Borys Lyatoshynsky


Lyatoshynsky is considered the father of the Ukrainian modern school of composition.

BORYS LYATOSHYNSKY (1895, Zhytomyr – 1968, Kyiv), composer, conductor, and pedagogue, graduated from law at Kyiv University in 1918. At the same time, he studied composition with R. Glier at the Kyiv Conservatory of Music, where he received his diploma in 1919, later teaching music theory there (1920-35). In 1935-37 he was professor of orchestration at the Moscow Conservatory. From 1944 until the end of his life, he was a professor of composition at the Kyiv Conservatory. He was a member and chairman (1922-25) of the Contemporary Music Association, which was dissolved by the Communist government in 1932.

He was also the chairman of the Composers’ Union of Ukraine (1939-41) and a member until the end of his life. Lyatoshynsky is considered the father of the Ukrainian modern school of composition. A number of composers who in the following years decided the face of Ukrainian modern music studied with him, among them Valentyn Silvestrov, Leonid Hrabovsky, Yevhen Stankovych. Lyatoshynsky’s creative output includes 5 symphonies (1919, 1936 – rewritten in 1954, 1954, 1963, 1966), operas Golden Diadem (1929), Shchors (1938), symphonic poems, chamber works, choral works, and song cycles. In the context of the musical revolution of the first decades after World War I, he initiated the modernist musical movement in Ukraine with a series of works that originally reflected his admiration for expressionism. Unfortunately, this movement was being created at a time when socialist realism was becoming the aesthetic dogma. Thus, he could not be an alternative to the process of primitivization of art, which began to dominate throughout the USSR at that time. Lyatoshynsky’s attraction to the New Viennese school (Schönberg, Webern, and especially Berg) was completely unacceptable to Soviet musicologists and theorists (in 1948 and 1952 he was severely criticized for “formalism”, especially in his Symphony No. 2). At the same time, it was a very important current of inspiration for the composer, which was deformed in the following 30s, 40s, and 50s as a result of a permanent compromise. The entire series of chamber works (Violin Sonata, 1926; 2 Piano Sonatas, 1924, 1925; Piano Trio No. 1, 1922 – 2nd ed. 1925; String Quartets No. 2 and 3, 1922, 1928), symphonic works (Symphony No. 2), as well as the opera The Golden Diadem perfectly illustrate the composer’s ability to unite and change different musical structures – the diatonic space of folklore and the busy complex atonal language of expressionism. This does not detract from the artistic value but shows the dimension of the composer’s talent. The turbulent musical creativity of the 1920s gave birth to many outstanding musical personalities. Among them, Boris Lyatoshynsky holds a place in Ukrainian music similar to that held by Szymanowski, Kodaly, Bartok, Nielsen, or Enescu in their national cultures.

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