Czech Museum of Music to open for free, offers a look at normally closed areas

It has been 15 years since the The Czech Museum of Music opened in Prague’s Malá Strana district

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 21.11.2019 15:36:13 (updated on 21.11.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Museum of Music will be open for free on Friday, November 22, to mark 15 years since it opened in its current location on Karmelitská 2/4 in Prague’s Malá Strana district.

People will be able to visit normally inaccessible areas in the museum, housed in the former Church of St Mary Magdelane. The gendarmerie lounge will also be open throughout the day, offering a view of Malá Strana and Hradčany. A guided tour at 4 pm will show more normally closed parts. People interested in the tour should book online at due to limited capacity.

In addition to the
permanent exhibition of musical instruments, there is a temporary
exhibition called Import Export Rock ’n’ Roll, which traces the
history of that genre in the communist era. People can see what sorts
of albums were available through official shops, and listen to clips
of music from that era. Western songs, for example, were often
re-recorded by Czechoslovak stars but with different lyrics.

The state did make
some efforts to attract Western acts, but could seldom afford to pay
for them. The Beach Boys came in 1969, but efforts to bring other top
acts in the 1970s and ’80s were not successful.

moog synthesizer
Moog synthesizer in the Import Export Rock ’n’ Roll exhibit. via Raymond Johnston

One of the most
bizarre tales in the museum’s rock exhibit is of a female pop group
called Satanic Girls, which left Czechoslovakia in 1968 to become
famous briefly in Latin America.

People can also try
their hands at an original Moog synthesizer, the instrument that gave
many rock songs a distinctive sound.

During the 15 years
of its existence, much has happened in the Czech Museum of Music.
There have been acquisitions for the entire music collections such as
the original letters and family correspondence of Bedřich Smetana
and Antonín Dvořák, items from the family of the composer Josef
Suk, and photographs and recordings of Ema Destinnová.

Musical instruments
that have enriched the collection include, for example, the pearl
piano or the cello by the Italian manufacturer Marconcini.

Czech Museum of Music
Czech Museum of Music. via Raymond Johnston

There is a piano that was played by Mozart. In 2016, a short piece of music co-written by Mozart and Antonio Salieri, the rivals from the film Amadeus, was found in the collection of music and performed there for the first time in over 200 years. It had long been considered lost.

The museum is also
expanding its research and restoration departments and is active in
documenting the current music scene.

The museum building has not been a church since in 1782, when
Austro-Hungarian Emperor Joseph II abolished hundreds of convents and
monasteries not involved in teaching. The Baroque church and cloister
was built in the 17th century and designed by Francesco Caratti. At
one point, it housed Dominican monks, and after deconsecration was a
post office, a barracks, and part of the State Archives before
becoming the Czech Museum of Music.

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