20th Century (Soviet)


The published work of the following composers derives overwhelmingly from the Soviet era. While there are some who composed before the advent of Soviet power, their pre-Soviet works were either preparatory to larger compositions or else revised at least once during the period of the USSR.

Levko Revutsky

Levko Revutsky

Levko Revutsky

Levko Mykolayovych Revutsky (1889-1977), born in the Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire (in the Chernihiv Region of present-day Ukraine), began learning the piano at age 5. As a young teen he entered the Val’ker Gymnasium (secondary school) in Kyiv and studied piano with Mykola Lysenko. Although his formal university studies were in mathematics, physics and law, he continued to study music. He entered the Kyiv Conservatory in his early twenties’ and began to visit Reinhold Glière’s composition classes. He graduated from both the conservatory and the law faculty of Kyiv University in 1916, and went off to fight in WWI.

Revutsky with wife, Sofia, in 1916

Revutsky with wife, Sofia, in 1916

After the war, Revutsky settled in a small town in the Chernihiv district for six years before he was invited to teach at the Lysenko Institute of Music and Drama. His first major achievements as a composer were in the 1930s, and he received the awards of People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR in 1942 and the People’s Artist of the USSR in 1944. He headed the Composers’ Union of Ukraine from 1944-48 and became a member of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet (republic legislature). On his 80th birthday in 1969, he was made a Hero of Socialist Labor.

Levko Revutsky Memorial in central Kyiv

Levko Revutsky Memorial in central Kyiv

Revutsky developed the methods of Lysenko and Leontovych, incorporating traditional Ukrainian folk melodies and traditions into modern music. His Symphony No. 2 in E Major, Op. 12 (1926-27; revised in 1940 and 1970) and Piano Concerto in F Major (1934) are considered classics of Ukrainian music. He is widely considered to have made a considerable contribution to the development of genre folk songs arrangements in Ukraine.

Symphony No. 2 – 1st Movement.

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Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major (1934)

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Pylyp Kozytsky

Pylyp Kozytsky

Pylyp Kozytsky

Pylyp Omelyanovych Kozytsky (1893-1960) graduated from the Kyiv Theological Seminary (1917) and the Kyiv Conservatory (1920), where he studied under Reinhold Glière. He taught at the Lysenko Music and Drama Institute in Kyiv (1918-24), the Kharkiv Music and Drama Institute (1925-35) and the Kyiv Conservatory. One of the creators of the new style of Ukrainian choral church music, he was an organizers of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the early 1920s.

Kozytsky (far right) with fellow composers (from left) Antin Rudnytsky, Vasyl Barvinsky and Stanyslav Lyudkevych

Kozytsky (far right) with fellow composers (from left) Antin Rudnytsky, Vasyl Barvinsky and Stanyslav Lyudkevych

Kozytsky is associated with the national school of Ukrainian classical music established by Mykola Lysenko, and he drew on social and patriotic themes in his own work. He established a network of music schools throughout Ukraine and is viewed as a pivotal figure in developing a Ukrainian musical style in the 20th century. He produced string quartets, preludes for piano, choral works, church music and folk songs. Some of his more famous works include the orchestral suite Kozak Holota (1925), the symphonic poem Partisan’s Daughter (1938), and the symphony For the Fatherland (1941).

Prelude No. 1

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Prelude No. 7

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Konstyantyn Dankevych

Kostiantyn Dankeyvch

Kostiantyn Dankeyvch

Konstyantyn Fedorovych Dankevych (1905-1984) graduated from the Odessa Music and Drama Institute and studied under Mykola Vilinsky. During WWII he was evacuated to Tbilisi, Georgia, where he led the Song and Dance Ensemble of the NKVD of the Caucasus. After returning to Soviet Ukraine in WWII, Dankevych served as rector of the Odessa Conservatory (1944-51), becoming a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1946.

