Vilém Tauský

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Vilém Tauský CBE (20 July 1910, Přerov, Moravia – 16 March 2004, London) was a Czech conductor and composer.


Vilém Tauský was from a musical family: his Viennese mother had sung Mozart at the Vienna State Opera under Gustav Mahler, and her cousin was the operetta composer Leo Fall.

Tauský studied with Leoš Janáček and later became a repetiteur at the Brno Opera. His other teachers included Vilém Petrzelka (composition) and Zdeněk Chalabala (conducting). At the age of nineteen he conducted Puccini's Turandot in Brno on short notice in place of Chalabala, who had become ill.[1] Tauský was of Jewish ancestry, and the rise of the Nazis forced him to move to France. He later volunteered for service with the Free Czech Army. He eventually reached the UK after the fall of France and was later awarded a Czech Military Cross, followed by the Czech Order of Merit at the end of the war. He served musical functions in the Czechoslovak Army in exile, as a military band conductor in France. Bohuslav Martinů composed his Field Mass for Tauský and his regimental band, but the fall of France prevented them from giving the premiere. He continued as a band and choir leader in the UK.[2]

From 1945 to 1949, Tauský was musical director of the Carl Rosa Opera Company. He was music director of Welsh National Opera from 1951 to 1956. On 26 December 1953 he became possibly the only conductor to conduct two operas on the same day, with a performance of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel in the afternoon at Sadler's Wells and Giuseppe Verdi's Il trovatore at Covent Garden in the evening. He conducted the premiere of The Violins of Saint-Jacques in 1966 at Sadler's Wells. He was the first foreign conductor to conduct the Band of the Coldstream Guards in 100 years and was an instructor/adjudicator at Kneller Hall for some years, as well as an adjudicator at the annual Brass Band competitions. He was principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra from 1956 to 1966. He regularly appeared with this orchestra on the BBC Light Programme's long-running weekly show Friday Night is Music Night. Between 1966 and 1992, he was the director of opera and head of the conducting course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As a composer, his most popular success was the Harmonica Concertino he wrote for Tommy Reilly in 1973, which was also used for a ballet in New York.[3]

In 1979, Tauský published his memoirs under the title Vilem Tausky Tells his Story, which his wife Peggy Mallett co-authored.[4] That same year, he was honoured as a Freeman of the City of London.[1] In 1981, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He and Mallett published the book Leoš Janáček: Leaves from his Life in 1982. Tauský and Mallett were married from 1948 until her death in 1982. He was the stepfather of her two sons, who both died before her. He is survived by his companion of his later years, Brenda Rayson.[1]

Selected Works[edit]

  • 1925 - Cello Sonata No 1
  • 1930 - Symfonieta for orchestra
  • 1930 - Three Songs for soprano & piano
  • 1932-8 - Three operettas (for Brno Opera House): Marcella, Keep Smiling, Little Girl in Blue
  • 1934 - Christopher Columbus, play with music
  • 1935 -The Lost World, music for documentary film
  • 1939 - Variations for piano on an original theme
  • 1940 - Two Military Marches: The Czechs are Marching, Call to Arms
  • 1941 - Coventry: A Meditation for String Quartet [5]
  • 1942 - Variations on a Welsh tune, piano
  • 1943 - Interim Balance, music for documentary film
  • 1945 - Rhapsody on tunes by Smetana for piano & orchestra
  • 1950 - Concert Overture for Brass Band
  • 1957 - Fantasia da Burlesca for violin & orchestra
  • 1964 - Cello Sonata No 2
  • 1965 - String Quartet
  • 1973 - Concertino for Harmonica,Strings,Harp & Percussion (written for Tommy Reilly)[6]
  • 1978 - From Our Village, three movement suite for orchestra
  • 1980 - Suite for Violin & Piano
  • 1998 - Serenade for Strings


  1. ^ a b c Graham Melville-Mason (19 March 2004). "Obituaries: Vilem Tausky". The Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  2. ^ Meirion Bowen (19 March 2004). "Obituary for Vilem Tausky". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  3. ^ Musicweb International
  4. ^ Music and the Holocaust
  5. ^ Continental Britons: The Emigre Composers, Ensemble Modern, Nimbus Records
  6. ^ Chandos Records

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Charles Mackerras
Principal Conductor, BBC Concert Orchestra
Succeeded by
Marcus Dods