The harpsichordist and conductor Václav Luks founded the Prague baroque orchestra Collegium 1704 and vocal ensemble Collegium Vocale 1704 on the occasion of the project Bach — Prague — 2005. In 2008, Music Bridge Prague — Dresden began, bringing together the two cities’ wealth of cultural traditions, which in 2012 led seamlessly to a second Collegium 1704 concert series at the Rudolfinum in Prague. In 2019 Collegium Vocale 1704 launched a series of chamber concerts, continuing since 2021 at Vzlet, the Prague palace of culture.
Recently, it has received invitations from such prestigious presenters and concert halls as Salzburger Festspiele, Berliner Philharmonie, Theater an der Wien, Wiener Konzerthaus, BOZAR in Brussels, Chopin Festival in Warsaw, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Zaryade in Moscow, and it is an ensemble-in-residence at the Opéra Royal in Versailles and Bachfest Leipzig. In May 2021, Collegium 1704 opened the international music festival Prague Spring with a performance of Smetana’s My Country.
In the field of opera, Collegium 1704 followed up on the international successes of its production of Handel’s Rinaldo with performances of Mysliveček’s L’olimpiade, nominated for the 2014 International Opera Awards, and of Vivaldi’s Arsilda in modern-era world premiere. In February 2022 presented Händel ́s opera Alcina directed by J. Heřman in co-production with ND Brno, Opéra Royal de Versailles and Théâtre de Caen.
In 2014, Collegium 1704 collaborated with Bejun Mehta on a DVD of Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice with the stage director Ondřej Havelka and with Rolando Villazón on the making of the BBC 2 documentary Mozart in Prague. The ensemble recorded music for the director Petr Václav’s upcoming feature film Il Boemo about the life of Josef Mysliveček, to be released in July 2022.
Their recordings are popular with both listeners and music critics (Diapason d’Or, CD of the Month & Editor’s Choice, and nominations for CD of the Year by Gramophone). Among their successful CD recordings have been Mysliveček’s violin concertos, Bach’s B Minor Mass, Zelenka’s Sonatas and Missa Divi Xaverii. Their most important recent achievements include the first complete Czech recording of Handel’s Messiah and a 3-CD with Rameau’s opera Les Boréades, which won the Trophées 2020 and Edison Klassiek awards for the best opera release of the year.
In 2021, the ensemble founded its own online platform UNIVERSO 1704, where it releases premieres of video-concerts that connect exceptional works in top-class interpretations with the genius loci of attractive places in the Czech Republic and Germany.