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Ukrainian Composers born in the 19th Century

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« on: February 02, 2016, 08:41:40 pm »

Having a bit of time of my hands at the moment, and being a bit of a Slavophile (musically anyway) I decided to research the "youtubeosphere" to see what (orchestral) Ukrainian music has been posted up - recordings of live concerts, old Soviet broadcasts, old Soviet LP transfers, etc.  There is quite a lot there.

My current favourite is a Christmas carol "Oh what a Miracle" ("Shcho to za Predivo"/"Що то за предиво") by Vasil Barvinsky (1888-1963) - two youtube recordings stand out - (solo soprano, chorus and orchestra) and (soprano + a capella).   Unusually I like the a capella more.    Lovely lush late-romantic stuff and melodious in the extreme.

Other Ukrainian composers, all "unsung", whose orchestral music I have found include:

Hordiy Hladkiy (1849-1894)
Stanyslav Lyudkevych (1879-1979)
Petro Nishchynsky (1832-1896)
Levko Revutsky (1889-1977)
Denis Sichynsky (1865-1909)
Yakiv Stepovy (1883-1921)
Mykhailo Verbytsky (1815-1870)
Mykhailo Verikivsky (1896-1962)

What has become very clear is the central role that the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) has on the "Ukrainian soul" - he is to the Ukrainians what Burns is to the Scots, Pushkin to the Russians and Goethe to the Germans. His major poem "Testament" ("Zapovit") has been set to music by Boris Lyatoshynsky (1895-1968), Hladkiy, Verbytsky, Lyudkevych, Revutsky, Barvinsky, Gliere - and others who fall outside "my" preferred period (Kabalevsky, Silvestrov, Frolyak...).

When I am dead, bury me
In my beloved Ukraine,
My tomb upon a grave mound high
Amid the spreading plain,
So that the fields, the boundless steppes,
The Dnieper's plunging shore
My eyes could see, my ears could hear
The mighty river roar.

When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears
Into the deep blue sea
The blood of foes ... then will I leave
These hills and fertile fields --
I'll leave them all and fly away
To the abode of God,
And then I'll pray .... But until that day
I know nothing of God.

Oh bury me, then rise ye up
And break your heavy chains
And water with the tyrants' blood
The freedom you have gained.
And in the great new family,
The family of the free,
With softly spoken, kindly word
Remember also me.

Anyway, I am going to convert the youtube recordings which I like of the above composers, and others that I find, into mp3 files for my own enjoyment. I will, needless to say, abstain from anything that is commercially available.  Would people be interested if I were to post them up in the downloads section?
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2016, 12:17:58 pm »

Some of the youtube "rips" that I post up aren't of the best audio quality. Live concerts have the inevitable coughing etc, while less formal gatherings have more, or background chatter, or "blips", or (in a couple of cases) the first and/or last notes cut short!  But in the absence of any other recordings of the music of these composers, this is what we have.  If those things irritate you beyond distraction (and this is understandable), then best not listen!
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2016, 12:18:23 pm »

Vasyl Barvinsky's piano concerto was posted up here a couple of years ago.  I thought it sounded like a good piece poorly played. Very melodic. 

I post here his Ukrainian Rhapsody, his setting of Taras Shevchenko's "Testament" ("Zapovit"), and two recordings of his carol "Oh what a miracle", which I mentioned above (and which I really love). One a capella, and one with orchestra.  Performer details in the downloads section.

Barvinsky's wikipedia entry reads as follows:

Vasyl Oleksandrovych Barvinsky (Ukrainian: Василь Олександрович Барвінський) (20 February 1888 – 9 June 1963) was a Ukrainian composer, pianist, conductor, teacher, musicologist, and music related social figure.

Barvinsky was one of the first Ukrainian composers to gain worldwide recognition. His pieces were published not only in the Soviet Union, but also in Vienna, Leipzig, New York (Universal Edition), and Japan. Barvinsky directed a post-secondary musical institution in the city of Lviv (1915-1948), and was considered to be the head of musical life at the time. Currently there is a College of Music named after Barvinsky in Drohobych city of Ukraine.

Vasyl Barvinsky was born in Ternopil, on 20 February 1888. Barvinsky descended from an older aristocratic family. Barvinsky's father, Oleksander Barvinsky, was famous Ukrainian pedagogue, politician, and public figure. In 1917 he was appointed a member of the Austrian upper chamber. Vasyl's mother, singer and pianist, became his first music teacher.

