‘Legacy of Migrant Musicians’ supported by SHL is awarded £900k AHRC Grant

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded a grant of c. £900,000 to the project ‘Music, Migration and Mobility: The Legacy of Migrant Musicians from Nazi-Europe in Britain’.

music archiveThe project, which will run for three years, will study the mobile lives, artistic products and impact on British culture of musicians who came from Nazi-ruled Europe during the 1930s and '40s. Many of them went on to make major contributions to art music in the ensuing decades as performers, composers, arrangers, conductors, broadcasters and teachers. It will make use of the diverse archives held at Senate House Library as well as Glyndebourne, the German Historical Institute, the Migration Museum Project, the Austrian Cultural Forum London, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Manx Museum. The project will involve RCM students and staff as performers, coaches and music editors.

Led by the RCM’s Norbert Meyn, who has previously curated the ‘Singing a Song in a Foreign Land’ project at the Royal College of Music and explored the theme with his professional Ensemble ÉMIGRÉ, the project will be a collaboration with co-investigators Peter Adey, Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Nils Grosch, Professor of Music History at Salzburg University.

Based on the archival research in the UK, Germany, Austria and on the Isle of Man, the project will create online story maps to visualise where these musicians came from as well as where and with whom they worked, aiming to both understand and display the artistic relationships they formed with their British colleagues and with each other. As well as tracing the lives of musicians, the maps will highlight their connections with some of Britain’s most important classical music institutions, including Glyndebourne, the BBC and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. 

The project will also examine the practical challenges of performing and mediating their compositions, through a series of open rehearsal workshops, public performances and recordings, culminating in an international conference hosted by the RCM and the GHI. 

Commenting on the award, Norbert Meyn said: ‘I am hugely excited about this opportunity to work with an international and multi-disciplinary team in a project that puts the music of migrants centre stage. I sincerely hope it will enable us to better understand the significance of migration and mobility for music.’


For further information please contact The Royal College of Music: research@rcm.ac.uk