Reviews by music critics after the Prague premiere of Taras Bulba on 9 November 1924 performed by the Czech Philharmonic and conductor Václav Talich:
The work was composed in 1915/1916 during the Great War, when Janáček was undergoing an especially heated internal struggle between the Czech patriot and the passionately committed Russophile within him. For Janáček, the fates of both Slavic tribes were closely bound, and if he decided at the time to celebrate in music the indestructible power of the Russian people as expressed in Gogol’s treatment of the legend of the courageous rebel leader of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, Taras Bulba, he certainly also identified therewith his unbroken faith in the victory of his own nation.
It seems to me that here, the improvisational method has given way to sturdy structure that has taken an organic form. Janáček’s colours burned fiercely. This time, they bore witness to the inner necessity of the work’s creation, with its power of expression and formal clarity.
The audience listened to the work breathlessly with absolute absorption, and at the end they erupted into cheering of a kind seldom witnessed at classical music concerts.