The Collegium 1704 and Collegium Vocale 1704 ensembles were founded by the harpsichordist and conductor Václav Luks in 2005 on the occasion of the Bach–Prague–2005 project, marking the beginning of residential collaboration with the Prague Spring International Music Festival.
Since 2007, after their huge success with Zelenka's Missa votiva in France, Collegium 1704 has been regular guest at festivals around Europe – besides performing the fundamental pieces of baroque repertoir, promoting work of Czech masters like Jan Dismas Zelenka and Josef Mysliveček.
In 2008, they began the Prague-Dresden Musical Bridge concert series, which continues the rich cultural traditions of the two cities. Collaboration with the renowned soloists Magdalena Kožená, Vivica Genaux, and Bejun Mehta naturally led, in 2012, to a second concert series, called Collegium 1704 in the Rudolfinum (formerly Baroque Opera Stars), held at the Rudolfinum – Dvořák Hall in Prague. Since autumn 2015, the two concert series merged into one Season held in Prague and Dresden.
Following international successes with opera performance of Handel’s Rinaldo (directed by Louise Moaty) in 2009, the year of 2013 was devoted to rediscovery of the Czech composer Josef Mysliveček. His opera l’Olimpiade(directed by Ursel Herrmann) was presented by Collegium 1704 in Prague, Caen, Dijon, Luxembourg, Theater an der Wien and nominated for The International Opera Awards. In 2017, Collegium 1704 gave the modern-era world premiere of Antonio Vivaldi’s Arsilda, regina di Ponto, its first hearing in over 300 years, in Bratislava. Further performances took place at the Opéra de Lille, in Luxembourg, at the Opéra Royal Versailles, and in Caen.
Recent and upcoming guest performances include appearances at the Salzburg Festival, the Lucerne Festival, the Chopin Festival in Warsaw, the Festival Wratislavia Cantans, the Berliner Philharmonie, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Theater and der Wien, the Konzerthaus Wien, and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. The ensemble will also serve as artist-in-residence at the renowned Utrecht Early Music Festival and the Leipzig Bach Festival.
Radio and television stations throughout Europe broadcast many Collegium 1704 concerts live and recorded. In 2014, Collegium 1704 and Vaclav Luks collaborated with Bejun Mehta on a DVD project of Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice and a BBC Two documentary “Mozart in Prague”, starred by Ronaldo Villazon. Its recordings on the Accent, Zig-Zag Territoires and Supraphon labels are continuously acclaimed by the general public and music critics alike (including Diapason d'Or, Coup de Coeur by TV Mezzo, nomination for The Gramophone Awards by Gramophone Magazine etc.). In 2013, the long-awaited Collegium 1704 recording of J. S. Bach’s Mass in B minor was issued, in 2015, the world premiere recording of Missa Divi Xaverii by J. D. Zelenka. The most recent projects are Zelenka’s virtuoso Sonatas as well as Josef Mysliveček’s violin concertos in D major, E major, and A major...and why 1704? 1704 is a symbolic year of Jan Dismas Zelenka, our armorial composer. In August 1704 the church of St. Nicholas in Prague witnessed the magnificent performance of Zelenka’s Jesuit allegory play – Via Laureata. As we don't know anything about Zelenka's previous life, this event signifies the arrival of some of the most remarkable personalities of the 18th century music of the European music scene.