Győr and Jewry

Iván Szenes, the king of hits

But how is he related to Győr?

Featured image: Anton H, Pexels

In August, the tragic story of Hanna Szenes was performed on an open-air stage in the courtyard of the Lajos Vajda Museum in Szentendre, created by Ágnes Réka Tóth and Kristóf Widder using the young poet’s verses, diary and memories, with music by Sándor Födő. The role of Hanna was played in a very convincing way by Eszter Bíró, who resembles her so much. (1)

Hanna and Eszter (2)

It was a real experience, despite the fact that the performance took place not on stage planks, which usually set the rhythm, but on the bare ground of the museum courtyard, which absorbed every step, almost without any echo or any noise. Can this be interpreted as meaning that Hanna’s fate and memory will one day be forgotten in such an echoless way?

We hope not. Eszter Bíró and her companions may also have undertaken to stage Hanna for this purpose. We also know that Hanna, who was brutally and senselessly murdered by the Arrow Cross, is revered in Israel as a national hero, which is a real guarantee that her memory will survive. This should be the case in Hungary too, and not only in Jewish circles.

In connection with the performance, I remembered that a public square in Győr bears the name of Hanna’s second cousin. Szenes Iván Park.

Szenes Iván Park in Győr (3)

How is it possible? For Iván was born in Budapest in 1924 and died there in 2010.

Searching the web, it didn’t take much effort to see how Iván Szenes, a very popular non Győr native, was connected to the city.

Let’s see the artist first. It is almost impossible to list the main spheres of Szenes’ artistic activity.

According to Wikipedia (3), Iván Szenes is a Hungarian writer, songwriter, playwright and composer. According to statistics from 2000, he is the most performed author in Hungary, with more than 400 theatre premieres to his credit. He was honoured with the Distinguished Artist Award.

Iván Szenes in 1973 (4)

His father, Andor Szenes (1899-1935), was also a writer.

After WW2, Iván worked as a journalist and as a dramaturg, as well as artistic director of theatres, while writing his songs one after the other.  

And here comes the Győr connection: between 1961 and 1979, Iván Szenes was the dramaturg of the Kisfaludy Theatre in Győr.

He has an amazing list of hits. All well-known songs, performed by the most famous Hungarian pop singers and outstanding actors of the 20th century. People of my generation might be heartbroken at the memory of these songs. Just a few examples of the greatest hits, mentioning the original performer of each song:

  • Nehéz a boldogságtól búcsút venni – Group Apostol
  • Isten véled édes Piroskám, Nemcsak a húszéveseké a világ – László Aradszky
  • Jöjjön ki Óbudára – Tivadar Bilicsi
  • Az a jamaicai trombitás – Gyula Bodrogi with Ági Voith
  • Kicsi, gyere velem rózsát szedni – Zsuzsa Cserháti
  • Kicsit szomorkás a hangulatom máma – Iván Darvas
  • Melletted nincsenek hétköznapok – Violetta Ferrari
  • Mindenkinek van egy álma – Teri Harangozó
  • Próbálj meg lazítani – Géza Hofi
  • Álltam a hídon – Katalin Karády
  • Annyi ember él a földön, Kislány a zongoránál, Nem vagyok teljesen őrült – János Koós
  • Bocsánat, hogyha kérdem – György Korda
  • Úgy szeretném meghálálni, A régi ház körül, Találkozás egy régi szerelemmel – Kati Kovács
  • Álltam a hídon – Olivér Lantos
  • Mások vittek rossz utakra engem – Imre Ráday
  • Szeretni bolondulásig – Pál Szécsi
  • Orchideák – Klári Tolnay and Antal Páger
  • Engem nem lehet elfelejteni – Hédi Váradi Tölcsért csinálok a kezemből – Sarolta Zalatnay

You can get emotional, you can hum the catchy tune and you can complain. Whatever the case, according to Wikipedia, Iván Szenes is the most prolific Hungarian hitmaker of all time. And probably one of the most successful too.

The old Master (5)

After the artist’s death, his daughter Andrea Szenes established the Iván Szenes Art Prize.

His popularity in Győr is unbroken. The park named after him bears witness to this. This July, the Iván Szenes Memorial Evening and Family Day was organised in Győr for the eighth time.

The poster of the Memorial Evening in 2022 (6)

Even in death, Ivan’s popularity may help to preserve Hanna’s memory.

Compiled by Krausz Péter


(1) HANNA – szabadesés több szólamban, Szentendrei Teátrum The play will be shown in Budapest in the automn.

(2) Színház online

(3) Google maps

(4) Wikipedia


(6) Kisalföld