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Mykola Lysenko

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Mykola Lysenko

Mykola Lysenko is a founder of the national Ukrainian classical music who has generalized the achievements of the long previous period of development of our inherent musical culture and he brought it up to the world level.
The future composer was born on March 22, 1842, in Poltava region in a nobiliary family stemming from ancient stock of Cossack superiors. In 1865 on graduating Kyiv University Lysenko upheld his thesis receiving a degree of a Candidate of Natural Sciences, but having studied music from his early days he decided to devote all his life to it. From these days on he began his work which mainly consisted of collecting and elaborating on Ukrainian national songs as well as of composing the music for the greatest literary work of the Ukraine "Kobzar" by Shevchenko.

Lysenko got his professional music education in Leipzig Conservatory (1867-69) in the class of such well-known teachers as Moscheles, Reinecke, Wenzel and Richter, and after that he increased his professional level in Petersburg Conservatory (1874-76) in the class of the world famous Rimsky-Kor-sakov. Along with this Lysenko wrote music, gave concerts as a pianist and a conductor. During those days he wrote a great number of sizeable works such as suites, quartets, trios, concert waltzes, polonaises, sonatas and his First piano Rhapsody. Upon completing his training he came back to Kyiv to continue his intense creative teaching, performing and social activities.
Together with his cousin Michael Starytsky they headed a circle of Kyiv cultural workers and obtained the necessary sanctions to carry out public performances of the Ukrainian plays. So they became founders of the Ukrainian musical theatre, which staged the created by Lysenko "Chornomortzi", "Christmas Night", "Natalka Poltavka" that later underwent further elaborations and were supplemented with scores of other operas (such as "Drowned Woman", "Eneida", children's operas "Koza Dereza", "Pan Kotzky" and many others). In 1880 Lysenko started writing his most outstanding work a monumental-heroic opera "Taras Bul"ba" (the libretto by Starytsky for the adapted story by Gogol), which was completed only ten years afterwards.

In the same time Lysenko worked in many other genres, in particular, in 1880 there appeared a Heroic Scherzo for the piano. In the 90-ies Mykola Lysenko organized his well-known "choral travels" all across the Ukraine.

In 1903 the 35th anniversary of M. Lysenko's creative work was widely celebrated in Ukraine. M. Lysenko's friends organized a whip-rpund for Lysenko to be able to edit his works and to buy a house for him and his 5 children (whom at that time Lysenko had to raise by himself, as his wife had died).

But Lysenko used these funds to found a Music Drama school, which started its work in the autumn of 1904 and turned into the first Ukrainian educational institution which provided its students with a higher music education along the lines of the program for conservatories.
During 1904-1912 in the last years of his life the composer wrote such works as opera "Sapfo" (drama scenes from the life of ancient Greece), an opera "Nocturne", a cantata "To the 50th Anniversary of T. Shevchenko's Passing", romances and many others. Those days his activity concentrated around the genre of spiritual choral singing. Such works as "Cherubs" Song", "Where I Go Away from Your Face Oh, My God", were to become real masterpieces and a samples for other composers. A "Prayer for the Ukraine" had been gradually accumulated its value as a spiritual hymn of the Ukraine.
On November 6, 1912, Mykola Lysenko expired still full of creative plans and uncompleted works.

Mykhailo Hrushevsky   Taras Shevchenko