Mykola Dyletskii (circa 1630-1680) was a Ukrainian composer and music theorist considered to be one of the most influential figures in developing early Ukrainian classical music.
Diletsky is best known for his treatise “Grammatika musikiyskogo peniya” (“Grammar of Musical Singing”), which was published in 1677. This work is considered one of the most influential treatises on music theory in early Ukrainian and Russian baroque music.
Diletsky also composed sacred choral music and instrumental pieces. Many of his compositions reflect the influence of Italian Baroque music.
Hryhorii Skovoroda (1722-1794) is best known as a writer and philosopher, but he was also a composer and songwriter.
Skovoroda was born in Ukraine and received a classical education in Kyiv and Moscow. He spent a lot of time in Europe, where he studied philosophy and theology.
Skovoroda was also a gifted poet and musician. He wrote hymns and secular songs, which reflect his deeply spiritual and philosophical beliefs. His music is characterized by its simple, folk-like melodies and harmonies, which reflected his interest in Ukrainian traditional music.
Dmytro Bortnianskii (1751-1825) was a Ukrainian composer of the classical era. He was a member of the Imperial Chapel Choir and eventually rose to the director position. Dmytro Bortnianskii’s style was marked by a strong sense of melody and harmony, and he was known for using choral and instrumental textures in his works.
His most famous works include many liturgical pieces, including many settings of the Orthodox liturgy. Bortnianskii was also known for his operas and instrumental music, including his symphonies and chamber music.
Semen Hulak-Artemovskii (1813-1873) was a Ukrainian composer of the Romantic era who is best known for his contributions to Ukrainian national music. He was deeply influenced by the folk music of Ukraine, and his compositions often incorporated elements of this music.
He is known mainly for his operas “Zaporozhets za Dunayem” (A Zaporozhian Cossack Beyond the Danube), “The Ukrainian Wedding”, and “Ivana Kupala Eve”, as well as his dramatic talent and his powerful, rich baritone voice. His style was distinguished by a unique harmonization of folk melodies, frequently accompanied by rich choral arrangements.
Mykhailo Verbytsky (1815-1870) was a Ukrainian composer, choir conductor, and music teacher best known for his contributions to Ukrainian church music and the music for the National Anthem of Ukraine.
Verbytsky wrote 12 symphonies, which are also called “overtures.” He composed “Zapovit” (Testament, 1868), a setting of Shevchenko’s poem for bass solo, double choir, and orchestra, and numerous sacred and secularchoral works and songs.
However, he is best known as the composer of the Ukrainian national anthem, “Shche ne vmerla Ukraina” (Ukraine has not Perished), which in 1917 was adopted by the new Ukrainian republican government.
Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912) was a composer, ethnomusicologist, conductor, pianist, and teacher. He was born in Hrynky, Poltava gubernia, in a family of Cossack origin.
Lysenko’s musical compositions were diverse and numerous. Among his operatic works are the singspiel “Chornomortsi” (Black Sea Cossacks, 1872), the operetta “Natalka from Poltava” (1889), and others.
Overall, Lysenko wrote over 120 art songs, including many vocal solos with piano accompaniment. He also arranged approximately 500 folk songs, including solos and choruses with piano and a cappella accompaniment.
Listen to the overture to the opera “Taras Bulba”:
Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921) was a composer, conductor, and teacher born in Markivka, Podilia gubernia.
Leontovych’s musical heritage consists primarily of more than 150 choral compositions inspired by the texts and melodies of Ukrainian folk songs. His earlier works were mostly strophic arrangementsof folk songs, although later, he developed a strophic-variational form closely related to the text. A group of his compositions, including “Shchedryk” (Epiphany Carol), “Dudaryk” (The Duda Player), and “Hra v Zaichyka” (Playing Rabbit), depart from the simple settings of folk songs and constitute his most original and artistic compositions.
The composer’s “Shchedryk” is better known as “The Carol of the Bells” in its English version, authored and premiered in 1936 by conductor Wilhousky.
Borys Liatoshynskii (1895-1968) was a prominent Ukrainian composer of the 20th century. Liatoshynskii’s compositions are characterized by intense emotional expression, complex harmonic language, and dramatic symphonic structures.
Borys Liatoshynskii’s most famous works include Symphony No. 3, a reflection on the struggles and hardships of the Ukrainian people during World War II; Symphony No. 5, “Grazhyna,” based on a poem by the Polish writer Adam Mickiewicz, and others.
Enjoy the part of the choir chapel, “Flowing water into the blue sea,” with music by Borys Lyatoshynskyi and lyrics by Taras Shevchenko:
Stefania Turkevych (1898-1977) was a Ukrainian composer and pianist who is regarded as the country’s first female composer. Her compositions include solo piano pieces as well as large-scale orchestral works.
Turkevych became the first woman from Galicia (then part of Poland) to earn a PhD. Her works are generally written in a moderate modernist style, incorporating elements of neoclassicism, neoromanticism, expressionism, and, on occasion, serialism.
Turkevych’s most famous works include her Symphony No. 1, the ballet “The Girl with the Withered Hands,” the children’s opera “Tsar Okh or the Heart of Oksana,” and others.
Listen to “The Girl with the Withered Hands,” an incredible ballet:
Myroslav Skoryk (1938-2020) is a composer, conductor, and musicologist.
One of the most notable contemporary Ukrainian composers, Skoryk has written the opera “Moses” (2001, based on the poem by Ivan Franko), the symphonic poem “Stronger than Death” (1963), “The Hutsul Triptych” (1965, based on his film score to Serhii Paradzhanov’s “Tini zabutykh predkiv” (“Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”), and many others.
His music is contemporary and incorporates various artistic traditions, including German, Welsh, English, and Eastern European.
Volodymyr Ivasiuk (1949-1979) was a Ukrainian songwriter, composer, and poet. He is the author and composer of the widely popular song “Chervona Ruta” (The Red Rue), popularized by Sofia Rotaru in 1971 and later covered by other singers.
He became an overnight national sensation in the Soviet Union after a public performance in 1970 of his compositions “Chervona Ruta” and “Vodohray” with Olena Kuznetsova. In 1971, the “Chervona Ruta” composition won the Best Song of the Year award of the Soviet Union. His composition “Vodohray” won the best song award the next year as well.
Ivasiuk died at the age of 30 under unknown circumstances. He was found hanged in the forest near Lviv. His rapturous death has remained a mystery for many years.