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The Legacy of Migrant Musicians from Nazi-Europe in Britain 

The Music, Migration and Mobility project - September 2019 - September 2023
Project Summary:
Music, Migration and Mobility: The Legacy of Migrant Musicians from Nazi-Europe in Britain is a performance-led and multi-disciplinary project that seeks to better understand the significance of migration and mobility for music. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with a grant of c£900,000, it brings together an international team of musicians, archival researchers, musicologists and geographers for one of the biggest practice-led research projects at the RCM to date.
This four year interdisciplinary project studies the mobile lives, artistic products and impact on British culture of musicians who came from Nazi-ruled Europe during the 1930s and '40s. The project also probes the practical challenges of performing and mediating the largely unknown body of works by these musicians, doing so through a series of open rehearsal workshops, public performances and recordings involving RCM students and staff.
An ambitious programme of archival research in the UK, Germany, Austria and on the Isle of Man will shed new light on their experiences and contributions to national cultural renewal after the war and inform the practical investigations. Based on the archival research, the project will create online story maps that visualise where these musicians came from as well as where and with whom they worked, aiming both to understand and display the artistic relationships they formed with their British colleagues and with each other.

Principal objectives of the project are to:


  • Investigate the geographical, institutional and creative mobilities of musicians who migrated to Britain from Nazi-ruled Europe during the 1930s and '40s, and the contributions they made to the shaping of post-war British musical culture

  • Evaluate what was distinctive about the musical experience that these musicians brought with them, how it developed in their adopted country, and its legacy in contemporary institutions and practices

  • Investigate how music they composed after arriving in Britain can be understood by contemporary practitioners, and how it might best be presented to today's publics in ways that reveal its transnational nature

  • Develop innovative ways of displaying and disseminating the multi-faceted narratives of these musicians' lives as a means of advancing ongoing debates about migration, mobility and culture formation in general.

Further information is available on the research pages on the Royal College of Music website and through UK Research and Innovation.

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