Explore Music by Ukrainian Composers
Boosey & Hawkes and Sikorski are proud to publish music by leading Ukrainian composers, working over the past 125 years.
Peruse our catalogue of music written by Ukrainian composers, from ballets to orchestral and chamber works, including popular works by Glière, Prokofieff and Lyatoshinsky.
If you would like to discuss repertoire plans featuring any of our composers on the list below, please contact your nearest B&H Promotion Department:
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b.28 February 1877, Kharkiv; d.25 October 1952, Vienna
The Ukrainian-born Romantic composer and pianist was born in Kharkiv and spent most of his childhood on the family estate of Artemivka, near Kharkiv. After law and music studies in Saint Petersburg and Leipzig he started his career in Berlin, returning to Kharkiv after the end of World War I to witness further turmoil. Bortkiewicz fled his estate due to the Russian Revolution, escaping from Yalta and arriving in Istanbul as a refugee. He spent most of his later life in Vienna, apart from a period in Berlin which ended in 1933 with the rise of Nazi persecution and a return to Austria. The composer described himself as a romantic and melodist, building his style on Chopin and Liszt together with influences of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and early Scriabin. Considering the turbulence of his life, displaced by both the Soviets and the Nazis, Bortkiewicz’s struggle is summed up in the subtitle of his Piano Concerto No.3: ‘per aspera ad astra’ (Through hardship to the stars).
Cello Concerto (1922)
Violin Concerto in D minor (1922)
Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor (Per aspera ad astra) (1927)
b.11 January 1875, Kyiv; d.23 June 1956, Moscow
The Ukrainian-born composer was the son of a wind instrument maker. He studied in Kyiv and Moscow, where he took up a teaching post at the Gnesin School of Music. He taught piano to Myaskovsky and to the 11-year-old Prokofieff at his family’s Sontsovka estate in the Donetsk region. He became director at the new Kyiv Conservatoire in 1914 before moving to Moscow to teach at the Conservatoire between 1920 and 1941. He became fascinated with folk music and researches led to his study of Azerbaijani and Uzbek national music. Glière’s stageworks include the first Soviet ballet The Red Poppy and the Pushkin inspired opera The Bronze Horseman. He was also a major contributor to the concerto genre, between 1939 and 1951 creating pioneering works for harp, coloratura soprano, cello and horn.
Symphony No.3 (Il'ya Muromets) (1909-11)
Harp Concerto (1938)
Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra (1943)
b.23 April 1891, Sontsovka (Donetsk); d.5 March 1953, Moscow
Serge Prokofieff is the most important composer born in Ukraine, growing up on the family estate in Sontsovka near Ekaterinoslav in the Donetsk region. At the age of seven he penned his first composition and from age eleven studied piano with Glière who visited the Ukrainian estate for two summers at the suggestion of Taneyev. The family moved to St Petersburg when Prokofieff enrolled at the conservatory aged 13, studying with Liadov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tcherepnin. His graduation composition was the radical Piano Concerto No.1, launching his twin careers as composer and pianist. Works during the war years included two ballets for Diaghilev and his Classical Symphony. Following the Russian Revolution he emigrated to the USA in 1918, though his compositional career in the 1920s continued to centre on Paris, prompting two further ballets for Diaghilev, the constructivist Le Pas d’acier and The Prodigal Son. In 1936 Prokofieff took the fateful decision to return to the Soviet Union to recapture his roots, but was soon under political attack from the cultural commissars. He regained favour with a production of his ballet Romeo and Juliet, immediately acclaimed as a classic, but in 1948 was denounced along with Shostakovich and Khachaturian as a formalist. By a strange quirk of fate he never enjoyed the awaited cultural thaw as he died the same day as Stalin in 1953. In Ukraine Prokofieff was honoured by the naming of the Sergei Prokofiev International Airport in Donetsk, destroyed in 2014 during the Donbas war.
Autumn (1910) symphonic sketch for small orchestra
On the Dnieper: Symphonic Suite (1930) for orchestra
Semyon Kotko: Suite (1941) for orchestra
b.3 January 1895, Zhytomyr; d.15 May 1968, Kyiv
Boris Lyatoshinsky was the most significant Ukrainian composer of the 20th century, leading a new generation of modern composers away from traditional models. He studied law at Kyiv University and music at the newly founded Kyiv Conservatory with Reinhold Glière, graduating in 1919 with his pioneering first symphony. He took up a teaching post in Kyiv, also working as professor at the Moscow Conservatory in the years before and after World War II. He was initially influenced by the extended tonality of Scriabin, impressionism and symbolism but in the 1920s adopted the modernist atonal style of Central and Western Europe combined with Ukrainian folk melodies. His progressive approach fell foul of the Soviet authorities, especially in the 1940s and, like Prokofieff and Shostakovich, he was denounced as a formalist. In the last decade of his life, after the death of Stalin, he felt free to express himself more fully including in his final Symphony No.5. An influential composition teacher, his pupils included Karayev, Hrabovsky, Karabits and Silvestrov.
