Basic information
Original title:
Praški konservatorij kot središče glasbene Evrope v 19. in na začetku 20. stoletja: Vplivi praške violinske šole in migracije njenih predstavnikov po Evropi
Researchers involved:
1 July 2014–31 October 2017

The phenomenon of extensive migrations of Bohemian musicians across Europe was already taking place at the end of the seventeenth century. Second in number only to Italians, Bohemian musicians formed the largest group of foreign musicians at the courts of Germany and other European countries in the seventeenth century. Between 1740 and 1810, almost half of the professional violinists originating from Bohemia were active abroad; for that reason, Bohemia was called the “Conservatory of Europe.” Until the end of the eighteenth century, violinists originating from Bohemia were mostly active at various court music chapels in Mannheim, Berlin, Dresden, and elsewhere. In addition to the German lands, many violinists made a name for themselves in other European cities, such as Venice, Milan, Padua, London, Vienna, Budapest, Dublin, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and Paris. Many of them went down in music history as famous virtuosos and composers, important teachers, and even as founders of national violin schools. But in many cases Bohemian musicians not only made their way into significant positions. They were also active as music teachers or music promoters in smaller European villages and towns and markedly influenced musical life there as well.

With the establishment of the Prague Conservatory in 1811, a major wave of emigration of Prague violinists throughout Europe emerged. Attracted by prospects abroad, most of the talented and promising Prague violinists in the first half of the nineteenth century emigrated throughout Europe, particularly within the Habsburg monarchy. In the second half of the nineteenth century the Prague violinists’ roles and their migration routes changed. They still mostly emigrated to the cities within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and German Empire, but others also settled in the regions of Galicia and Bukovina, which were part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy until 1918, and in the neighboring Russian Empire and in the United States. They were active as concertmasters, violin pedagogues, virtuosos, chamber music promotors and performers, and organizers of musical and cultural life in numerous European and American cities.

Slovene lands were no exception: here also, Bohemians left an important mark in the musical landscape, being the main proponents of the development of violin playing. Bohemian violinists started to appear in Ljubljana already at the end of the eighteenth century. They were active as violinists, organists and composers within different churches. The earliest information about Bohemian violin teachers in Slovenia appears at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The first violinist alumni of the Prague Conservatory appeared in Slovene territory only in the second half of the nineteenth century, but the biggest wave of Prague violinists reached Slovenia at the turn of the twentieth century. They were active in the Philharmonic Society and the Music Society (Glasbena Matica) and its branches throughout the Slovene ethnic territory. They raised the first schooled Slovene violinists, performing the contemporary music repertoire and they took a leading role in the development of chamber music in the Slovene Lands. Until the beginning of the Second World War, the Prague violinists played a key role in the development of a musical culture in the Slovene Lands, and their strong influences we can, at different levels, still witness today. Slovene cities, such as Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Kranj and Novo mesto, where numerous Prague violinists immigrated, were included into the study. There they enhanced the cultural life and took care of music education of further generations.

By demonstrating the extensive migration of Prague violinists between 1811 and 1919, the historical importance of their contribution for the development of violin playing in Europe and Slovenia was displayed for the first time. The visualisation of the results and integration of the reserach into the various musical events has contributed to bringing science closer to a wider circle of music lovers. The present research filled some of the uncharted areas of musicology in the field of music migrations and violin performing. It also corrected a considerable amount of omissions from the Czech music history that had lost the traces of many of its own musicians who emigrated in the across Europe and to the United States. New biographical data and numerous other important facts relevant to musical history were introduced for the very first time. New views of the research significantly complemented and refreshed the historic view on the development of the performance of one of the most important musical instruments. The contribution of the overlooked Prague violinists to the development of violin playing in Europe and in the United States during the nineteenth and in the beginning of the twentieth century was evaluated.

Project manager at ZRC

Funded by

Slovenian Research Agency

Fields of research

Musicology H320 


Prague Conservatory • Prague Violin School • Music Migration in Europe • Violin playing • Violinists • Immigrant Musicians in the Slovene Lands