“Every Kind of Art Began to Flourish”: Ukrainian music in the modernist context





Ukrainian modernism, music history, impressionism, expressionism, atonality, folklorism


Although Ukrainian musical modernism has yet to receive the scholarly attention it deserves, composers living in Lviv, Kyiv and Kharkiv between 1917 and 1937 produced an abundance of compelling music. Not only is this rich body of work relatively unexplored in terms of its individual contributions to 20th century compositional movements such as impressionism in the works of Vasyl Barvinsky and Mykola Roslavets; expressionism in the works of Borys Liatoshynsky, Jozef Koffler, Mykola Roslavets and Stefania Turkevych; folklorism in the music of Levko Revutsky, Boris Liatoshynsky, Vasyl Barvinsky and Pylyp Kozytsky; and dodecaphony in compositions by Jozef Koffler and Yefim Holyshev, but taken as a whole, the diversity of new aesthetics and styles in which Ukrainian composers engaged reveals a unique openness to all forms of experimentation. Just as modernist movements in the western centers of Vienna, Berlin, Paris, and New York were shaped by local audiences and aesthetics, the Ukrainian impulse to engage with every revolutionary compositional movement while reclaiming a suppressed national past generated its own distinct musical identity. These tendencies towards both diverse experimentation and the regeneration of folk culture have already been identified by scholars of visual art, literature, and theater, and characterize much of the existing literature on Ukrainian modernism. The addition of musical case studies to this narrative of the Ukrainian modern period fills an important lacuna in both Ukrainian cultural and musical history.

Author Biography

Leah Batstone, Institute for East European History, University of Vienna

PhD. in Musicology, Rewire Marie Skłodowska Curie Action Co-Fund Postdoctoral Fellow


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Ukrainian musical culture: composer’s works, personality, institutions