Lyric Poem (in memoriam Reinhold Glière) (1964)
Symphony No.5 in C major ‘Slavonic’ (1965-66)
Slavonic Suite (1967) for orchestra
b.28 November 1896, Stryj; d.1944 Krosno
The Ukrainian-born composer Józef Koffler became one of the pioneering composers of serial music, before his persecution in World War II and execution in 1944. Born in the Transcarpathian city of Stryj, he studied in Lviv and from 1914 with Graener and Weingartner at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. After military service in the Austrian army he received his doctorate under Guido Adler and returned in 1924 to Lviv, then part of Poland, teaching composition at the Conservatory with a specialism in atonal studies. He had met Berg in Vienna and became fascinated with Schoenberg’s theories and compositions, greatly influencing his own radical music. After the annexation of Western Ukraine by the USSR in 1939 he was professor of composition at the renamed State Mykola Lysenko Conservatory for two years before the capture of Lviv by the Germans in 1941. He and his family were resettled in the Wieliczka ghetto near Krakow and upon its liquidation escaped into hiding near Krosno. They were discovered by a German deployment group and murdered in a mass execution in 1944.
Piano Concerto (1932)
Symphony No.2 (1933)
Ukrainian Sketches (String Quartet No.2) (c1940)
b.27 July 1912, Kyiv; d.7 March 1983, Antibes
The Ukrainian-born Igor Markevitch was a pioneering composer in the 1930s and '40s who turned his career towards conducting after World War II. His roots can be traced back to an old family of Cossacks who were ennobled in the 18th century. The family moved from Kyiv to Paris in 1914 when he was two years old and he grew up in Switzerland. Recognised as a musical prodigy, at age 14 he travelled back to Paris to study composition with Nadia Boulanger and piano with Alfred Cortot. In 1929, aged 17, he was taken under the wing by Serge Diaghilev and commissioned to compose a piano concerto and, in the following decade, as a leading figure in the Parisian avant-garde, was hailed as “the second Igor”. He collaborated with Massine on the ballet Rebus and with Lifar on L’envol d’Icare, one of the earliest orchestral works to employ quartertones. After suffering a serious illness in Italy during World War II, he abandoned composition and returned to live in Switzerland. Launching a “second life”, he built his conducting career and was particularly noted for his interpretations of 20th century music, including Ravel, Stravinsky, Prokofieff and Falla.
Rebus (1931) ballet for orchestra
L'envol d’Icare (1932) ballet for orchestra
Le nouvel âge (1937) for orchestra with 2 pianos
b.13 July 1938, Lviv; d.1 June 2020, Kyiv
Myroslav Skoryk was born in Lviv, then part of Poland, in 1938, the son of amateur musicians and great nephew of the Ukrainian operatic diva Solomiya Krushelnytska. He entered the Lviv Music School after the end of 1945, but two years later his family were deported on political grounds to Siberia and he did not return to Lviv until 1955 in the thaw after Stalin’s death. Skoryk resumed his musical training at the Lviv Conservatory and in the early 1960s studied postgraduate composition with Kabalevsky at the Moscow State Conservatory. He became leader of a group of young composers known as the ‘New Folklorique Wave’, with works including the Hutsul Triptych and the Violin Concerto. In 1964 at the age of 25 he became the youngest composition lecturer at the Lviv Conservatory and two years later took up a position at the Kyiv Conservatory where his students included Balakauskas, Karabits and Stankovich. From 2011 to 2016, he was artistic director of the Taras Shevchenko National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Ukraine. Skoryk’s academic work included a dissertation on modes in the music of Prokofieff and editions of classic Ukrainian operas by Leontovych, Vakhnjanyn and Sichynsky. Skoryk’s own music ranges widely across opera, ballet, concertos and works on national Ukrainian themes.
Hutsul Triptych (1965) for orchestra
Violin Concerto (1969)
Concerto for Orchestra (Carpathian Concerto) (1972)
b.19 September 1942, Svalyava
Composer Yevhen Stankovich, one of the leading figures in Ukrainian contemporary music, was born in the Transcarpathian region of Hungary. He studied at the Lviv Conservatoire and at the Kyiv Conservatory with Lyatoshinsky and Skoryk. He has worked as a music editor, as chairman of the Ukrainian Composers’ Union, and since 1998 as professor of composition at the Kyiv Conservatoire, now the National Music Academy of Ukraine. He is particularly acclaimed for his symphonic works, including 12 for chamber orchestra, composed in an individual style that did not always win approval during the final years of Moscow control. His opera-ballet When the Fern Blooms, inspired by Gogol and Ukrainian folk traditions, was banned from being premiered in Paris in 1978 by the Soviet authorities. It was not until 2011 that the work was heard in concert, receiving a fully staged performance in 2017 at the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. His deployment of folk elements in his works is highly sophisticated, weaving material polyphonically from different Ukrainian cultural groups, particularly drawing from his own Carpathian roots. The composer describes his method as “focusing the divergent energies of an awaking culture”.
