In the 1930s the Soviet regime established the concept of socialist realism as a norm for artistic activity in all areas of culture, including music. The result was a wholesale retreat from the modernist approach to music and composing that flourished in Ukraine in the 1920s. This ideological pressure eased somewhat only in the 1960s. The relaxation allowed for a whole group of young composers to use the newest means of musical expression. Many of these composers were students of Borys Liatoshynsky at the Kyiv Conservatory, as Liatoshynsky, together with Lev Revutsky, exerted a profound influence on the next generation of Ukrainian composers. In the early 1960s, some of Liatoshynsky's students, including Leonid Hrabovsky, Valentyn Sylvestrov, Vitalii Hodziatsky, Volodymyr Zahortsev, and Volodymyr Huba, became fascinated with modernist compositional techniques that were proscribed in the USSR. They formed a group that went by the name 'Kyiv Avant-Garde' and the appearance of this group created much interest abroad, especially in the United States, although in Kyiv their achievements did not reach beyond a narrow circle of listeners. Other young composers, such as Myroslav Skoryk, Lesia Dychko, and, among the younger generation, Yevhen Stankovych, Ivan Karabyts, and others have created original syntheses of the traditional with the modern and formed a loose group of composers known as 'the Neofolkloric Wave.' These two currents in the Ukrainian music of the 1960s, complemented by the work of other composers from various cities and representing different musical trends, created a remarkable revival of Ukrainian music in the second half of the 20th century... Learn more about the Ukrainian composers of the 1960s generation by visiting the following entries:


HRABOVSKY, LEONID, b 28 January 1935 in Kyiv. Composer. Hrabovsky studied composition first under Lev Revutsky and then under Borys Liatoshynsky at the Kyiv Conservatory (1954-59). He later taught at the conservatory in 1961-3 and 1966-8. Hrabovsky's compositional debut, Four Ukrainian Folk Songs for mixed chorus and symphony orchestra (1959), were awarded first prize at an all-Union music competition in 1962 and won high praise from Dimitri Shostakovich. Not interested in working within the officially sanctioned Soviet style of socialist realism, Hrabovsky initially composed in the dodecaphonist and aleatoric techniques. An avid student of classical and modernist theories of composition, he translated several Western music theory textbooks and quickly established a reputation as a innovative composer, associated with the 'Kyiv Avant-Garde.' As opposed to his colleague, Valentyn Sylvestrov, who worked with avant-garde techniques, but retained a characteristically lyrical expression, Hrabovsky became interested in serial music and composition methods based on mathematical algorithms. The most accomplished composition in this technique was his Concerto misterioso (1977), based on the melodic structures of Ukrainian folk songs and dedicated to the memory of the folk painter Kateryna Bilokur. Hrabovsky's music was harshly criticized in the Soviet press in the 1960s and 1970s and his works were hardly ever performed in Ukraine. He made a living by composing music to films produced at the Kyiv Artistic Film Studio. Eventually, Hrabovsky was forced to leave Kyiv for Moscow and in 1990 he emigrated to the United States...

Leonid Hrabovsky


SYLVESTROV, VALENTYN (Silvestrov, Valentin), b 30 September 1937 in Kyiv. Composer. He studied composition under Borys Liatoshynsky and counterpoint under Lev Revutsky at the Kyiv Conservatory (1958-64). Working in a modernist idiom, he quickly established a reputation as one of several innovative musicians of the 'Kyiv Avant-Garde.' In many of his works he adopted dodecaphonist and avant-garde techniques, at the same time retaining a characteristically lyrical expression. Sylvestrov's music was harshly criticized in the Soviet press in the 1960s and 1970s and he was temporarily excluded from the Composers Union of Ukraine. His works were hardly ever performed in Ukraine, but several successful performances in the Russian FSSR attracted attention of the music critics. Sylvestrov soon developed an international reputation, winning the International Koussevitsky Prize (USA, 1967) and the International Young Composers' Competition Gaudeamus (Holland, 1970). In the 1970s, with his cycle of art songs Tykhi pisni (Quiet Songs), Sylvestrov moved away from the conventional techniques of the Western avant-garde and developed a slow-moving, tonally-rooted musical language imbued with a deep sense of mysticism. He later developed a style, somewhat akin to Western post-modernism, which he termed 'metamusic' (short for 'metaphorical music'). In the 2000s, by then a world-renowned composer, Sylvestrov moved even further away from the Western avant-garde by composing cycles of tonally-based, melodic bagatellen for piano as well as liturgical music for choir a capella, closely linked to the tradition of Ukrainian church music...

