New Music Galleries at the Lobkowicz Palace
The Lobkowicz Palace is bustling with new musical resonance. In the heart of its museum exhibition dwells a reimagined suite of two new music galleries, illuminating some of the greatest musical moments in history.
The prelude to this suite was the culmination of a seven-year-project to catalogue and study the Lobkowicz Music Archive from which a wider breadth of musical content, along with exciting discoveries, could be more greatly displayed and interpreted.
After several months of reconstruction and renovation, these exceptionally enhanced spaces invite visitors to explore over 300 years of rich musical heritage in the Lobkowicz Collections and family. The new rooms showcase an unparalleled collection of musical instruments, reflected in a set of Baroque plucked string instruments and ceremonial trumpets. The most brilliant period of Lobkowicz musical activity is explored through the ardent devotion of Franz Joseph Maximilian, 7th Prince Lobkowicz (1772–1816), most notable for his life-long patronage of Ludwig van Beethoven. Highlights include Mozart’s autograph revisions of Handel’s Messiah, and period manuscript copies and first printed editions of Beethoven’s Symphonies nos. 3, 4, and 5. Archival and accounting records, family correspondences, and other never-before-seen musical treasures bring new musical life and context to the rooms.
Czech architects Martin Hrdina and Michal Pavlík, supported by a team of over 80 people, conceived of a unique exhibition concept for the remodelled spaces. The floor plan was redesigned into the shape of a Baroque guitar. Overhead, a copy of the ceiling painting of the Vienna Lobkowicz Palace concert hall recreates the atmospheric setting wherein the first rehearsals and private performances of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3 (Eroica) took place in 1804.
Audio-visual technology brings an interactive element to the galleries. Visitors can browse through musical scores and manuscripts in more detail on touch screens, explore new archival material hidden in drawers like secret compartments, or get lost in the music of Beethoven streaming from one of the sound showers—surrounded by portraits of musical luminaries and Lobkowicz family members. Digital projections also illuminate the space with 17th-century operatic scenes and an animation of Mozart’s adaptation of Handel’s Messiah. This immersive musical experience is made complete with an audio guide narrated by William Lobkowicz and the rooms’ curators, Vassar College Associate Professor of Music Dr. Kathryn Libin, and Curator of the Lobkowicz Music Archive Dr. Petr Slouka.
We thank our generous donors, the City of Prague, and media partner Radio Classic Prague for their support of the new music rooms.
The Lobkowicz Music Collection, comprising about 5,000 items, was assembled over three centuries by principal members of the Lobkowicz family who were not only patrons, but also enthusiastic collectors, performers, and composers. The family’s personal tastes and affinities are reflected in the collection, which include 18th-century lute tablatures, oratorios and operas in manuscript and early prints, and scores and performing parts for symphonies and quartets—some with hand-written annotations—by Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven.