Victor Kolar (1888-1957): A Czech Musician in Early Twentieth-Century America
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The early twentieth-century composer, conductor, and violinist, Victor Kolar (1888–1957) has largely been left out of modern music history. To date, no modern scholarship has been written on Kolar’s life, professional career, or position in the American music scene during the first half of the twentieth century. Through an examination of contemporary newspaper accounts, government documents, and archival material both in the United States and in the Czech Republic I present the first in-depth study of Kolar’s life and career to place him within the larger American orchestral culture and the development of classical music radio broadcasts.
The role of immigrant musicians in the United States is often underrepresented in the study of early twentieth-century American music, which typically focuses on the life and work of “indigenous” American composers and musicians. This focus discounts the influence of immigrant musicians who served as working musicians in American orchestras and concert halls. Using Kolar’s life and professional output as an example, I examine his role as an immigrant musician in American musical life and his formation of a Czech-American identity.