Music Archive

For centuries, musical activities have been a tradition of the Premonstratensian monasteries. While the Strahov collections are relatively poor in medieval musical artifacts, they are rich in documents illustrating the local musical life of the 18th and 19th centuries. The music archive, along with a collection of musical instruments, is currently deposited at the National Museum - Czech Museum of Music.

Theater playbill for Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, 1794. Print, paper; 344 × 395 mm Strahov Library, sign. Ach I 11/17

Characteristics of the Music Archive

Older musical monuments are primarily found in the Strahov Library's collection. One of the most valuable is the so-called Strahov Codex, a collection of polyphonic compositions from the late 1460s. Unfortunately, medieval sources for the liturgy practiced at Strahov have not survived, with the oldest Premonstratensian liturgical manuscripts dating from the late 16th century. However, a vast music collection was created at the monastery, which was transferred to the National Museum after the dissolution of religious institutions in 1950. The collection was restituted after 1990, but building suitable storage facilities exceeds the current possibilities of the canonry.

Today, the Strahov music collection comprises 6233 archival units, making it one of the largest music collections in Bohemia. Its size has grown over time, incorporating not only church compositions for the Strahov choir but also many other musical works from parish churches where Premonstratensians served (e.g., Milevsko). Valuable music pieces were sometimes purchased at auctions (especially under Abbot Václav Mayer) or acquired through bequests, creating an exceptionally extensive collection of historical music in Prague's ecclesiastical circles. Among these church compositions, for example, nearly 200 manuscripts of compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are preserved, indicating a mixture of both sacred and secular works. There are many works by other composers whose pieces were performed at the Strahov Monastery at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Notably, among the Strahov Premonstratensians were composers such as Jan Lohelius Oehlschlägel (1724-1788), Gerlacus Jan Strniště (1784-1855), and music scholars like Romuald Perlík (1882-1947).


Pontifical of Albert of Šternberk, 1376
W. A. Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro, copy from the end of the 18th century, score
W. A. Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro, copy from the end of the 18th century
Strahov Codex, 1460s