Barvinsky gained professional music education in Lviv conservatory. Barvinsky continued his music education in Prague. Among his teachers were Vilém Kurz (piano), and Vítězslav Novák (composition).

Barvinsky has written about 30 works. Barvinsky’s compositions are said to be impressive by their “… matureness’, thoughtfulness and delicacy”. Barvinsky composed in various genres except ballet and opera. His style, late romantic with impressionistic features, was also strongly influenced by Ukrainian folklore. Although many of Barvinsky's works were lost, most of his creative inheritance remained and is performed worldwide.

and a rough translation from Ukrainian wikipedia:

In October 1939 he was elected to the People's Assembly of Western Ukraine, which was proclaimed the accession of Western Ukraine to the USSR.

In 1939-1941 and 1944-1948, respectively, while as a director and chairman of the Lviv Conservatory Lviv branch of the Union of composers he wrote several works mostly vocal genre. These were portrait sketches to the musical based on the songs of O. Dovbush.

In early 1948 he was arrested. He was forced to sign a document, "Allow destroy my manuscript." And his manuscripts were destroyed. Then there was a long exile for 10 years in the Mordovian gulag camps.

After returning from exile (1958) all his strength was focused on restoring the memory of his works, which had been destroyed during his arrest (he worked on this until his death).

He was buried in Lviv in the Lychakiv Cemetery in the family tomb (field number 3).

1964 the long-term efforts on the part of Lviv-based composers (especially A. Kos-Anatolsky) reached their goal:  Barvinsky was rehabilitated. Nevertheless, his music for almost 25 years was almost everywhere removed from the concert repertoire.

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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2016, 12:18:54 pm »

Yakiv Stepovy is the brother of Fedor Akimenko (Fedyr Yakymenko), who has been discussed on this site before  - I don't know why they have different surnames.

Most of his recorded output that I have found consists of songs with orchestra.  Plus his Prelude in Memory of Taras Shevchenko, for which I have uploaded three recordings.

Scatter in the Wind, after Ivan Franko (Ukrainian poet, 1856-1916)
Do not sing happy songs
Because the sun rises, after Taras Shevchenko
Oy three wide roads
My evening star
Ukrainian serenade

His wikipedia entry reads as follows:

Yakiv Stepovy (Ukrainian: Яків Степовий) (born October 20, 1883 – died November 4, 1921) – was a Ukrainian composer, teacher, and music critic. Stepovy was born Yakiv Yakymenko ( Akimenko) in Kharkiv, in the Russian Empire (in present-day Ukraine). Stepovy's older brother, Fedyr Yakymenko (Theodore Akimenko (fr)), was also a composer.[1] Stepovy was a representative of the Ukrainian musical intelligentsia of the 20th century. He was one of the founders of the national school of composition and composed in the tradition of Mykola Lysenko.[2]

Stepovy was a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied with Alexander Glazunov and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and graduated in 1914.[1][3]

During World War I, Stepovy was recruited to the military, where he worked as a secretary on a hospital train.[3] He served in the military for almost three years, until he managed to get released in April 1917.[4] After this he settled in Kiev where he worked as a teacher at the Kiev Conservatory and a musical critic.[2]

He was a master at choral and piano works, the author of music collections for children, teacher of the Kiev Conservatory and founder of the State vocal quartet

and roughly translated from Ukrainian wikipedia:

Yakiv's father worked in the church choir, elder brother - Fedyr Yakymenko - studied singing at the St. Petersburg court chapel and later became a famous Ukrainian composer.
Yakiv also was admitted to the St. Petersburg court chapel, and during his stay in the chapel (1895-1902 gg.) Mastered the profession of conductor, learned to play the piano, clarinet.

In May 1917 the composer was able to rid of the hated service in the royal army, and in the same year he became a teacher and head of the Kyiv Conservatory of Music and Drama State Vocal Ensemble.
After another concert tour Stepovy suddenly fell ill with typhus and in 1921 died in Kiev. He was buried at the cemetery Baikove. He is a representative of the Ukrainian intelligentsia music of the first quarter of the XX century, and one of the founders of the national school of composition and successor of the traditions of Mykola Lysenko. He was a Kyiv Conservatory teacher and founder of the State of vocal quartet, head of section in the Ukrainian national music committee of arts, music and educational activist, promoter of world classics in Ukraine. In 1921 the State Vocal Assembly was named after him. In 1969 a street in Kyiv was named after him.
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2016, 12:22:30 pm »

Fedyr Yakymenko (or Fyodor Akimenko) was the brother of Yakiv Stepovy.