Dankevych plaque in central Kyiv

Dankevych plaque in central Kyiv

His compositions included operas, ballets, chamber music, choral works, theatrical music and movie themes. His 1951 opera Bohdan Khmelnytsky was criticized on political grounds but gained some acceptance in Russia after he revised it.

From 1953, Dankevych was a professor of the Kyiv Conservatory. He was elected to the USSR Supreme Soviet and served as a member from 1955-67, during which time he was also chairman of the Union of Composers of Ukraine. Among his Soviet awards were the Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1954), Order of Lenin (1960) and the Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian SSR State Prize (1978).

Overture and Opening Chorus from Nazar Stodolia (1960)

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Bohdan’s Aria from the opera Bohdan Khmelnytsky (1951)

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Yuliy Meitus

Yuliy Meitus

Yuliy Meitus

Yuliy Serhiyovych Meytus (1903-1997) was born into a Jewish family in Yelizavetgrad (today’s Kirovograd, Ukraine) and is considered by many to be the ‘father’ of Ukrainian Soviet opera. He graduated from music school as a student of the piano in the class of Heinrich Neuhaus in 1919 before serving in the First Cavalry Army of Gen. Semyon Budyonny with the Reds in the Russian Civil War.

Commemorative plaque on Meitus' home in Kyiv

Commemorative plaque on Meitus’ home in Kyiv

A pianist for the political department who organized concerts for the Red Army, Meitus graduated from the Kharkiv Institute of Music and Drama in 1931 as a student in the composition class of S. S. Bohatyrova.

During WWII, Meitus was in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) and Irkutsk (Siberia) and helped to create a Turkmen national opera, for which he was awarded the title of Honored Artist of the Turkmen SSR (1944), and staged his opera Haydamaky in Irkutsk. In 1944 he arrived in the capital of Ukraine, where he became an Honored Artist of the Ukrainian SSR (1948), a People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR (1973), and a USSR State Prize laureate for the opera ‘Young Guard’ (1951). In 1999, a street in Kyiv was named in his honor.

 

Red Chamomile

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‘Aria of Ganna’ from the opera Stolen Happiness (1960)

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Heorhiy Maiboroda

Heorhiy Maiboroda

Heorhiy Maiboroda

Heorhiy Illarionovych Maiboroda (1913-1992) was born on a farm in the Pelehivschyni Kremenchug province of the Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire to a peasant family. In 1932 he graduated from Kremenchug Industrial Technical College and went on to Dneprostroy (Soviet state construction enterprise), where for several years he participated in musical performances, singing in the ‘Dneprostroy’ chorus. In 1936 he graduated from the Kyiv Music Academy.

In 1941 from the Kyiv Conservatory in the composition class of Levko Revutsky. He fought at the front during WWII, and from 1945-1949 studied at the graduate level in the Kyiv Conservatory under the direction of Lev Revutsky. In the years 1952-1958 he taught at the Kiev Conservatory of Music and theoretical subjects. In the years 1962-1967 he served as Secretary of the Union of Composers of USSR, then chairman in 1967-1969. He became a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet for the 7th, 8th and 9th convocations (1967-1980).

Maiboroda worked in various genres and his music was heavily influenced by heroic and patriotic themes. Significant among the writers influencing his work were Taras Shevchenko and Ivan Franko.

Hutsul Rhapsody (1949; revised in 1952)

King Lear Suite (1959)

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Dmytro Klebanov

Dmytro Klebanov

Dmytro Klebanov

Dmytro Lvovych Klebanov (1907-1987) graduated from the Kharkiv Music and Drama Institute in 1926 and taught as a professor of composition at the Kharkiv Conservatory. In the late 1930s and early 1940s a couple of ballets, a violin concerto, and a symphony received major performances in Moscow and Kyiv, but Stalinist critics branded his first symphony, In Memoriam to the Martyrs of Babi Yar (1945), anti-patriotic and banned performances. Klebanov was relieved of his duties as chairman of the Kharkiv Composers’ Union – effectively preventing him from engaging in any professional activity – and was never rehabilitated politically prior to his death. In 1990, forty-five years after it was finished, Klebanov’s 1st Symphony premiered in Kyiv.

