Austria is a small European country with a population of less than nine million. To many, Austria and its culture and people are relatively unknown and many people would struggle to name three famous Austrians.
However a lot of exceptional people call Austria their home or have made Austria famous in other countries. Just for fun we thought we’d create a short list of 50 famous Austrians, some of which are still alive today.
So next time you’re put on the spot and asked to name three famous Austrians, you’ll be sure to impress with your knowledge from our famous Austrians list below…
1. Maria Theresia – 1717-1780
Maria Theresia was princess of the house of Habsburg, archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia and roman-German empress. She led the government business instead of her husband emperor Franz I.. The couple had 16 children, including the future emperor Joseph II. and Leopold II. as well as Marie Antoinette the Queen of France.
2. Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) – 1837-1898
Elisabeth of Austria was Empress of Austria and the Queen of Hungary. She was married with Emperor Franz Joseph I.. She was also known for her health and beauty delusion. She travelled a lot to escape the strict life in the court. During a journey in Geneva in 1898 Elisabeth was stabbed to death by an anarchist.
3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – 1756-1791
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the famous composers of the Viennese classic music. In the early childhood Mozart showed his musical talent. His over 600 works enjoy worldwide popularity. In Salzburg you can visit his house of birth.
4. Franz Schubert – 1797-1828
Franz Schubert was a composer. In his short life of less than 32 years he wrote about 600 songs, 10 complete and nearly complete symphonies, liturgical music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and solo piano music.
5. Joseph Hayden – 1732-1809
Joseph Hayden was a composer, one of the prominent of the classical period.
6. Johann Strauß Jr. – 1825-1899
Johann Strauß Jr. was composer of light music, dance music and operettas. He was also known as „The Waltz King“. One of his famous work is „The Blue Danube“.
7. Wiener Sängerknaben
The Vienna Choir Boys is one of the best known boys ‘choirs in the world. It´s a choir of trebles and altos based in Vienna. The choir is a private organization with about 100 choristers between the ages of ten and fourteen.
8. Wiener Philharmoniker
The Vienna Philharmonic, founded in 1842, is one of the finest orchestra in the world.
9. Johann Nestroy – 1801-1862
Johann Nestroy was a playwright, actor and singer in the Austrian tradition of the Biedermeier period. He was a leading figure in Austrian culture and society.
10. Franz Grillparzer – 1791-1872
Franz Grillparzer was an Austrian writer who has emerged as a playwright primarily. He is also referred as an Austrian national poet.
11. Bertha von Suttner – 1843-1914
Bertha von Suttner was an Austrian pacifist, novelist and was established in 1905 as the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
12. Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach – 1830-1916
Marie von Eschenbach was an Austrian writer. With her psychological narratives she´s one of the most important German speaking storytellers of the 19th century.
13. Gustav Klimt – 1862-1918
Gustav Klimt was a very significantly Austrian painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession. His most popularly works are the „Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer“ and „ The Kiss“.
14. Egon Schiele – 1890-1918
Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter of the Expressionism. He produced many self-portraits and his works are noted for its intensity. With Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele is one of the most important painters of the „Wiener Moderne“.
15. Albin Egger Lienz – 1868-1926
Albin Egger Lienz was one of the famous painter from East Tyrol. His special preference was for rustic genre and historical paintings. Some of his works are located at Schloß Bruck in Lienz.
16. Friedensreich Hundertwasser – 1928-2000
Friedensreich Hundertwasser was one of the best known Austrian artists – painter, architect and environmentalist – by the end of the 20th century. The common themes in his works are organic forms, rejecting straight lines, bright colours and individualism. The Hundertwasserhaus apartment block in Vienna is a popular tourist attraction in Vienna.
17. Udo Jürgens – 1934-2014
Udo Jürgens is an Austrian composer and singer of popular music over fifty years. Even in his 70s he fills the largest concert venues in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. He represented Austria 3 times at the Eurovision Song Contest – 1966 he won the competition with the song „Merci Cherie“.
