The harpsichordist and conductor Václav Luks founded the Prague baroque orchestra Collegium 1704 and vocal ensemble Collegium Vocale 1704 on the occasion of the project Bach — Prague — 2005. In 2008, Music Bridge Prague — Dresden began, bringing together the two cities’ wealth of cultural traditions. Collaborations with such world-famous soloists as Magdalena Kožená and Vivica Genaux in 2012 led seamlessly to a second Collegium 1704 concert series at the Rudolfinum in Prague. Since autumn 2015, the two cycles have been merged into a single concert season that continues to take place in parallel in Prague and Dresden. In 2019 Collegium Vocale 1704 launched a series of chamber concerts, continuing since 2021 at Vzlet, the Prague palace of culture.
Recently, it has received invitations from such prestigious presenters and concert halls as Salzburger Festspiele, Berliner Philharmonie, Theater an der Wien, Wiener Konzerthaus, BOZAR in Brussels, Chopin Festival in Warsaw, Besançon Festival, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and it is an ensemble-in-residence at the Opéra Royal in Versailles Bachfest Leipzig. In May 2021, Collegium 1704 opened the international music festival Prague Spring with a performance of Smetana’s My Country. A CD featuring a complete recording of the concert was released in 2022. In the field of opera, Collegium 1704 followed up on the international successes of its production of Handel’s Rinaldo with performances of Mysliveček’s L’olimpiade, nominated for the 2014 International Opera Awards, and of Vivaldi’s Arsilda in modern-era world premiere. In February 2022 presented Händel´s opera Alcina directed by J. Heřman in co-production with ND Brno, Opéra Royal de Versailles and Théâtre de Caen.
In 2014, Collegium 1704 collaborated with Bejun Mehta on a DVD of Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice with the stage director Ondřej Havelka and with Rolando Villazón on the making of the BBC 2 documentary Mozart in Prague. The ensemble recorded music for the director Petr Václav’s feature film Il Boemo (2022) about the life of Josef Mysliveček, which was premiered within the main competition at the film festival in San Sebastian. Collegium 1704 also appears in Václav’s documentary Confession of the Vanished (2015). In 2021, the ensemble founded its own online platform UNIVERSO 1704, where it releases premieres of video-concerts that connect exceptional works in top-class interpretations with the genius loci of attractive places in the Czech Republic and Germany.
Their recordings are popular with both listeners and music critics (Diapason d’Or, CD of the Month & Editor’s Choice, and nominations for CD of the Year by Gramophone). Among their successful CD recordings have been Mysliveček’s violin concertos, Bach’s B Minor Mass, Zelenka’s Sonatas and Missa Divi Xaverii. Their most important recent achievements include the first complete Czech recording of Handel’s Messiah and a 3-CD with Rameau’s opera Les Boréades, which won the Trophées 2020 and Edison Klassiek awards for the best opera release of the year. The aforementioned live recording of Má vlast (My Country) also earned enthusiastic reviews and responses in international and domestic media (Czech Radio Vltava, Klasika +, Rondo, Scherzo, BBC Radio 3, Télérama, BR – Klassik, and others).
… and why 1704? 1704 is a year of special significance for Jan Dismas Zelenka, our “composer laureate”. In August 1704, the church of St. Nicholas in Prague witnessed the magnificent performance of the Jesuit play Via Laureata with Zelenka’s music. As we know next to nothing about Zelenka’s previous life, this event heralds the arrival of the greatest genius of Czech Baroque music, who was also one of the most original composers in history.
Martina Kuncl Štillerová
Joan Boronat Sanz
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Collegium 1704Mánesova 1374/53120 00 Praha 2
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