Founder of a new romantic school in Ukrainian music, pianist, choral conductor, folklorist, educator and social activist.
MYKOLA LYSENKO (1842, Poltava gubernia – 1912, Kyiv), founder of a new romantic school in Ukrainian music, pianist, choral conductor, folklorist, educator and social activist. He graduated from the natural faculties of Kyiv University in 1864. From 1867-69 he studied composition and piano at the Leipzig Conservatory. Since 1869 Lysenko has lived and worked in Kyiv. In 1874-76 he took instrumentation lessons with Rimsky-Korsakov in St. Petersburg.
He was very active in organizing Ukrainian musical life, which was not easy given the Emsky decree by which, in 1876, Tsar Alexander II forbade the publication and distribution of books in Ukrainian, as well as the use of the Ukrainian language in theatrical performances and the printing of musical works with lyrics. Lysenko was the founder and conductor of choirs, for which he composed many works. In 1904 he founded the Music and Drama School, which produced a whole generation of Ukrainian musicians. He devoted much attention to Ukrainian folklore, which he studied throughout his life and of which he was an excellent theoretician, publishing, for example, “Characteristics of Ukrainian Dumas and Songs Performed by the Verezai Kobzar.” In his work, too, he succumbed to strong inspiration from Ukrainian folk music, often making arrangements of folk songs for choir or solo voice with piano. Echoes of Ukrainian musical folklore can also be found in Lysenko’s instrumental works (string quartet, trio), especially in his operas treating Ukrainian customs (Christmas Night, Utoplena), or in the first Ukrainian historical opera based on Gogol’s novel, Taras Bulba.