Malvern Court, South Kensington, London, England
Béla Bartók was a man who loved his country, who loved its rich ethnic diversity, its traditions and its heritage. As a young composer in the 1900s, he traveled the length and breadth of his native Hungary, furiously scribbling down and recording as much as he could of Hungarian folk songs, tunes and melodies he’d later weave through his orchestral work. So he was a man heartbroken when Hungary joined the Axis with Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Nazism was not what Hungary was about, and Béla Bartók wasn’t afraid to say so. Even though saying so made living in Hungary impossible. And so, he left. Over the next years, Bartók travelled far and wide, and even spent time in London where he had rooms in South Kensington. But he eventually settled in New York, where he died in September 1945 of leukemia, an exile from his own country. He was buried in a New York cemetery. Forty-three years on, in 1989, when Hungary was no longer under a Nazi or Communist regime, his body was brought to Budapest and after a state funeral, he was buried in the city’s Farkasréti cemetery. Béla Bartók was home at last.