MYKOLA LYSENKO (1842–1912)
Mykola Lysenko is the father of modern Ukrainian classical music. His prolific life’s work laid the foundation for the further development and expansion of Ukrainian musical culture. He influenced a large group of Ukrainian composers, including Stetsenko, Stepovyi, Leontovych, Koshyts, and Liudkevych. A compilation of Lysenko’s works in 22 volumes was published in Kyiv in 1950–59.
Lysenko was a composer, ethnomusicologist, pianist, and conductor. He studied at the Kharkiv and Kyiv universities and, later, at the Leipzig Conservatory under Reinicke and Richter (1867–69). From 1874 to 1876 he studied orchestration under Rimsky-Korsakov in St. Petersburg. In 1904, he founded his own School of Music and Drama in Kyiv.
The list of Lysenko’s operatic compositions include Black Sea Cossacks (1872); three operas based on the works of the Ukrainian writer Mykola Hohol – Christmas Night (1873–82),
The Drowned Maiden (1883) and Taras Bulba (1890); and the operettas Natalka from Poltava (1889) and Aeneas (1911). Himself a well-known pianist, Lysenko composed a piano sonata, two rhapsodies, a suite, a scherzo and a rondo, as well as an abundance of smaller pieces, including songs without words, nocturnes, waltzes and polonaises. He also wrote a number of works for strings. Of the Ukrainian composers, Lysenko was the most committed to the art song genre. Lysenko’s 133 art songs (lirychni pisni in Ukrainian) relate a wonderfully descriptive and passionate story of 19th- and early 20th-century European life.