Home for the artist, memorial place for the public where the Hungarian composers lived in Hungary and abroad

MúzeumCafé 32.

To maintain any memorial place seems to be an expensive and often autotelic business. The location of a memorial place is given. It may be difficult to reach, off the beaten track for tourists, and thus its exhibitions are accessible at high cost and only for a few. The popularity of Hungary’s memorial places connected to music refutes all the above. They are continuously visited by student and especially tourist groups. Their advantage is that the oeuvre of a celebrated artist is international (unlike that of a poet), their archives offer necessary sources for researchers from far away, and you also have the spirit of the place which can be felt by an original musical instrument itself being displayed in its original location. A comprehensive museum of music, the Museum of Music History connected to the Institute of Musicology, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences exists today on Castle Hill. The museum was founded as a department of the Institute, which reopened after renovations and extension with a Haydn anniversary exhibition on 450 square metres in eight rooms in 2009. From a museological aspect regarding Hungary’s memorial places of music, it is the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre that is in the most favourable position since researchers and curators are no longer bound by copy and property rights. The museum funded by the Liszt Academy of Music operates in Liszt’s former official residence which he received as his fee. It opened on the centenary of his death in 1986. The composer lived in the apartment on the first floor from 1881 to 1886. The drawing room and bedroom/study have been reconstructed on the basis of contemporary photographs and descriptions, while the former dining room hosts temporary exhibitions. Two of Béla Bartók’s former apartments are designated as memorial houses, although the one in Rákoshegy mainly hosts concerts while the one in Pasarét operates as a traditional memorial museum. The composer, his first wife Márta Ziegler and Béla Bartók junior lived in the former, today called Bartók House of Music, between 1912 and 1920. From 1932 to 1940 Bartók lived with Ditta Pásztory in the Csalán Street, Pasarét house, the present building of the Béla Bartók Memorial House. Péter Bartók was born during this time and the couple emigrated to the USA from here. The house was nationalised after the war but Béla Jr. was able to rescue the furnishings. The museum opened on the centenary of the composer’s birth in 1981. For most of his life Zoltán Kodály lived in the apartment situated by the Budapest junction which today bears his name. A memorial museum and the Kodály Archives were founded here in 1990. They are managed by the Liszt Academy of Music’s Zoltán Kodály Institute of Music Education (Kecskemét). It is Ferenc Erkel who makes many people feel that despite the extensive memorial museum network in Budapest the presentation of Hungarian music history is imperfect. Although Erkel directed the Opera House and the Academy of Music, composed the music for the Hungarian National Anthem and created national opera, no museum has been established in any of his several apartments in Pest and Buda. You have to travel to his birthplace, Gyula, to find his memorial house. Although the museum in Gyula represents a deserving commemoration of the composer, Budapest should still have a memorial place for Erkel who lived in the city for nearly 60 years, from 1835 until his death in 1893. With a change of genre, there comes Imre Kálmán who has a memorial museum in his birthplace, Siófok. He was born in the house at No. 5 on today’s Kálmán Imre Promenade in the town centre. And here the list of Hungary’s memorial houses devoted to Hungarian composers ends. Although there is a Goldmark House in Keszthely, visitors are allowed only into the courtyard to view his memorial plaque at most. The reconstruction of Jenő Hubay’s mansion on the Bem embankment offers somewhat more and represents a success story. It happened thanks to the benevolence of the next-door hotel owner, who since 2008 has operated it as the Hubay Music Salon in line with the former owner’s practice of four decades. Two foreign composers, Haydn and Beethoven, have museums devoted to the years they spent in the country. Between 1766 and 1790 Haydn lived in Eszterháza, more precisely in the Music House built for accommodating the court musicians and which belonged to the palace. He composed a considerable part of his works there, including his more than 50 symphonies. One of the most well-known, the ‘Farewell’ Symphony of 1772, was first played in the palace ceremonial and concert hall. Although the whole atmosphere of the palace and the park is imbued with the spirit of Haydn, only a small exhibition is devoted to the composer in the Haydn Memorial Room in the Music House outside the palace. Summer concerts are part of what Martonvásár offers, rendering tribute to the memory of Beethoven who visited the Brunszvik Mansion on several occasions, since he was close friends primarily with the female members of the family.