Image - The Lviv National Music Academy. Image - The National Music Academy of Ukraine (formerly: Kyiv Conservatory). Image - The Odesa State Music Academy.

Conservatory (консерваторія; konservatoriia). A specialized institution of higher learning offering programs of study in music, particularly in composition and performance. The first conservatory appeared in Naples in 1589, operated by the Catholic Church, while the first modern secular conservatory was opened in Paris in 1784 (renamed into the Conservatoire National de Musique et d’Art Dramatique in 1795). In Ukraine, most existing conservatories were established in the twentieth century. However, according to some sources, the first conservatory (referred to as ‘music academy’) in the Russian Empire was founded by the Italian composer Giuseppe Sarti in 1787 in southern Ukraine (in Kremenchuk, then the capital of the Katerynoslav vicegerency). While there the composer was in the service of Prince Grigory Potemkin as a head of his domestic choir. Other sources contend that while Sarti indeed had an official title of director of Katerynoslav music academy, an institution proposed by Potemkin, it existed only on paper (as did most other public institutions and buildings in the city). Katerynoslav received its first music school only in 1898, which briefly had the status of a conservatory between 1919 and 1923. It was then reorganized as a tekhnikum of music and theater (at that time ranked as an institution of higher learning) and later as a music college (uchylyshche)—an institution of secondary special education. It was named after the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka in 1948. In 2006 it was again granted the status of a higher educational institution and renamed Dnipropetrovsk Conservatory. In 2016 it assumed its present name: Dnipropetrovsk Academy of Music.

The first continuously existing conservatory in Ukraine was opened in Lviv in 1853, founded by the Society for the Advancement of Music, as essentially a Polish cultural institution. Under Soviet rule in 1939 it merged with its Ukrainian counterpart—the Lysenko Higher Institute of Music (est. 1903)—and together they formed the Lviv State Conservatory (named after Mykola Lysenko in 1944). In 2007 it was renamed Lviv National Music Academy. Other conservatories on the territory of present-day Ukraine were opened in Kyiv (1913; now National Music Academy of Ukraine), Odesa (1913; now Odesa National Music Academy), Kharkiv (1917; see Kharkiv Conservatory), and Donetsk (1993; now Donetsk State Music Academy). In independent Ukraine five of these conservatories (in Lviv, Odesa, Kyiv, Donetsk and Dnipro) were reorganized into ‘music academies’ (three with the national institution of higher learning status), while Kharkiv Conservatory had merged with Kharkiv Theater Institute in 1963 and is currently known as Kharkiv National University of Arts. In addition, in 1998 Kyiv State Music College (uchylyshche) received the status of a higher educational institution, and in 2018 it was reorganized into Reinhold Glière Kyiv Municipal Academy of Music.

Compared to other institutions of higher learning in Ukraine, music academies have rather modest enrollments (the largest of them, the National Music Academy of Ukraine, has an enrollment of approximately 1,100 students). Four of the music academies mentioned above appeared on the list of ten best art institutions of higher learning in Ukraine in 2021 according to the educational web portal the National Music Academy of Ukraine was ranked fifth, followed by Lviv National Music Academy ranked seventh, Kharkiv National University of Arts ranked eighth, and Reinhold Glière Kyiv Municipal Academy of Music ranked tenth.

Serhiy Bilenky

[This article was written in 2021.]

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