Musica non grata
… and yet it still resounds
Musica non grata, a four-year project of the National Theatre Opera and State Opera in Prague, financially supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, revives the legacy of composers who played a vital role in the musical life of interwar Czechoslovakia and who were persecuted by the Nazis. Many works that the authorities labelled as “Ertartete Musik”, decadent, degenerate music, are returning to the stage after a very long time.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Prague was a multi-ethnic city boasting a thriving culture, with artists from Czech, German and Jewish backgrounds influencing each other. The fruits of this creative atmosphere were unique literature, theatre, architecture and music whose significance transcended regional borders. At the time, Prague was – owing in large part to the Neues deutsches Theater (New German Theatre, today State Opera) – a European music hub with a glittering social life, which, however, transformed utterly following the Nazi rise to power. While the more fortunate of the artists fled and continued to work in exile, numerous outstanding figures, including distinguished composers, were cut down at the peak of their creative powers and murdered at concentration or extermination camps.
The Musica non grata cycle stretches across four seasons (2020–2024), during which the National Theatre and State Opera primarily present productions and co-productions of avant-garde operas dating from the first half of the 20th century. The programme also includes symphonic and chamber music concerts, and features such accompanying events as exhibitions, symposia, workshops, debates and film projections. In addition to information concerning the individual performances, the project’s website provides a database of the composers and other artists who lived and worked in Prague from 1918 to 1938, as well as other information pertaining to the cultural life in Czechoslovakia between the two world wars. Interesting historical facts and up-to-the-minute details on Musica non grata events are also available within the project’s Facebook Group.
First and foremost, Musica non grata celebrates music as a creative force, paying tribute to human craft and dignity, rediscovering music that forms an integral part of humanity’s modern-day history, music that should not be silenced.
For more information, visit www.musicanongrata.cz and the Musica non grata FB Group.
The project has been financially supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Prague.