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Six works that celebrate Ukraine's distinctive musical heritage

Ensemble of children to adults holding banduras, a stringed instrument similar to a guitar
Oksana Rodak
The Association of American Youth of Ukrainian Descent (known by the Ukrainian-based acronym ODUM) 2018 Band Camp concert

Jeffrey Yelverton, Digital Producer for Classical music at Minnesota Public Radio’s Your Classical created this article on February 24, 2022 in recognition of the musical heritage of Ukraine. We liked it so much, we asked if we could recreate it here for you. Or visit Your Classical to read the original version of the story.

As Russia invades Ukraine, our hearts and minds are with the Ukrainian people and their rich national and cultural history. Here are six works to celebrate their musical heritage, providing comfort in these difficult times.

Maxim Berezovsky: Symphony in C 

Maxim Berezovsky was born in Hlukhiv during the Russian Empire. Today, that city lies within the Ukrainian border. His compositions have been disputed by music scholars because both Russia and Ukraine lay claim to him. His Symphony in C, composed in 1772, is considered the first Russian and Ukrainian symphony.
Mykola Lysenko: Second Piano Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes (Dumka-shumka)

Composer Mykola Lysenko founded Ukraine’s national school of composers. He was one of the first musicologists to study music of his home country outside of the larger Russian musical sphere.
Reinhold Glière: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra 

Reinhold Glière is probably the most well-known composer from Ukraine. Because of the long and complicated history of Ukraine’s association with Russia before the 1991 Ukrainian independence referendum, Glière is usually considered Russian. This highlights the interwoven cultural similarities between the two largest Slavic nations.
Stefania Turkewich: The Spider 

Recognized as Ukraine’s first woman composer, Stefania Turkewich (1898-1977) composed many vocal works that highlight life in Ukraine. Her music was banned in Ukraine when it was under Soviet leadership. Since 1991, her works have begun to resurface.
Valentyn Silvestrov: The Messenger 

Known for blending Ukrainian nationalism with post-modern and neoclassical style, Valentyn Silvestrov, born in 1937, has a large presence in Ukraine and should be celebrated as a current leading composer.
Dmitry Bortniansky: La Fête du seigneur - Sinfonia Allegro spiritoso (excerpt) 

As one of the most important liturgical composers of Ukraine, Dmitry Bortniansky composed scared concertos, cantatas and hymns. His work and dedication to music education inspired the generations of musicians after him to include many Ukrainian and Russian composers.
MPR's Digital producer Jeffrey Yelverton is a musicologist who specializes in classical music from Russian, Ukrainian and other Slavic traditions.

Visit YourClassical@ MPR for more on this and other links to stories about classical musicians in Ukraine.