Ukrainian Republican Kapelle

Image - The Ukrainian National Choir (Argentina June 1923). Image - The Ukrainian National Choir (Belgium March 1921). Image - Over 32,000 spectators of the Ukrainian National Choir concert in Mexico City on 26 December 1922. Image - The Ukrainian Republican Kapelle (Czechoslovakia April 1919),

Ukrainian Republican Kapelle (Ukrainska respublikanska kapelia). A state choir founded in Kyiv in early 1919 by Kyrylo Stetsenko and Oleksander Koshyts. The group had been commissioned by Symon Petliura and charged with the task of propagating Ukrainian musical culture abroad. The kapelle, directed and conducted by Koshyts, consisted of 80 members in a mixed choir. In February 1919 it embarked on a major European concert tour through Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, England, and Germany. When disbanded in Berlin in July 1920, its members formed three separate choirs. The core group, led by Koshyts, was reconstituted in Warsaw as the Ukrainian National Choir. Late in 1921 it began a tour of Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, and the United States, where from October 1922 to March 1923 it performed in more than 100 concerts. A tour of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Cuba followed. In 1924 the Ukrainian National Choir disbanded, after having staged approx 900 concerts.

The kapelle and its successors had a significant impact in raising in the West an awareness of Ukrainian music and musical life. They also provided a training ground for many individuals who were later active in Ukrainian civic cultural societies. The most popular pieces in the repertoire of the kapelle were works by Mykola Leontovych (particularly ‘Shchedryk,’ later known as the ‘Carol of the Bells’), Mykola Lysenko, Kyrylo Stetsenko, and Oleksander Koshyts.

Nejedlý, Z. Ukrajinská republikanská kapela (Prague 1921)
Ukraïns’ka pisnia za kordonom (Paris 1929)
Pelens’kyi, O. Ukraïns’ka pisnia v sviti (Lviv 1933)
Koshyts’, O. Z pisneiu cherez svit, 3 parts (Winnipeg, 1952, 1970, 1974)

Wasyl Wytwycky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

Image - The Ukrainian Republican Kapelle (Galicia April 1919). Image - The Ukrainian National Choir (Spain January 1921). Image - The Ukrainian Republican Kapelle with Oleksander Koshyts in Switzerland.

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