18. Falco – 1957-1998
Falco, his real name was Johann Hölzel, was one of the famous Austrian pop and rock musicians and rapper. He had several international hits like „Rock me Amadeus“ and „Jeanny“. He is the bestselling Austrian singer of all time with 20 million albums and 15 million singles.
19. Rainhard Fendrich – 1955*
Rainhard Fendrich is one of the most successful Austrian musicians, composer and entertainer. He is a representative of Austropop and coined the genre decisively. His songs are written in Viennese German. He is popular in Austria and in other German speaking countries.
20. Curd Jürgens – 1915-1982
Curd Jürgens was a German-Austrian stage and film actor who also played in international films – James Bond The spy who loved me, The enemy below, TV series „Fall of eagles“ and „Smiley´s people“. He made over 100 films but primarily he was a stage actor.
21. Billy Wilder – 1906-2002
Billy Wilder was an Austrian born American screenwriter, producer, filmmaker, journalist and artist. He directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances like Audrey Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau or Shirley Maclaine. He himself won six times the Oscar and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
22. Michael Haneke – 1942*
Michael Haneke is an Austrian screenwriter and film director. His best known films such as The piano teacher, Cache, The white ribbon and Amour have been awarded with the Oscar, 2 Golden Palms at the film festival of Cannes, 2 Golden Globes and several European awards. After the death from Michael’s mother, his stepfather had married the mother of actor Christoph Waltz.
23. Christoph Waltz – 1956*
Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. Internationally he is best known for his roles in Quentin Tarantino´s films Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained. For these performances he won the Oscar and Golden Globe.
24. Hans Moser – 1880-1964
Hans Moser was a famous Austrian actor who mainly played in comedy films. He appeared in over 150 films but also played on the stage. Moser was also a popular singer of Viennese songs.
25. Peter Alexander – 1926-2011
Peter Alexander was one of the best known Austrian singers, actor and entertainer. From the 1950s to the mid of the 1990s he was one of the most popular entertainer in the German speaking countries.
26. Arnold Schwarzenegger – 1947*
Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Austrian bodybuilder who migrated in 1968 to America. There he became an actor, film producer, writer, businessman and politician. Mainly he played in action films, but he also can be seen in some comedies. His famous roles are Conan the Barbarian, Terminator 1-3, Red Sonja, The running man, Twins, Total Recall, Kindergarden Cop, True Lies. Schwarzenegger was the 38th Gouverneur of California from 2003 until 2011. Perhaps one of the most famous Austrians alive today.
27. Romy Schneider – 1938-1982
Romy Schneider was an Austrian born film actress. She started her carrier with German home movies when she was 15. She played the young Queen Victoria and the empress Elisabeth of Austria. She moved to France and decided to live and work there.
28. Maximilian Schell – 1930-2014
Maximilian Schell was a film and stage actor. He also wrote, directed and produced some of his own films. 1961 he won the Oscar for Best Actor.
29. Klaus Maria Brandauer – 1943*
Klaus Maria Brandauer is an Austrian actor and film director. He is one of the few Austrian actors who also has success in Hollywood. He got more American awards than any other German speaking film actors. 1983 he played Maximilian Largo in James Bond “Never say never again”.
30. Karlheinz Böhm – 1928-2014
Karlheinz Böhm was an Austrian actor. He took part in 45 films and became well known for his role as Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria with Romy Schneider as Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
1981 he founded the trust “Humans for Humans” which helps people in need in Ethiopia.
31. Sigmund Freud – 1856-1939
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist, psychoanalyst, cultural theorist and critic of religion. He became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis. Freud was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. His theories and methods are discussed until today.
32. Konrad Lorenz – 1903-1989
Konrad Lorenz was an Austrian zoologist, ethologist and ornithologist. 1973 he shared the Nobel Price in Physiology or Medicine with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch. Lorenz was one of the founders of modern ethology.
33. Josef Ressel – 1793-1857
Josef Ressel was an Austrian-Bohemian forest officer and inventor. He was one of the inventors of the ship propeller.