Two of his recorded works are posted on youtube and are in the downloads section: Lyric Poem, and Angel poem-nocturne. I have "ripped" these and placed in the downloads section.

There is also a recording of his Nocturne for Strings on IMSLP (,_Theodore%29)

His Ukrainian wikipedia reads as follows (rough google-translation):

Fedyr Stepanovich Yakimenko (20 February 1876, Kharkiv - † 3 January 1945, Paris) - Ukrainian composer, pianist and teacher. Brother was Yakiv Stepovy.
Born in the village of Piski near Kharkov. 10-year old Yakimenko was selected for the court chapel in St. Petersburg. In 1886 - 1895. Studied piano with Russian pianist and composer M. Balakirev. 1900 graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory (composition class of Rimsky-Korsakov and A. Liadov). Since 1897 worked as a teacher of conducting courses in the court chapel. Later became director of music schools in Tiflis in the Caucasus (1901 - 1903 years.) And in Nice (France, 1903 - 1906).
After a short stay in Kharkiv, he became a professor of the music department of the Drahomanov Ukrainian Higher Pedagogical Institute in Prague. Among his students were Z. Lys'ko 3. M. Kolessa and others. In pedagogical work, Yakimenko performed as a concert-pianist and conductor of the choir. From this time came his "Practical Course in Harmony" (Prague, 1926). From 1928 he lived in France (Nice, Paris), where he died.
As a composer, Yakimenko - one of the prominent members of the current neo-romantic music of the twentieth century. with a noticeable influence of Impressionism. Prominent in his work takes instrumental music: two symphonies, symphonic poems, orchestral suite, overture, string trio Sonata for cello, Sonata for violin and numerous piano works (Sonata, Sonata-fantasy "Ukrainian Suite" Preludes, Etudes) . Some works Yakimenko built on melodies from Ukrainian folk songs. He was the author of numerous songs, Church works ( "Our Father", "Cherubim" and others.) And Ukrainian choral arrangements of folk songs. Many of Yakimenko’s works were published in German, French, Russian and Ukrainian publishing houses. Other works include the opera "Snow Fairy", a ballet (name unknown.) "Lyric Poem" for orchestra, several instrumental pieces, songs, quartet, trio, piano pieces on the theme of Ukrainian songs.
He is the author of a collection of songs for choir arrangements and a Ukrainian textbook on harmony.
Works of Fedyr Yakymenko showed influence of some contemporary modernistic direction.
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« Reply #5 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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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2016, 12:24:06 pm »

Kryzhanivsky, Bohdan Volodymyrovych (1894-1955)

Iosyp Sozansky and the Chernivtsi Regional Philharmonia have recorded a work by a composer who, as far as I can tell, has no other works recorded.

Danilo of Galicia is a rather large-scale work in the form of a cantata or oratorio - written for narrator, soloists, chorus and orchestra after a poem by Mykola Bazhan - it runs to approx 55 minutes. Don't be put off by the narrator (speaking in Ukrainian) - he does speak quite a bit at the beginning (with the music) but then for the most part he shuts up! The piece was written in 1942 but is definitely in a late-romantic style. You can hear it here -

Danilo of Galicia was, according to wikipedia, a King of Rus', Prince of Galicia (Halych) (1205–1255), Peremyshl (1211), and Volodymyr (1212–1231). He was crowned by a papal archbishop in Dorohochyn 1253 as the first King of Rus' (1253–1264).

Bohdan Kryzhanivsky's Ukrainian wikipdia is as follows (translated roughly from google):

Kryzhanivsky Bogdan Vladimirovich (August 24, 1894, Lviv - April 20, 1955, Chernivtsi) - Ukrainian conductor and composer.

Born August 24, 1894 in Lviv, a family lawyer. Lviv past childhood. Here he studied in high school, in his youth expressed a great enthusiasm for musical instruments (violin, cello, piano).

