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. 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.
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.
In 1979, Tauský published his memoirs under the title Vilem Tausky Tells his Story, which his wife Peggy Mallett co-authored. That same year, he was honoured as a Freeman of the City of London. 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's compositions include a Symfonietta for orchestra, a Ballade for cello and piano, the Fantasia da Burlesca for violin and orchestra, an oboe concerto (written for Evelyn Rothwell), a harmonica concerto (for Tommy Reilly), Coventry: A Meditation for Strings, and a Serenade for Strings.
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.
|Principal Conductor, BBC Concert Orchestra