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Šarišské múzeum Bardejov
Šarišské múzeum

Composer´s heritage to the town Bardejov

 Love to homeland and hometown was one of the most important feelings for Keler during his life. He was not married, never had a family, and devoted his life to music. However, he loved his homeland. His compositions are witnesses of this love. He devoted his life to music. His yearning for home had probably started from this well. In his homeland he always found the rest after exhausting concert journeys.
        When he felt that the end of his life is near, he made a testament according to which he left all his musical heritage to the cities Bardejov and Prešov. It was not only beautiful and big-hearted deed, but also big honour and trust to his hometown. He believed that old-time town Bardejov will be a dignified caretaker of his heritage and he believed also that his artistic endeavour will not be forgotten.
        Short after composer´s death his heritage was sent to Bardejov. It encompassed two portraits of the composer, signs manual and original scores with printed versions of majority of his compositions, his awards, printed programs of all his concerts tied in 10 books, two volumes of piano versions of his compositions and so on.
        All inclusive extend of Bela Keler composer´s heritage cannot be exactly said, because no list of the items that were received was preserved. We even don´t know if he left such a list. After employees of museum received the heritage, the reference about it was placed in the register office of Bardejov city hall. After Saris Museum was established, the heritage was placed into its collections.
        In 1905 the campaign for memorable notice board on Keler´s house to be made started as the stimulus from Bardejov cultural institutions. The whole process was led by the commission which consisted of the functionaries of the town. The memorable notice board was opened in 1906 during which the orchestral concert full of Keler´s compositions was realized. There is rich correspondence well-preserved from the day in then official language, Hungarian.
        Similar event happened in1952, when there was Keler´s memorable notice board exhibited to the public. The original board was removed, but it has been preserved in the deposit of Šariš museum. It is of big size, the material is white marble with golden inscription in Hungarian language. The board is embellished with the embossement of the composer. Simultaneously there was opened also the memorable room of Vojtech Keler. There are displayed two portraits of composer, some manuscripts, printed music and several documents.
        Not a single one of the endeavours wasn´t sufficient stimulus to the formation of original scientific work about the life and work of the composer. There exists only brief monograph written by opera singer and musicologist, Stefan Hoza. For the present the most comprehensive study of Keler´s heritage was written in 1970 by associate professor, PhDr. Frantisek Matus, CSc. According to him, Keler´s heritage was found in a very inconvenient condition in the deposit of southern citadel. In the wooden container there were precious materials and documents threw with no system, probably the food for mice, the inhabitants of the container. Luckily, precious handwritings were not sharply damaged.  
        Later prolusory classification and detailed study of the material followed, which was definitively divided in three groups:

  1. Holographs and printed compositions by Bela Keler
  2. Holographs and printed compositions by other composers
  3. Written heritage of Bela Keler.

The documents and papers were put into paper wrappings with the title and signature. The inventory elaboration of all material followed. The register of the list goes beyond 250 pages and it is in handwriting.  It is tabular and it includes every sheet of music paper. Whole heritage of the musician found its dignified place in the archive of Šariš museum. However, the attention was not paied to this treasure for almost 40 years. It was required to take scores and distribute them to musicians… and play, nothing more.   
        190 years after Bela Keler was born, the time might start to fulfill the heritage of our famous countryman. His music is going to be revived, our lives enriched. In the end, let me mention the idea of Štefan Hoza: „Keler crossed the borders of Slovakia and it would be the ingratitude of his countrymen not to recollect his work and life. He deserves it, because in his time he meant a lot: he was popular and reputable. With his work he did honour to his native time-honoured Bardejov and to us, his countrymen.” 


Texts: Peter Bubák, Gymnázium L. Stockela. Webdesign & Website created by: Martin Urban, Anton Kovaľ, matto.softlabs@gmail.com. Used copies of documents, images and historical prints are published with confirmation of director of Šariš museum in Bardejov, PhDr.František Gutek.