The Music Archive, contained within The Lobkowicz Archives, holds over 5,000 items. Originally housed in The Lobkowicz Library at the principal family seat of Roudnice Castle, the entire archive was confiscated first by the Nazis in 1941, and again under the Communist regime, which sent it to the Museum of Czech Music. In October 1998, the Music Archive was physically returned to the family in its entirety and moved to Nelahozeves Castle under the auspices of the Roudnice-Lobkowicz Foundation.
The Music Archive
The Music Archive, begun by Ferdinand August, the 3rd Prince, was assembled over three centuries by principal members of the family who were not only great patrons but also enthusiastic collectors, and often talented performers. The Music Archive contains works by over five hundred composers and musicians. These include a rare collection of late 17th- and early 18th-century lute, mandolin and guitar scores. This collection, regarded as the world’s largest private collection of baroque music for plucked instruments, is particularly rich in works by French composers, such as E. and D. Gaultier, St. Luc, Ch. Mouton, J. de Gallot, and others. The Music Archive is most celebrated, however, for its late 18th- and early 19th-century collection, including works by Handel, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.
Philip Hyacinth, the 4th Prince, and his second wife, Anna Wilhelmina Althan, were both distinguished lutenists and he an accomplished composer as well. The Prince and the Princess were both taught by some of the finest contemporary lutenists, including Sylvius Leopold Weiss and Andreas Bohr, and their fine period instruments still reside in The Collections. Their son, Ferdinand Philip played the glass harmonica and championed the gifted son of one of the family's foresters, the remarkable opera composer Christoph Willibald Gluck.
The family member who had the greatest impact on the history of Western music, however, was undoubtedly the 7th Prince, Joseph Franz Maximilian. A talented singer, violinist and cellist, the 7th Prince was the great patron of Beethoven. Beethoven dedicated the 3rd (Eroica), the 5th, and the 6th (Pastoral) symphonies to the Prince, as well as other works.
It was the annual stipend provided by the Prince (and continued by his son until the composer’s death), supplemented by support from the Archduke Rudolf and Prince Kinsky, that allowed Beethoven the freedom to compose without dependence on commissions and time-consuming teaching.
In addition to the manuscripts and printed music, The Collections include musical instruments from house orchestras that performed in the various family residences at Jezeří and Roudnice in Northern Bohemia, but principally in Vienna where the Lobkowicz Palace was unequalled in the quality of its performances and the sophistication of its audiences.
On display at Lobkowicz Palace in Prague are lutes from the 16th and 17th centuries by Maler, Tieffenbrucker and Unverdorben; a 17th-century guitar; violins of Italian, German and Czech origin (Gasparo da Salo, Stainer, Eberle, Hellmer, Rauch); contrabasses from Edlinger and Stainer; Guarneri and Kulik violoncelli; 18th-century Viennese wind instruments and a pair of copper martial kettledrums. A notable highlight of the collection is a magnificent suite of six richly decorated silver trumpets made in 1716 by Leichamschneider of Vienna – one of only two documented sets in existence.
The Nelahozeves Castle Music Room displays a spinet, a contrabass by Posch and other string instruments as well as two pair of copper and bronze kettledrums.