in his inner circle. He also at Juilliard and the University of Michigan.
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.
Hungarian pianist György Fischer was initially associated with the Vienna Opera, specializing in the works of Mozart. The Franz Liszt Academy alumnus later also performed at the Australian Opera and was the principal conductor at the Oper Koln Opera. He was married first to singer Lucia Popp and then to violinist Ida Bieler.
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.
Best known for his collaborations with Yehudi Menuhin, who was his brother-in-law, Hungarian pianist Louis Kentner also delivered some remarkable solo performances. He later moved to London and became a British citizen. His most popular works include his solo recordings of Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms.
Initially part of the Franz Liszt Music Academy, pianist Bela Siki later traveled to places such as Switzerland and the US. He was associated with Seattle’s University of Washington for 15 years, following which he joined the University of Cincinnati and then moved back to Washington. He was well-versed in multiple languages.