Famous Hungarians

Nobel Laureates


1905 Lénárd Fülöp Physics
1914 Bárány Róbert Physiology and pathology of the vestibular apparatus
1925 Zsigmondy Richárd Adolf Colloid chemistry
1937 Szent-Györgyi Albert Vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid (in Hungarian paprika)
1943 Hevesy György Isotopes as tracers
1961 Békésy György Stimulation within the cochlea
1963 Wigner Jenő Structure of the atom and its nucleus (atomic bomb and nuclear engineering)
1971 Gábor Dénes Holography
1986 Elie Wiesel Peace prize
1986 Polányi János Chemistry
1994 Oláh György Ingredients of oil and natural gas
1994 Harsányi János Equilibrium in the theory of “non-co-operative games”
2002 Kertész Imre For his novel Fateless
2004 Herskó Ferenc Chemistry

Inventors and scientists

Semmelweis Ignác (1818-1865): physician. Known as the ’saviour of mothers’, he discovered that the principal reason behind childbed fever was inappropriate hand washing.

Szilárd Leó (1898-1964): physicist who conceived the nuclear chain reaction.

Bíró László (1899-1985): inventor of the ballpoint pen. Ballpoint pens are still widely referred to as a biro in many English-speaking countries.

Neumann János (1903-1957): mathematician, the ‘Father of Computer’.

Teller Ede (1908-2003): theoretical physicist, known colloquially as ’the father of the hydrogen bomb’.

Csíkszentmihályi Mihály (1934-): psychologist. He is best known as the architect of the notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic.

Rubik Ernő (1944-): inventor of the world famous logical puzzle, the Rubik’s cube.

Domokos Gábor and Várkonyi Péter: inventors of the ‘Gömböc’, a convex three-dimensional homogeneous body which has only one stable and one unstable point of equilibrium.

Losonczi Áron (1977-): inventor of Litracon, the light-transmitting concrete.


Liszt Ferenc (1811-1886): composer and pianist. Liszt was a revolutionary figure in romantic music and was acknowledged as the greatest pianist of his time.

Bartók Béla (1881-1945): one of the most significant musicians and composers of the twentieth century. His music was invigorated by the themes, modes, and rhythmic patterns of the Hungarian and other folk music traditions he studied, which he integrated along with various influences from his contemporaries into his own distinctive style

Kodály Zoltán (1882-1967): composer and ethnomusicologist of the 20th century. As a scholar of Hungarian music, Kodály collected, arranged, and published folk songs. Also, he was the creator of a special music-teaching technique known as the Kodály-method.

Pulitzer József (1847-1911): journalist and publisher. Best known for the Pulitzer Prizes, established posthumously.

George Zukor (1899-1983): Oscar winning director (The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady)

Harry Houdini (1874-1926): the greatest magician on Earth.

André Kertész (1894-1985): photographer. He is recognised today as one of the creators of photojournalism.

Victor Vasarely (1908-1997): painter. His geometrical style of painting made him a figure recognised all over the world.

Szabó István (1938-): film director. In 1981 he won an Oscar for his motion picture Mephisto.

Koltai Lajos (1946-): cinematographer and film director. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 for his work on the film Malena.

Kocsis Zoltán (1952-): pianist, conductor and composer.

Sebestyén Márta (1957-): folk vocalist. She sang in the movie The English Patient (Szerelem, szerelem - Love, love).