Silhouettes of people in the background in three different colours: white, orange, and grey. People appear to be heading in different directions and there is a violin in the foreground.

Music, Migration and Mobility

Online Resource -  Émigré musicians from Nazi Europe

Welcome to this online resource, which combines materials generated by the RCM’s major practice-led research project ‘Music, Migration and Mobility’ (a collaboration with Royal Holloway University of London and Salzburg University, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) and previous projects.
Here you can find in-depth stories, interactive storymaps, biographical information about featured musicians, professionally filmed oral history interviews as well as sheet music editions and recordings of featured works

The unprecedented wave of emigration of highly skilled musicians from Nazi-Europe in the 1930s and 40s had a lasting impact on musical culture in Britain, the United States and many other countries. Many of them were Jewish, and often their family members and friends were displaced by or murdered in the Holocaust. In Britain, major cultural institutions like the BBC, the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne Opera, publishers and conservatoires all employed émigré musicians. Indeed, today’s international professional classical music scene owes much to their contribution, which we aim to celebrate.

The cross-disciplinary research underpinning this resource is led by artistic practice, exploring the stylistically diverse and often multilingual music of émigré composers in performance, combined with archival research, oral history research and geographical research informed by mobility studies.

This online resource is curated by RCM professor Norbert Meyn.

What we provide

This online resource enables you to

  • Read in-depth stories about musicians, music and institutions
  • Learn more about the journeys of musicians through interactive storymaps  
  • Watch oral history interviews of and about musicians who emigrated from Nazi Europe
  • Browse biographies of featured musicians and find links to external sites with further information
  • Download free PDF sheet music editions and hear recordings of featured works

How you can use this material

This online resource can support you to:

  • Find music to play/sing by composers whose work is associated with migration to Britain
  • Find information about the history of this music to contextualise performances
  • Learn more about music and migration, WW2 internment and the role of refugees and immigrants in important cultural institutions like Glyndebourne

How we have developed these resources

The Music, Migration and Mobility Project is led by an international multi-disciplinary team, who have collaborated to seek to better understand the significance of migration and mobility for music. The project explores the mobile lives, artistic products and impact on British culture of musicians who came from Nazi-ruled Europe during the 1930s and '40s.

The team have also interviewed many musicians who emigrated from Nazi Europe and worked with families and friends of musical migrants who have passed away, to learn more about their lives.

Music has been at the heart of this project, through practice-based research using a series of open rehearsal workshops, public performances and recordings involving RCM students and staff.

Music, Migration and Mobility is the fruition of various projects over the last decade. Learn more about the project’s history here.

Get in touch

You can get in touch with project curator Norbert Meyn via his details below.

Norbert Meyn

A special thank you goes to the international team of the Music, Migration and Mobility project, and the many RCM students who have supported this research and the preparation of this online resource.

Disclaimer: All images used on this site in connection with the 'Singing a Song in a Foreign Land' project are used in good faith. We have made every effort to ascertain copyright permissions for historical images and this information has been included where known. Please contact Norbert Meyn: if you believe an image has been used incorrectly.

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