About the project
Musica non grata
The Musica non grata project revives the legacy of composers who played a vital role in the musical life of interwar Czechoslovakia and who were persecuted by the Nazis due to their ethnicity, gender, religion or political opinions.
Initiated by the National Theatre Opera and the State Opera and presented with the financial support from the Federal Republic of Germany in collaboration with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Prague, this four-year project focuses especially on the work of Czech composers and composers active within the German speaking community, who played a major part in the development of musical life of the capital of the First Czechoslovak Republic, especially from 1918 to 1938. Many of those composers had direct ties to the New German Theatre (today’s State Opera) and the National Theatre in Prague. They include especially the so-called “Terezín composers” – Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullmann – but also Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Erwin Schulhoff, Paul Hindemith, Ernst Krenek, Jaromír Weinberger, Paul Abraham, Kurt Weill or Arnold Schoenberg. Musica non grata also focuses on the works of extraordinary female composers of the First Republic including Julie Reisserová, Vítězslava Kaprálová, Ilse Weber, Sláva Vorlová or Elizabeth Maconchy.
The project also strives for artistic and research synergies. More than twenty concerts took place in 2020 and 2021, of which almost one half was available to online spectators. The successful staging of Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins and Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung in the autumn of 2021 was followed by four opera and operetta premieres at the State Opera and the National Theatre in 2022: Der ferne Klang (Franz Schreker), Flammen (Erwin Schulhoff), Ball im Savoy (Paul Abraham), and Schwanda the Bagpiper (Jaromír Weinberger).
In the first half of 2023, several remarkable projects came to fruition within the Musica non grata cycle: productions of Alexander Zemlinsky’s comic opera Kleider machen Leute (Clothes Make the Man), Viktor Ullmann’s one-acters Der zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug) and Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) and a performance of Arnold Schönberg’s monumental cantata Gurre-Lieder, which returned to a Czech stage after 17 years.
The 2023/24 season will pay special attention to works for children. We have in store a new production of Paul Hindemith’s Christmas opera Tuttifäntchen and the project for schools Goldhärchen (Goldilocks), a musical fairy tale created by the Theresienstadt composer Lena Stein-Schneider. In October 2023, Brno will host the 57th edition of the International Musicology Colloquium, focused on avant-garde opera in interwar Czechoslovakia. Organised by the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University and the National Theatre Opera and the State Opera in Prague, it will include a panel discussion featuring renowned musicologists, performing artists, directors of major European opera houses, as well as publishers and the media. The four-year Musica non grata project will conclude in April 2024 with an evening made up of concert versions of Hindemith’s opera Sancta Susanna and Zemlinsky’s Eine florentinische Tragödie (A Florentine Tragedy), and the final performance of Kleider machen Leute. Information about the events pertaining to “Entartete Kunst” and Musica non grata projects is available on this website, as well as within the Musica non grata FB group.