The Dvořák Society for Czech and Slovak Music


The Dvořák Society’s “Vilém Tauský Archive Collection” of historic recordings


The Dvořák Society is making available on CD certain historic recorded performances, conducted by Vilém Tauský, to be known as the Vilém Tauský Archive Collection. This venture will be used to raise money for the Society’s Scholarship Fund.

First Tauský Archive releases

The first release comprises two complete operas, sung in English:

Tausky_Archive_Jenufa Leoš Janáček - “Jenůfa”
Catalogue no: VT 01/02 – 2CDs
Jenůfa – Gré Brouwenstijn
Kostelnička – Laelia Finneberg
Števa – Andrew McPherson
Laca –Franz Vroons
Grandmother – Edith Coates
Mill foreman – Arnold Matters
With: Olivia Rossi, George James, Elsie Boardman, Pamela Petts, Mildrid Watson, Beryl Hatt and Irene Brightman; The BBC Chorus, chorus-master Leslie Woodgate; The Goldsbrough Orchestra, leader Emanuel Hurwitz;
Conductor: Vilém Tauský
Recorded: Camden Theatre, London, 25 November 1954
£9.00 + postage & packing

Tausky_Archive_Dalibor Smetana   “Dalibor”
Catalogue no: VT 03/05 – 3CDs
Vladislav – Dennis Noble
Dalibor – Richard Lewis
Budivoj – Ian Blair
Beneš – Stanley Clarkson
Vitek – Alexander Young
Milada – Joan Hammond
Jitka – Suzanne Danco
With: The BBC Chorus, chorus-master Leslie Woodgate; The Philharmonia Orchestra, leader Max Salpeter
Conductor: Vilém Tauský
Recorded: May 1955 (note: this is not the Tauský recording of Dalibor on the Gala label which has a completely different cast and dates from 1969)
Price: £12.00 + postage & packing

To buy these CDs, please contact our Record Service Administrator. The address is:

32 Blundell Drive,

Telephone: 01704 564 025 (outside the UK: +44 1704 564 025)

Origin of the Archive recordings

The CDs now being offered by the Dvořák Society are from transcription recordings taken off-air of Vilém Tausk’s work with the BBC. These were originally in Tauský’s possession, but were disposed of after his death when his apartment in London was cleared. Our vigilant member Peter Herbert spotted these recordings being offered for sale on eBay and secured them for the Society. He then arranged for audio-engineer Jim Bostwick to recover all the music from what were mainly fragile acetates and turn it into digital files. The Society paid for the original discs and for the costs of transcription: and now Peter has created the first two issues in CD format, complete with booklet notes.

The BBC has confirmed that these recordings fall into the Public Domain under UK copyright law, since they are more than 50 years old. Thus all the Dvořák Society’s net profits from the sale of the discs will accrue to our Scholarship Fund.

Possible future releases

It is hoped that further recordings of smaller works will be issued in due course, to include Tauský arrangements of works by Vaňhal, Tauský’s own Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra on themes by Smetana together with some folk song arrangements.

In 2021, when it enters the Public Domain, it may be possible to publish a 1971 recording of Janáček’s Osud, conducted by Tauský, taken from an open reel tape donated by Society member Ted Pettinger. This is of the ‘Flashback’ edition by Václav Nosek (1921–2000) in which Acts 1 and 2 are inserted into the middle of Act 3. Gregory Dempsey sings Živný amd Marie Collier sings Míla, possibly her last recording before her tragic death.

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About Vilém Tauský

The composer, conductor and teacher Vilém Tauský CBE FGSM (1910–was a much loved and respected Vice-President of the Dvořák Society. He was born on 20 July 1910 in Přerov, central Moravia, into a musical family and entered the Brno Conservatoire during the last few months of Janáček’s life. There Tauský studied composition (under Vilém Petrželka), orchestration (Osvald Chlubna) and conducting (Zdeněk Chalabala). Later he secured a place at the Master School of the Prague Conservatoire where Josef Suk was his composition professor.

Before Tauský had completed his studies in Brno, his exceptional talents were recognised when Chalabala invited him to assist at the Brno Opera in Fibich’s Šarka: and shortly after he conducted Puccini’s Turandot at the last moment when Chalabala fell ill. He gained a huge amount of experience including assisting, at the age of 21, in the world première of Erwin Schulhoff’s opera Plameny (Flammen, Flames) in Brno on 27 January 1932. He conducted Schulhoff’s Jazz Oratorio “HMS Royal Oak” (1930) for Brno Radio in 1933 — probably only its third performance. But he should not be typecast as a specialist in the avant garde and in fact conducted or participated in a repertoire ranging from Bach to operetta, taking in Dvořák and Mussorgsky on the way.

International events then intervened. Tauský, who was of Jewish descent, moved to France following the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, and joined the Free Czech Army. Bohuslav Martinů composed his Field Mass (Polní mše) H.279 for Tauský’s regimental band but the German invasion of France denied Tauský the world première (which eventually took place in 1946 under Rafael Kubelík in Prague). Tauský continued to serve as a military bandmaster in the Czechoslovak army-in-exile Britain. During this time he conducted the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the first complete British performance of Smetana’s Má vlast (My Country) cycle.

After the war Tauský remained in Britain and was granted British Citizenship in 1948. He conducted many different British ensembles and held important positions including the Carl Rosa Opera Company (musical director, 1945–1949), Welsh National Opera (music director, 1951–1956) and the National School of Opera (1951–1954). In 1956 he took over from Charles Mackerras as principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra and remained in that rôle until 1966. He was Director of Opera and Head of Conducting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1966-1992.

Tauský’s advocacy of Martinů’s music continued. In 1955 he conducted all six of the Symphonies in London to mark the composers 65th birthday. The cycle was split between two orchestras — the London Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony — and it was the first time the cycle had been performed complete anywhere in world, according to the Martinů scholar Jaroslav Mihule.

Throughout his busy career as a performer and teacher, Tauský continued to compose. His original compositions ranged from orchestral and chamber music to operetta and film scores.

Vilém Tauský died on 16 March 2004 in London.