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Mykola Lysenko

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Mykola_Lysenko_-_1865_-_Мико́ла Віта́лійович Ли́сенко

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Biography

Mykola Vitaliiovych Lysenko (Ukrainian: Микола Віталійович Лисенко, October 22 [O.S. October 3] 1842 – November 6 [O.S. October 24] 1912) was a Ukrainian composer, pianist, conductor and ethnomusicologist.

He was born in Poltava Oblast son of Vitaliy Romanovich Lysenko (Ukrainian: Віталій Романович Лисенко). Since childhood he was very interested in the folksongs of Ukrainian peasants and by the poetry of Taras Shevchenko. When Shevchenko’s body was brought to Ukraine after his death in 1861, Lysenko was a pallbearer. During his time at Kiev University, Lysenko dedicated himself to collecting and arranging Ukrainian folksongs, which were published in seven volumes. One of his principal sources was the kobzar Ostap Veresai (after whom Lysenko later named his son).

Lysenko initially studied Biology at the Kharkiv University, studying music privately. On a scholarship given to him by the Russian Music Society he pursued further professional music studies at the Leipzig Conservatory. It is there that he understood the importance of collecting, developing and creating Ukrainian music rather than duplicating the work of Western classical composers. On his return to Kyiv he launched into the creation of Ukrainian themed compositions. His Ukrainophilic approach to composition was not supported by the Russian Music Society which promoted a Great Russian Cultural presence in Ukraine. As a result Lysenko severed his relationship with them, never to compose any music in the Russian language, nor allow any translations of his works into Russian.

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