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Ukrainian Composers born in the 19th Century

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Author Topic: Ukrainian Composers born in the 19th Century  (Read 585 times)
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« on: February 08, 2016, 12:23:20 pm »

There is a guy called Iosyp Sozansky and he is the conductor of the Chernivtsy Regional Philharmonia ( - Chernivtsy is a rather picturesque city in western Ukraine and something of a cultural centre).  He appears to be leading (since 2015) a project called The Revival of Forgotten Manuscripts which focuses on Ukraine's composers from the 19th century and putting the resulting performances online.

A large part of the output so far consists of the music of Mykhailo Verbytsky (1815-1870). He is known in Ukraine today as the composer of the country's stirring national anthem "Ukraine has not yet perished / Shche ne vmerla Ukraina".  But his output was significant - as can be seen from his wikipedia entry which I copy in below.

I have put in the downloads section 12 of his works which I found on youtube, all recordings of live concerts.  His symphonies are very short and (according to his wikipedia entry) "are more like overtures".  Personally I think they are quite "Schubert-esque" and would love to hear if others think so too.  Highly melodic.

I have put in the downloads section:

Cantata - The Gathering of My Countrymen in Ukraine (this track includes the National Anthem at the end) (cantata arranged for orchestra by Frantsishok Fridrikh)
Testament ("Zapovit"), after Taras Shevchenko
Orchestral suite (Kolomiyka + mazurka)
Polonaise No.1 in D major
Symphony No.1 (arranged by Stanyslav Lyudkevych)
Symphony No.2 in C major
Symphony No.4 in G major (from 1864)
Symphony No.5
Symphony No.6 (version for solo piano)
Symphony No.7 in A major (my favourite - urgent opening theme, as in Schubert's Unfinished 8th)
Symphony No.10 in D major (dedicated to Orest Sinkevich) ( - I know that the wikipedia says he wrote 9 symphonies so I can't explain this one....)

Mykhailo Mykhailovych Verbytsky (Ukrainian: Михайло Михайлович Вербицький) (born March 4, 1815 in Jawornik Ruski, Austria-Hungary (now Poland) - died December 7, 1870 in Młyny) was a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest and composer. He is considered to be one of the first professional Ukrainian composers of Halychyna.[1] Verbytsky is known for composing an alternate melody to the song Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy (Ukraine's glory has not perished), which later became the national anthem of Ukraine. His first name is sometimes translated to the English version of Michael, Polish Michal, Russian and other languages (see Michael for more).

Mykhailo Verbytsky was born in the Nadsyannya. Sources often differ as to the exact location of his birth. He was however born in Jawornik Ruski[1] and christened 8 km away in Ulucz[2] (the site of the oldest wooden church in Poland where his father was the local priest. Both are now in Subcarpathian Voivodeship, Poland.)

Verbytsky as born into the family of a priest. He left an orphan at the age of 10, and was raised by his father's brother, bishop Ivan Snihurskiy, from then on. Snihurskiy took Mykhailo to live with him in Peremysl, where his uncle was very active: founding the city's first Ukrainian language printing press, published compilations of folkore and textbooks about the Ukrainian language. In 1818, Snihurskiy even founded a dyak-teaching institute in the city, and ten years later, a cathedral choir and music school.[1] Verbystky was therefore placed in a very active and creative environment.

In 1833, Verbytsky entered the Theological Seminary in Lviv. Here he became seriously engaged in music, learning to play the guitar, which became his favorite musical instrument. He eventually wrote a textbook teaching how to play the guitar and wrote pieces for the instrument. Because of financial problems, he twice had to leave the Seminary, but he eventually graduated and became a priest.[2]

The church in the village of Mlyny, where Verbystky spent much of his life.
In 1852 Verbytsky received a parish in the village of Mlyny, Yavorskiy county, where he would live and work for the rest of his life. As a priest he wrote may liturgical compositions, which are still sund throughout the Halychyna region. Some of these include "Єдинородний Сине" (Oh Only Beggoten Son), "Святий Боже" (Oh Holy God), "Алилуя" (Alleluia), "Отче наш" (The Lord's Prayer), and "Хваліте Господа з небес" (Praise the Lord from the heavens)

As a composer he helped lay the foundations for the development of modern Ukrainian music. His works are formally unsophisticated, often strophic, and usually in the minor mode; but his stage works (notably Prostachka (‘The Simpleton’), 1870) are representative of a popular folk genre that was melodically fluid, singable, pictorial and emotionally evocative. His instrumental writing does not extend far beyond the simple development of folktunes. Nevertheless, he composed 12 so-called symphonies (really overtures), the sixth of which Stanislav Lyudkevich based an orchestral piece and a piano trio. He also composed Zapovit (‘Testament’, 1868), a setting of Shevchenko’s poem for bass solo, double choir and orchestra, the operetta Podgoryane which was staged in Lemberg (now L′viv, 1864), and numerous sacred and secular choral works and songs. He is best known as the composer of the Ukrainian national anthem Shche ne vmerla Ukrayiny (‘The Ukraine has not Perished’), which in 1917 was adopted by the new Ukrainian republican government.

Musicologist Uliana Petrus' has put together a list of 133 known compositions by M. Verbytsky. These include:

Large scale secular choral works - 30
Sacred choral works - 37
Vocal ensembles
Art songs -10
Arrangements of folk songs - 10
Orchestral works - 18 works including 9 symphonies
Chamber works
15 works for various instruments
Music to 12 stage works

In 2005 the chapel-pantheon over the tomb of Mykhailo Verbytsky was opened to mark the 140th anniversary of Ukrainian national anthem and 190th anniversary of its composer.
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