Klebanov was reputedly a prolific composer who composed in many genres. Much of his work is said to have been destroyed by fire and flood as the Soviet Union was collapsing.

Symphony No. 1: ‘Babi Yar’ (1st Movement) (1945)

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Suite No. 1 for Chamber Orchestra – 2nd Part (1971)

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Platon Maiboroda

Platon Maiboroda

Platon Maiboroda

The brother of Heorhiy Maiboroda (above), Platon Illiaronovych Maiboroda (1918-1989) became accustomed in childhood to playing folk instruments. On the recommendation of Levko Revutsky (above) he was accepted to the Kyiv Music Academy (now the Kyiv Institute of Music named for Reinhold Gliere), which he finished in two years (1936-38). In 1938 he enrolled at the Piotr Tchaikovsky Kyiv Conservatory (now the Piotr Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine), which he finished in 1947 (in the composition class of Levko Revutsky). Apart from his curricular assignments, he seriously studied Ukrainian folk songs, attended lecturies in Ukrainian folklore at the Institute of Ukrainian Folklore of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (now the M. T. Rylsky Institute of Art Studies, Folklore and Ethnology), participating in annual folklore expeditions.

He fought in WWII, and from summer 1941 together with his brother, Heorhiy, was captured by the Germans, escaped and worked in a factory. Liberated by the Soviet Army on 28 January 1945, he fought again, and in 1945 led the Military Song and Dance Ensemble in Vienna, Austria, from which he returned to Kyiv to complete his musical education. In 1947-49 he taught theoretical disciplines in the Kyiv Music Academy. He composed choral works and songs (more than 200), symphonic productions, musicals for the stage and film scores. From 1947 he was a member of the Composers’ Union of Ukraine. He was the recipient of numerous state prizes and awards, including the Stalin Prize – 3rd Degree (1950), Order of Lenin (1960), Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian SSR State Prize (1962), People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR (1968), People’s Artist of the USSR (1979) and Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1982).

Kyiv Waltz (1956)

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The Poplar (1966)

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Ihor Shamo

Ihor Shamo

Ihor Shamo

Ihor Naumovych Shamo (1925-1982) graduated from the Kyiv Conservatory in 1941, having studied in the composition class of Yan Frankel. At the beginning of WWII in Ukraine (1941) he was evacuated to Ufa (Bashkortostan in Soviet Russia) and enrolled in medical school. In May 1942 he volunteered to go the front and participated in battles in Voronezh on the 1st Ukrainian Front. He worked his way from Stalingrad to Berlin as a military paramedic, was injured, and greeted victory in the war as a lieutenant in the medical service.

Memorial plaque on Ihor Shamo's apartment building in Kyiv

Memorial plaque on Ihor Shamo’s apartment building in Kyiv

In 1946 he enrolled in the Piotr Tchaikovsky Kyiv State Conservatory, studying composition in the class of Levko Revutsky and Borys Lyatoshynksy, and gaining acceptance to the Composers’ Union of Ukraine while still a student in 1948. He graduated in 1951 and went on to compose over three hundred songs including the anthem of Kyiv, My Kyiv. He wrote orchestral works (3 symphonies), quartets and choral works to the verse of Ivan Franko, diverse chamber works to the verse of Robert Burns and Andriy Malyshko, ten romances to the verse of Taras Shevchenko, piano music, cantatas and many other pieces. Shamo is the author of musical scores for more than 40 films and more than 40 stage musicals. Thematically, WWII occupies a special place in his body of work. He was made a People’s Artist of the USSR in 1975.

Summer Evening / Prelude No. 8 (Quasi Campana) / Prelude No. 9

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My Kyiv (1962)

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Dnipro Waltz

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