visegradTowards a common regional history of our nation building strategies.

Traveling directors, musicians

Visegrad Grants 2020–2021


About the project

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the process of nation-building took place, though shifted in time, with similar strategies in the countries of the region. The (musical) theater was one of the central institutions of nation-building; the research of its history brings us closer to the understanding of the complex cultural processes, characteristic of this multilingual region. The survey of the region’s source material from the period 1860–1920 has been already carried out in the framework of a previous V4 Grant by this group (Regional Source and Bibliographical Database). Continuing this pioneering work, the recent project focuses on personalities – theater directors, composers, and prominent singers; most of their careers connected a number of cities in East-Central Europe. Currently, these biographical studies are only partially or superficially available; moreover, there is no regional overview at all. The main purpose of this project is to make progresses in this respect and to present, as a result of our joint work, the regional network that promoted the creation of the nationally oriented music theatrical industry in the very period as the cosmopolitan genre of the opera got acclimatized in the major multilingual and multi-ethnic cities of East-Central Europe. This can only be imagined on a multidimensional map: in the same East-Central European geographic area, even in the same city, and at the same time we can witness the cultural nation building of several nations. In this context we must try to think about influences, patterns, and cultural transfers.

Past decades in the V4 countries were defined by national historiography, and national narratives did not include regional connections, nor the acknowledgment of the cultural and ethnic diversity of the region as a whole. Through biographical research on theater directors and musicians we can highlight international cultural transfers as well as the regional network that implemented nation building strategies. We wish to release our results on multiple levels and in different forms, targeting various types of audiences. Research results are primarily summarized in a biographical database (which will be accessible on the project’s website), studies will be published in the series Olmützer Studien, and lectures will be held, among others, at an international conference to be organized by our group (Budapest, February 2021) on regional (music)historiography. Wider audiences will be addressed by lecture recitals (Budapest, Bratislava, Olmütz, Krakow) featuring the region’s repertoire, further, 2 articles and radio presentations in each country. As far as the education is concerned, our results will be presented in the form of university lectures, addressed to broaden public with a special emphazis on High School students (from Dębica, Kraków, Rzeszów and Przemyśl will be organized in Krakow; an din 3 High Schools in Budapest).


The common history of our nation building processes also outlines a region. It may seem evident in cultural life, but, within humanities, the attempts to remove historiography out of national boundaries are still in an early stage. It was due to the international character of the music theatrical source materials that their thorough processing has been neglected by the nationally-biased research. Our project is pioneering in a narrow professional sense, too, but we are particularly keen to make our research results available for a wider audience. Our regional network researches, as well as the planned conference on regional historiography, can generate broader interest because they direct attention, in the wake of the Trianon-Centenary, toward our common values and tasks.


The research team’s previous V4 project laid the foundations for the research on the multilingual network of East-Central Europe’s musical theaters, and the collaboration confirmed our belief that our research ought and should be performed in a regional context. Members of the research team are university professors, full-time researchers, and young research assistants. Each of the participating institutions committed themselves to research and transfer of our cultural values. Regional cooperation is supported by all institutions, which are convinced that this is a vital issue for our professional development as well as for cultural education in general.


The participating institutions are prominent research facilities and universities. Hungarian, Slovakian, and Czech team members started their joint work 2017-2018 with a Visegrad Grant project (No. 21720187), one new colleague from the Polish partner institution (which already collaborated in a previous application) joined the group. The institutional infrastructure guarantees the background for the planned output. The applying institution in Budapest will host an international conference – these events are regular in the institution’s practice. Studies will be published in the English-language scientific journal of Olmütz University. We plan lecture recitals, workshops and university lectures at all four participating institutions and, similarly to the previous V4 grant, we will deliver papers, write articles, and give radio interviews on the project.