Musicians' guilds

Musicians' guilds (музикантькі цехи or музичні братства; muzykantski tsekhy or muzychni bratstva). Professional associations of musicians existing in the larger cities of Ukraine in the 16th to 19th centuries. With the introduction of Magdeburg law in the 14th century, Ukrainian craftsmen and merchants began to organize themselves into guilds. The earliest-known Ukrainian musicians' guilds appeared in Kamianets-Podilskyi (1578) and Lviv (1580). In 1652 Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky organized all musicians of Left-Bank Ukraine into a regional guild with H. Illiashenko-Makushenko as guild master. Other musicians' guilds appeared in Poltava (1662), Kyiv (1677), Pryluky (1686), Starodub (1705), Nizhyn (1729), Chernihiv (1734), Kharkiv (1780), and other places. Guild members reserved the right to perform in towns, villages, market squares, and inns, at weddings, funerals, and other social occasions. In addition to providing services for their members and undertaking certain civic duties, they maintained equitable fee structures and offered musical training for young musicians. The most important guild was in Kyiv, which formed the Kyiv City Orchestra in the 17th century and provided the basis for the Kyiv Music School (1768). Competition from the growing numbers of city orchestras and serf instrumental ensembles and the overall decline of the guild system caused the musicians' guilds to disappear by the end of the 19th century.

Fil’ts, Bohdana. ‘Muzykants’ki tsekhy,’ in Istoriia ukraïns’koï muzyky, vol 1, ed Mykola Hordiichuk et al (Kyiv 1989)

Wasyl Sydorenko

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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