Centenary of birth of big band leader Gustav Brom

Gustav Brom Orchestra

Gustav Brom, whose orchestra were named one of the top ten big bands in the world by the US magazine Downbeat, was born on May 22, 1921.

The ensemble went on to play with such international stars as Dizzy Gillespie, Liza Minelli and Ray Charles, as well as backing domestic vocalists such as Karel Gott and Helena Vondráčková.

However the Gustav Brom Orchestra had rather more modest beginnings, first performing in a hotel in the town of Rožnov pod Radhoštěm in the Zlín region in June 1940.

Gustav Brom | Photo: Czech Radio

The Slovak-born Brom led the group from then until very near his death in September 1995, making him one of the longest serving leaders of a single band in the whole of Europe.

The orchestra’s current musical director Vladimír Valovič said that Gustav Brom was the only person in the socialist era who succeeded in finding success with his swing outfit abroad.

The ensemble’s golden period was the 1960s, when they regularly appeared on festival stages at home and abroad, performing in places such as Manchester, Nuremberg and Warsaw. Later tours even brought them to India and Cuba.

Since 2013 the Gustav Brom Big Band, which continued after its founder's death, has been a Czech Radio resident ensemble. It enjoyed a hit with the album Best of Swing & Pop, featuring unique recordings with Czech singers Karel Gott and Waldemar Matuška.