34. Ferdinand Porsche – 1875-1951
Ferdinand Porsche was an automotive engineer and founder of the Porsche car company.
35. Ernst Mach – 1838-1916
Ernst Mach was an Austrian physicist and philosopher. Today he is best known for the Mach number, which describes the speed in proportion to the speed of sound.
36. Lise Meitner – 1878-1968
Lise Meitner was an Austrian physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. She was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission. Her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Price for this achievement. Meitner is often mentioned as one of the most glaring examples of women’s scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee. The element 109, Meitnerium, is named in her honour.
37. Jochen Rindt – 1942-1970
Jochen Rindt was a racing driver, Formula 1 driver and multiple Grand Prix winner. He is the only driver to posthumously win the Formula 1 World Driver´s Championship 1970 after being killed in practice for the Italian Grand Prix.
38. Niki Lauda – 1949*
Niki Lauda is an Austrian former racing driver. Businessman and pilot. He started in 1971-1985 in Formula 1 and was 3 times world champion. Lauda was injured in a crash at the German Grand Prix 1976. 1979 he founded the airline Lauda Air, now known as flyniki part of Air Berlin.
39. Toni Sailer – 1935-2009
Toni Sailer was an Austrian alpine ski racer. With his 3 gold medals at the 1956 Winter Olympic Games and his 7 world titles, he is one of the most successful ski racers.
40. Annemarie Moser-Pröll – 1953*
Annemarie Moser-Pröll is a former World Cup alpine ski racer. She was the most successful female alpine ski racer during the 1970s – 6 World Cup titles, 5 World Championship titles and one Olympic gold medal. She has 62 individual World Cup victories, more than any other female athlete.
41. Franz Klammer – 1953*
Franz Klammer is a former champion alpine ski racer. 1976 he became Olympic champion in the discipline downhill. With his 25 downhill victories and five time winning the downhill World Cup, he is the most successful racer of this discipline in the World Cup history.
42. Hermann Maier – 1972*
Hermann Maier, known as the Herminator, is a former World Cup champion alpine ski racer. Maier ranks among the finest alpine ski racers in history – 4 overall World Cup titles, 2 Olympic gold medals, 3 World Cup Champion titles. His 54 World Cup race victories rank second on the men´s all-time list behind Ingemar Stenmark.
43. Thomas Muster – 1967*
Thomas Muster is a former World No. 1 tennis player. In the 1990´s he was one of the world´s leading clay court players. Muster won the French Open 1995.
44. Ernst Happel – 1925-1992
Ernst Happel was an Austrian football player and coach. He is regarded as one of the most successful managers ever.
45. Hans Krankl – 1953*
Hans Krankl is a former Austrian football player and pop singer. After his active career as a player, he was a football coach.
46. Herbert Prohaska – 1955*
Herbert Prohaska is a former Austrian and international football player. After his active career he was football coach. Currently he is working as a football pundit for TV. His nickname is “Schneckerl” – Viennese dialect for curly hair Prohaska has in his younger years.
47. Felix Baumgartner – 1969*
Felix Baumgartner is an Austrian extreme athlete and former BASE jumper. He gained world fame with the project Red Bull Stratos, in which he jumped to earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere on 14.10.2012.
48. André Heller – 1947*
André Heller is an Austrian artist, poet, singer, author, songwriter, actor and cultural manager.
49. Franz Viehböck – 1960*
Franz Viehböck was Austria´s first astronaut who visited the MIR space station in 1991.
50. Conchita Wurst – 1988*
Thomas Neuwirth is an Austrian singer and drag queen. In 2011 he began appearing as Conchita Wurst – a drag persona and fictional character with a full beard. Especially the beard differs Conchita Wurst from the other travesty figures. For Thomas Neuwirth the beard acts as a provocation. Their creation explains Neuwirth response and statement against discrimination on grounds of homosexuality. He came to international attention when winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.
* Denotes famous Austrians still alive today.
If you think we’ve missed any, feel free to add your famous Austrian suggestion in the comments section below.