The Johann Strauss Society

Kéler Béla (1820-1882) 

Kéler Béla was a Hungarian composer of Slovak origin, born on 13 February 1820 who died in Wiesbaden in Germany on Nov. 20th, 1882.  He studied music in Vienna under Schlesinger and Sechter and played the violin at the Theater an der Wien where he became known for his dances and marches. Of particular note was the fact that Brahm’s Hungarian Dances No.5 originated as his Csárdás Bártfai emlék op.31, with the exception of one movement being added by Brahms himself.  Between 1854 and 1855 he conducted Josef Gung’l’s orchestra in Berlin and included a lot of his own compositions. The following year Kéler Béla returned to Vienna to take over Lanner’s orchestra with Jakob Haag, following the very early death of Lanner’s son, August Lanner. He became an Austrian Bandmaster between 1856 and 1863 and played in Vienna. He was also to become the music director of the Spa orchestra in Wiesbaden until 1873 where he retired.  He had earlier been decorated by the Prince of Prussia for his contribution to music. Kéler Béla like many of his contemporaries travelled a lot, appearing as guest conductor in Hamburg, Denmark, Breslau, and London where he conducted promenade concerts in Covent Garden, and in Manchester in 1874.

Today he remains best known for his many overtures, such as Ungarische Lustspiele op.73. There are 139 published works with opus, but he is still relatively little recognised outside his native Hungary, and only now are some of his many attractive dance pieces becoming better known, many through You Tube. His best waltz was Am schönen Rhein gedank’ ich dein Op.83  that appeared on the original Robert Stolz famous 12 Volume set, Wiener Musik.  The Society has just recorded with Naxos his waltz Vom  Rhein von Donau op.138 and the galop Kimo Kaimo op.84 for the first time for full orchestra.

More information on him can be found on the Kéla Béler Society website:

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