After graduating from the Lysenko Higher Music Institute in piano in 1916 he went to Vienna to continue training in music theory and composition at the Metropolitan Kaiser Academy of Music and Performing Arts. After the unexpected death of his father returned to his native city.

During the First World War (1916) joined the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen - joined the 1st Sich orchestras organized by Michael Gayvoronsky. I

In 1918, along with Leo and Basil Getsom Bobynsky signed a "Small Anthology of Creativity", the original of which was created on the model of handwritten old books, decorated with lots of illustrations and pictures. To introduce the Ukrainian edition to the broader public, they made a photo-reproduction. He participated in the activities of the new Ukrainian theater in Lviv, at this time, he met with Les Kurbas, Ambrose Buchma, Marian Krushelnytska and other prominent actors.

In 1920, as a result of the February pact concluded between the Ukrainian Galician Army and the Red Army, entered the ranks of the Red Ukrainian Galician Army. In the same year, he bacame one of the organizers of the Franko Ukrainian Drama Theater (in Vinnitsa, 1926, in Kyiv). He was in charge of the musical part of the Lviv Theater. Zankovetska was head and conductor of the Metropolitan Theater "Berezil." Later he worked in the Drama Kharkiv. In 1929 he became a founding member and principal conductor of the First Ukrainian State Musical Comedy Performances "Orpheus in Hell", "Queen of the unknown island", "Geisha," "self-styled Prince", "Chocolate Soldier or Man and weapons." Tashkent (1931-1932 chief conductor of the Opera theatre local), and finally - in Chernivtsi (since 1945).

The beginning of the 50's for the composer was a time of hardship. In World War II his only son Igor was killed. After writing the music to Mykola Bazhan's poem "Danilo of Galicia" in 1942, Kryzhanivsky was strongly persecuted. He was branded a nationalist and Petlurite. He was showered with anonymous denunciations, and betrayed by friends. But despite the circumstances and state of his health (tuberculosis) Kryzhanivsky launched extensive and fruitful activity as organizer of various art groups as director of music schools and teacher.

Bogdan Vladimirovich died April 20, 1955, and was buried at the central cemetery in Chernivtsi.

He wrote operettas, music for plays, vocal-symphonic poems and plays, songs and Sich propulsion arrangements. He wrote an opera, music to operetta "The Mikado" (co-author A. Cherry), several musical comedies ( "Because of the mountain of rock" and others), symphonies, songs, suite for piano and orchestra, dance tunes.

Selected works:

Music to plays:-
"Death Squadron" (play O.Korniychuka 1933)
"Bohdan Khmelnytsky" (play O.Korniychuka - premiered 10
March 1939 in Kiev Theater. Franko)

"Oleksa Dovbush" (1941)
"Danilo of Galicia" (1942)
"Nazar Stodolya"
"Bukovina kolomyiky"
"At the steppes of Ukraine" (O.Korniychuka play for the film which was shot in 1952)
"Lukyan mare" (G. historical drama Mizyuna 1954)

Birthday: August 24, 1894
Place of birth: Lviv
Date of death: April 20, 1955 (60 years old)
Place of death: Chernivtsi
Years active: 1916-1955
Country:  West Ukrainian People's Republic; Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Nationality: Ukrainian
Job: Conductor, composer
Higher education: (music)
Instruments: piano, violin, cello
Genre: symphonic music, marches
Organisations: Lviv Theatre. Zankovetska "Berezil" Kharkiv Academic Theatre of Musical Comedy and other
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2016, 05:32:15 pm »

I've posted up a complete recording of Viktor Kosenko's piano concerto, which he wrote in 1928.  A recording of the first movement of this piece was posted up here a few years ago I think (with Arthur Nikulin, and the Academic Symphonic Orchestra of Lviv Philharmonic Society under Dmytro Logvin) and quite a few people liked it as I recall, possibly as it's very Rachmaninovian. 

I have also posted up a concert recording of Kosenko's Dawn Poem (orchestrated by Levko Kolodub, a twentieth century Ukrainian composer).
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2016, 10:06:06 am »

As it happens, I stumbled upon Kosenko's piano concerto on Corentin Boissier's Youtube channel just the other day. What an amazingly OTT piece it is, especially the first movement. It must be extremely tiring for the soloist. I'm no judge of these things, but it sounds like it might be one of the hardest piano concerti around.

Well worth hearing!
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