Valentyn Sylvestrov (Silvestrov)


SKORYK, MYROSLAV, b 13 July 1938 in Lviv. Composer, conductor, and musicologist. His exceptional musical talent was recognized in his childhood by his great aunt, the famous opera singer Solomiia Krushelnytska, who encouraged Myroslav's parents to enrol him in a music school. However, his education was interrupted in 1947 when, during the wave of postwar Stalinist repressions, the Skoryk family was arrested by the Soviet authorities and exiled to Siberia. Skoryk was able to return to Lviv only in 1955. He graduated (1960) from the Lviv Conservatory in the classes of Adam Soltys, Stanyslav Liudkevych, and Roman Simovych and then completed graduate studies (1964) at the Moscow Conservatory in the composition class of Dmitri Kabalevsky. He subsequently lectured in composition at the Lviv Conservatory (1964-6) and the Kyiv Conservatory (1966-88), returning to Lviv in 1988. Since 1999 Skoryk has been professor of the history of Ukrainian music at the National Music Academy of Ukraine. In 2004–10 he was co-head (with Yevhen Stankovych) of the National Union of Composers of Ukraine. He was awarded the Shevchenko Prize in 1987. One of the most notable contemporary Ukrainian composers, Skoryk has written two ballets, the opera Moses (2001, based on the poem by Ivan Franko), Hutsul Triptych (1965, based on his film score to Serhii Paradzhanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors), Carpathian Concerto (1972), the symphonic work 1933, and the Penitential Psalm (2015) in honour of the "Heavenly Hundred." He has also written 9 concertos for violin, 3 concertos for piano, 2 concertos for violoncello, and one concerto for viola; chamber music; and film scores. Deeply inspired by Ukrainian musical folklore, in the 1960s Skoryk was the leader of a group of composers known as 'the Neofolkloric Wave'...

Myroslav Skoryk


STANKOVYCH, YEVHEN, b 19 September 1942 in Svaliava, Berehove county, Transcarpathia. Composer. He studied at the Lviv Conservatory under Adam Soltys before transferring to the Kyiv Conservatory where he studied under Borys Liatoshynsky and Myroslav Skoryk and graduated in composition in 1970. He worked as an editor at the Muzychna Ukraina publishing house in 1970–6. He was awarded the Shevchenko Prize in 1977. He has worked as professor at the Kyiv Conservatory (now National Music Academy of Ukraine) since 1988. In 2004-10 he was co-head (with Myroslav Skoryk) of the National Union of Composers of Ukraine. One of the most prolific contemporary Ukrainian composers, Stankovych has written six symphonies and several symphonic works, including Overture, Fantasia, two sinfoniettas, and a symphonic poem dedicated to Stepan Turchak; three violin concertos as well as concertos for violoncello and orchestra, viola and orchestra, and flute and orchestra; eight symphonies for chamber orchestra. He has composed the triptych In the Highlands for violin and pianoforte, three sonatas for violoncello and piano, a string quartet, and numerous other works of chamber music. Deeply inspired by Ukrainian musical folklore, in the 1960s Stankovych belonged to a group of composers known as 'the Neofolkloric Wave.' His neofolkloric idiom found its most eloquent expression in his folk opera Tsvit paporoti (The Flower, Fern, 1980). He has also composed three ballets, the requiem Babyn Yar (1991), and Slovo o polku Ihorevim for soloists, choir and symphony orchestra; pieces for solo voice and for choir; church music; and film scores...

Yevhen Stankovych


DYCHKO, LESIA (Ljudmyla), b 24 October 1939 in Kyiv. Composer. In 1964 Dychko graduated from the Kyiv Conservatory where she studied under Kostiantyn Dankevych and Borys Liatoshynsky. One of the leading Ukrainian composers of choir music, she was awarded the Shevchenko Prize in 1989. She has taught at the Kyiv Conservatory (now National Music Academy of Ukraine) since 1994 and became professor in 2009. Her works include two operas, two oratorios, four ballets; works for orchestra and chorus, most notably the symphony Pryvitannia zhyttia (Welcoming Life) for soprano, bass, and chamber orchestra, based on the words of the imagist poet Bohdan Ihor Antonych, and Viter revoliutsii (Wind of the Revolution) based on the poems of Maksym Rylsky and Pavlo Tychyna; numerous cantatas to the words of Taras Shevchenko, Mykola Vinhranovsky, and other poets; choir concertos and two choir poems: Holod – 33 (Famine 1933; based on the words of S. Kolomiiets) and Lebedi materynstva (The Swans of Motherhood; based on the poems by Vasyl Symonenko); music for piano; and film scores. Dychko was one of the first Ukrainian composers in Soviet Ukraine of the 1980s to begin composing church music and she has composed three liturgies...

Lesia Dychko


KARABYTS, IVAN, b 17 January 1945 in Yalta, Pershotravneve raion, Donetsk oblast, d 20 January 2002 in Kyiv. Composer and conductor. A graduate of the Kyiv Conservatory (1971) and a student of Borys Liatoshynsky and Myroslav Skoryk, he conducted the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Kyiv Military District (1968-74), taught at the Kyiv Conservatory, and then served as artistic director of the Kyiv Camerata (Kyivska kamerata). From 1989 to 2001 he was artistic director of the Kyiv Music Fest international music festival. His compositions include a cycle of 24 preludes for piano, a piano trio, 3 concertos for orchestra, 3 art song cycles for voice and piano (including Pastels to the words of Pavlo Tychyna), the oratorio Charming the Fire, the opera-oratorio Kyiv Frescoes, a cantata based on Hryhorii Skovoroda's poem collection Sad bozhestvennykh pisen' (The Garden of Divine Songs), and several film scores...

Ivan Karabyts

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