Vilém Tauský-‘Coventry’

Posted on May 4th, 2014 by


Vilém Tauský-‘Coventry’  (Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Morgan Goff Wellbanks) LO-FI rehearsal recording, 3 5 14

Peter Sheppard Skaerved, MIhailo Trandavilovski, Morgan Goff, Valerie Wellbanks, rehearsing 'Coventry', Leamington Spa 4 5 14

Peter Sheppard Skaerved, MIhailo Trandavilovski, Morgan Goff, Valerie Wellbanks, rehearsing ‘Coventry’, Leamington Spa 4 5 14

Today I will give my first concert playing the music of Vilém Tauský. I feel bad about this, as Tauský, who I never met, was a long term inspiration in approaching and understanding Leoš Janá?ek’s music, which has been so important to me for so long. Tauský’s collection of Janacek’s speech notations and diary entries, Leaves from His Life has been a regular visitor to my pile of reading books, providing a wonderful insight into the composer’s ideally quotidian approach to the making, hearing and detecting of music in everything. Tauský reveals, in this modest little his teacher as a musical gnostic, finding melos under every stone, in (quite literally) every spark of the tram pantograph on the streets of his native Brno.

Vilém Tauský (1910-2004)

Vilém Tauský (1910-2004)

But today , our concert focuses on a profound work by Tauský, his Coventry. This work was the young composer’s response to the ruins of the city of Coventry, shattered by the cumulative bombing raids of 1940. Tauský, who had escaped from France to the UK on a Yugoslav collier after Dunkirk, was in uniform, sent to the city and its famously broken Cathedral, to help with the immediate clear-up. In many ways, I am very uninformed about this piece. I know that it was premiered by Isolde Menge’s Quartet in one of the concerts run by Howard Ferguson and Myra Hess at London’s National Gallery. Beyond that, all that I have, is my response to the score, and to studying it over the past few months, and most importantly discovering its sound world, with my dear colleagues, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Morgan Goff and Valerie Wellbanks.

Coventry November 1940

Coventry November 1940

There are two things which struck me as soon as I played this piece. The first is that, consciously or not, Tauský was ‘riffing’ on the deeply emotional piece written by Josek Suk at the beginning of the First World War-the Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale ‘St. Wenceslas’, Op.35a This had become an important work for free Czechs, and it’s very clear, if you have played both pieces, that Tauský had built his piece on the memory of the shape and meaning of Suk’s work, without copying it in any way. The second is, that, despite having been in the UK for a comparatively short time, less than a year, Tauský had found a way to the heart of English (and I use this word carefully) lyricism. It’s shining out from this piece, a gesture of love to the country which would become his home, the sweet rebuttal of violence.

 

 

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