Zavertal Collection

A collection of printed and manuscript music and correspondence of the Zavertal family.

Joseph, Wenceslas and Ladislao Zavertal

The Library holds material deriving from three different members of the Czech Zavertal family: brothers Joseph (1819-1893) and Wenceslas (1821-1899), and Ladislao (1849-1942), son of Wenceslas. The brothers studied music at the Prague Conservatorium while Ladislao studied mainly in Italy.

The association with Glasgow came in 1872 when Ladislao was, for a short time, Special Instructor to the Glasgow-based Band of the North Devon Regiment (11th Foot). He was involved in various musical activities in the city for a number of years before becoming Master of the Royal Artillery Band in 1881, a position he held until retirement in 1906. Henry Farmer (1882-1965), a Royal Artillery bandsman for some time during Zavertal’s mastership, kept in touch with Ladislao and initiated negotiations which led to the deposit of these manuscripts, plus a few published works, in the University of Glasgow Library in 1928.

Ladislao Zavertal holdings

  • Music - several operas and cantatas by Ladislao Zavertal, about 20 part-songs and some 50 songs, over 60 items for orchestra or military band, over 60 pieces of chamber and instrumental music, and a number of arrangements of works by other composers. About 60 of the works held include a set of parts.
  • Archival material - a considerable quantity of archival material, including numerous letters. Among the correspondents are Antonin Dvorák (1841-1904), Sir Edward German (1862-1936), Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie (1847-1935), and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900). Most of these documents were not received until several years after Zavertal’s death in 1942. (There is also some archival material in the Farmer Collection; in particular, correspondence concerning Farmer’s biography of Zavertal.)

Wenceslas Zavertal holdings

  • Music -songs and part-songs by Wenceslas Zavertal, a number of pieces for orchestra or military band (mostly with parts), and about a dozen chamber and instrumental pieces.
  • Archival material - notebooks, diaries, a partial autobiography and letters, including one from Dvorák and a postcard from Edvard Grieg (1843-1907).

Joseph Zavertal holdings

  • Music - There is one piece of piano music by Joseph Zavertal.


At the time that Ladislao Zavertal donated his musical works, the University also benefitted from the gift of a number of Mozart relics previously belonging to Wenceslas Zavertal, who was a friend of Mozart’s son Karl. Of these, the portrait of Mozart’s wife Constanze, by Josef Lange, is in the care of the Hunterian Art Gallery, while the remainder, including Mozart’s penultimate letter mentioning the first performance of the Magic Flute, are in the Library.

How to find material in the Zavertal Collection