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. Collaborations with such world-famous soloists as Magdalena Kožená and Vivica Genaux in 2012 led seamlessly to a second Collegium 1704 concert series at the Rudolfinum in Prague. Since autumn 2015, the two cycles have been merged into a single concert season that continues to take place in parallel in Prague and Dresden. In 2019 Collegium Vocale 1704 launched a series of chamber concerts, continuing since 2021 at Vzlet, the Prague palace of culture.
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. Recently, it has received invitations from such prestigious presenters and concert halls as Salzburger Festspiele, Berliner Philharmonie, London’s Wigmore Hall, Theater an der Wien, Lucerne Festival, 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 at festivals Oude Muziek in Utrecht and the Leipzig Bachfest. In May 2021, Collegium 1704 opened the international music festival Prague Spring with a performance of Smetana’s My Country.
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 takes part in making the director Petr Václav’s epic historical film Il Boemo about the life of Josef Mysliveček.
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 award 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.