Kyrylo Stetsenko (1882 - 1922)
Joy and sorrow embrace the art songs of Kyrylo Stetsenko. Tsarist repression, revolution, censorship, exile and war are their companions. Only a free spirit like Stetsenko could survive the times and create songs of unsurpassed beauty, inner strength and delicate intimacy. The songs display a stunning array of changing emotions-from impassioned patriotism, bitter irony and cruel disappointment to hopeful yearning, ardent love and peaceful reflection.
There are moments of epic timelessness, mystic invocation, heroic struggle and domestic bliss. These are songs that express Ukraine's poetic soul through the universal language of music. Kyrylo Stetsenko was born in central Ukraine. His father was a painter of icons and his maternal uncle was an Orthodox priest. At age 10, Kyrylo was taken by his uncle to Kyiv to study art. There, he enrolled at Saint Sophia's Church School and later at the Seminary. In school Kyrylo studied the masters of Ukrainian church music Dmytro Bortniansky, Maksym Berezovsky, Artem Vedel, and others. He also met Mykola Lysenko, the most important Ukrainian composer of the time, and participated in several ethnomusicological expeditions. Completing his studies in 1903, Stetsenko chose not to become a priest. Instead, he began working as a music teacher, music critic, church conductor and composer.