The Archive of the Sorbian Institute in Germany

Portrait of Korla Awgust Kocor

The following has reached us from Annett Bresan:

Sorbisches Kulturarchiv / Sorbische Zentralbibliothek am Sorbischen Institut Bautzen

Serbski kulturny archiw / Serbska centralna biblioteka při Serbskim instituće w Budyšinje

The Archive of the Sorbian Institute (Sorbisches Kulturarchiv) is the only archive for the Sorbian language and Sorbian studies that is open to the public. The Sorbs (historically also called Wends) are a Slavic minority in Germany that has lived for centuries in Upper and Lower Lusatia (a historical region in the present-day states of Saxony and Brandenburg). The Sorbisches Kulturarchiv (SKA) and the library can trace their roots back to the collections of the organization Maćica Serbska that was founded 1847. They preserve documents of importance for historic research as well as for contemporary culture, and make them available to their users. Among the most important holdings are the archives of Sorbian politicians, academics, musicians, authors, and artists. The files of Domowina, the umbrella organization of Sorbian associations, make up one comprehensive collection in particular, and it covers the years from its founding in 1912 to 1989. Added to this are the records of Sorbian associations, including the Maćica Serbska, school and university associations, choirs, and several cultural and educational organizations up to 1989. A special place in our collections is held by the photograph collection, archives of photographers, sound recordings, and film material. In addition to these materials, the SKA also collects dissertations, newspaper clippings, programs, and posters that concern Sorbian topics.

Representatives of Sorbian choirs, 1929
Representatives of Sorbian choirs, 1929, at the Kocor monument in front of his birth house in Berge (Großpostwitz)

Music – folk songs as well as art music– is an important component of Sorbian cultural history and modern cultural life. This is reflected in the holdings of the SKA, which include folk song collections and in particular composer archives, where you can find music manuscripts, mostly from the twentieth century. The middle of the nineteenth century saw Sorbian singing festivals that served as the starting point for a national rebirth of the Sorbian minority, and from this time period we have the compositional archive of Korla Awgust Kocor (Sorbian name) / Karl August Katzer (official German name).

Kocor, who was born in 1822 as the son of a cottager in the small village of Berge near Großpostwitz, was a teacher and cantor in Upper Lusatia. For over 30 years, he worked in Kittlitz near Löbau, where he died in 1904. He made a name for himself as a composer, conductor, writer on music, and promoter of Sorbian musical life. Many of his compositions are based on texts by Handrij Zejler / Andreas Seiler (1804-1872), a pastor and poet in Lohsa. Together they wrote a number of songs that have since been accepted as folk songs and the oratorio cycle Die Jahreszeiten.

Rjana Łužica
"Rjana Łužica" (Beautiful Lausitz), the present-day Sorbian hymn. Music by Kocor, text by Handrij Zejler. (SKA, ZM XVIII 4 A)

Hanka Schmole, a graduate of the music conservatory in Leipzig, is making it possible for the SKA to begin cataloging music manuscripts by Korla Awgust Kocor in RISM (siglum: D-BAUscb). A pilot project has been underway since September of this year.

By working with this international music database we are going into uncharted territory, but Dr. Hartmann from the Dresden office of RISM Germany has been guiding us in an exceedingly helpful way, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank her warmly for her assistance.

Any questions about the SKA or about using its collections may be directed to Dr. Annett Bresan (

3 Sonatinen für Geige und Klavier
Excerpt from 3 Sonatinen für Geige und Klavier (SKA, ZM XVIII 10 J)


Excerpt from "Podlěćo" (Early Summer) (SKA, ZM XVIII 6 E)




Mětšk, Frido: K. A. Kocorowe zawostajenstwo w Serbskim kulturnym archiwje (The K. A. Kocor Collection in the Sorbisches Kulturarchiv), Budyšin 1971.

Sorbisches Kulturarchiv,




Category: Library collections

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