Béla Kéler

Composer, violinist, and conductor Béla Kéler was born in Bardejov on February 13, 1820. After studies in Levoča, Debrecen and Prešov, he was admitted into the orchestral section of the first violins at the Theater an der Wien in 1845. A year later, he published his first opus number out of the total of 139 published compositions and was continuously improving himself in harmony and counterpoint. In 1854, in the orchestra of Johann Sommer in Berlin, Kéler's career as a conductor started and continued in the following season in the Lanner Orchestra in Vienna. Between 1856 - 1860 Kéler held the position of a bandmaster of the Count Mazzuchelli military band. After a short engagement at the head of his own orchestra in Budapest, he left for Wiesbaden, where he lived and worked for the last twenty years of his life. From 1863, he led the local orchestra of the Second Regiment of the Duke of Nassau, and later also the spa orchestra. Starting in 1873, he was a guest conductor of orchestras in London, Manchester, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Leipzig, and Zurich. His music was at the time equal to the creations by the Strauss dynasty. Béla Kéler bequeathed a large part of his musical estate to his hometown, and today, it is in the collection of the Šariš Museum in Bardejov. The Béla Kéler Society was founded in 2014 to promote Kéler's musical heritage.