Koshyts, Oleksander

Image - Oleksander Koshyts Image - Oleksander Koshyts Image - Oleksander Koshyts (1926 photo). Image - The Ukrainian National Choir (Belgium March 1921). Image - The Ukrainian Republican Kapelle (Czechoslovakia April 1919),

Koshyts, Oleksander [Košyč] (Koshetz, Alexander), b 14 September 1875 in Romashky, Kaniv county, Kyiv gubernia, d 21 September 1944 in Winnipeg. (Photo: Oleksander Koshyts.) Composer, choirmaster, and ethnographer. A graduate of the Kyiv Theological Academy (1901), he studied composition with Hryhorii Liubomyrsky at the Lysenko Music and Drama School (1908–10), where he also served as assistant choirmaster. During that period he conducted the Boian choir, organized two student choirs (one consisting of students from Kyiv University, the other of students of the Higher Courses for Women), taught choral classes at the Kyiv Conservatory, conducted the orchestra of Sadovsky's Theater (1912–16), and served as conductor and choirmaster of the Kyiv Russian Opera (1916–17). He collected Ukrainian folk songs in the Kyiv region (1893–1900) and in the Kuban (summers of 1903, 1904, and 1905).

In 1918 Koshyts co-founded the Ukrainian Republican Kapelle (reorganized in 1920 into the Ukrainian National Choir), which for seven years toured Europe and the Americas extensively to win public support for the Ukrainian National Republic. A multilingual collection of reviews of Ukrainian National Choir performances from this period was printed in Paris in 1929 as Ukraïns’ka pisnia za kordonom (Ukrainian Song Abroad).

In 1926 he settled in New York, where he taught choir conducting. From 1941 to 1944 he spent his summer months in Winnipeg teaching choral music and choir directing courses organized by the Ukrainian National Federation.

A leading popularizer of Ukrainian folk songs and liturgical music, Koshyts composed five liturgies, arranged numerous folk songs, and published a number of collections and musical studies. His memoirs were published in 1947–8 in two volumes and then reprinted in 1995. His papers (along with an extensive photograph collection) are housed at the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre (Oseredok) in Winnipeg. The Ukrainian National Federation Choir in Winnipeg was renamed the Olexander Koshetz Choir in his honor in 1967.

Koshyts’, Oleksander. Z pisneiu cherez svit, 3 vols (Winnipeg, 1952–74)
Shcherbakivs’kyi, V. Zhyttia I diial’nist’ Oleksandra Antonovych Koshytsia (London 1955)
Antonovych, Myroslav [Antonowycz, Myroslaw], Koshyts’, kompozytor tserkovnoï muzyky I dyrygent (Winnipeg, 1975)
Holovashchenko, Mykhailo. Fenomen Oleksandra Koshytsia (Kyiv 2007)

[This article was updated in 2009.]

Image - Oleksander Koshyts with Mexican composers M. de Pons and Ledro de Tejada in Mexico City, 1922. Image - Oleksander Koshyts' choral music and choir directing courses, Winnipeg 1941.

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