Chamber Symphony No.1 (1971)
Chamber Symphony No.2 (1980)
Chamber Symphony No.3 (1982) for flute and string orchestra
b.17 January 1945, Yalta (Donetsk); d.20 January 2002, Kyiv
Ivan Karabits, one of the most important Ukrainian national composers of the late 20th century, was born in the village of Yalta in the Donetsk region. He studied with Boris Lyatoshinsky at the Kyiv Conservatoire, graduating in 1974 and becoming professor of composition at the Kyiv Tchaikovsky Music Academy. Following Ukraine’s independence from Russia in 1991, Karabits came into his own as a driving force in the country’s musical life. He was founder and director of the Kyiv Music Fest, the nation’s leading contemporary music festival, and artistic director and conductor of the Kyiv Camerata. His early works demonstrate the influence of serialism, while in the 1970s he explored large-scale symphonic forms combining drama and lyricism. He successfully fused together the influence of Mahler and Shostakovich with the folk music of his native country. His son is the conductor Kirill Karabits.
Concerto for Nine Players (1983)
Concerto for Orchestra No.2 (1986)
Six Preludes (1994) for string orchestra
b.28 January 1935, Kyiv
The contemporary Ukrainian composer Leonid Hrabovsky was born in Kyiv. His father was a violinist in the Kyiv Opera and Ballet Theatre who later died during the Stalinist terror. Hrabovsky grew up in the Kursk region and returned to Ukraine after World War II studying composition at the Kyiv Conservatoire under Revutsky and Lyatoshinsky. He became a leading member of the Ukrainian avant-garde, along with Silvestrov, but fell from favour in the 1960s and ‘70s because of his pursuit of modernist styles including serialism, meaning his works were seldom performed and he survived mainly from composing film music. He moved to Moscow in 1981 and the decade saw increasing performances in the West. He emigrated to New York in 1990 as composer in residence at the Ukrainian Institute of America and now lives in New Jersey.
Symphonic Frescoes (1961) for orchestra
Concerto misterioso (1977) for nine instruments
When: Introduction and nine miniatures (1987) for mezzo and chamber orchestra
b.22 June 1960, Kharkiv
A leading Ukrainian composer of his generation, Alexander Shchetinsky grew up in Kharkiv and studied at the Arts Institute with Valentyn Borisov and independently with Valentyn Bibik. From 1982 he taught in Kharkiv and in 1995 became a freelance composer. In the early 1990s he won a series of major prizes including the Serocki Competition in Poland for Glossolalie and the Sacred Muisc Competition in Fribourg for The Preacher’s Word. His music demonstrates influences from the avant-garde generation of composers including Denisov, Schnittke, Pärt, Gubaidulina and Silvestrov together with Western figures such as Messiaen and Ligeti. He combines a serialist approach with a post-modern sensibility, combining stylistic elements from different musical eras. His music demonstrates a personal spiritual approach akin to Eastern European minimalism, with many of his recent works being contemplative and inspired by religious themes, including a growing corpus of choral pieces. He has helped organise contemporary music festivals and series in Ukraine and Russia, including Festival Contrasts in Lviv and New Music in Kharhiv. Since 2006 he has lived in Kyiv.
Glossolalie (1989) for chamber orchestra
Way to Meditation (1990) for chamber ensemble
The Preacher’s Word (1991) for soprano and string quartet
Testament by Mark-Anthony Turnage
For those searching for new music with Ukrainian texts, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Testament (2017), for soprano and orchestra, sets Ukrainian poetry on the subject of oppression and exile. The three chosen poets span the imperial, Soviet and modern eras, including Serhiy Zhadan, Vasyl Stus and Taras Shevchenko, whose poem Testament prompted the work’s title. Turnage’s work is available in English translation or in the original Ukrainian. It has been performed under the baton of Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits and has been sung by Natalya Romaniw, Olga Pasichnyk and Tatiana Miyus.
“…a prolonged cry of defiance against the oppression suffered by Ukraine at Russian hands down the centuries… It takes the form of settings of four poems, the earliest of which was written in Tsarist times, when the language was banned. Another was written by a poet who died in a Soviet labour camp; the latest is about the conflict in the Donetsk region… The note of protest and lament resounds through all of them.”
“…this 25-minute work explores themes of war and displacement via text by three Ukraine-born poets who span the imperial, Soviet and modern eras… Turnage’s choices are strong and urgent. So is his music, at times stark and explosive, as at the start of ‘Weep, sky, weep’, yet lyrical too, with evocative, sombre low woodwind, piano, celesta, harp and bells… a thrilling Turnage premiere.”
“He’s woven Ukrainian folk songs into the score: pairs of woodwinds lament in close harmony and a solo flute trails birdsong across the eloquent vocal lines... The final song deals harrowingly with recent events, and tastes all the more bitter for being so lucid, and so obviously without any musical agenda other than compassion.”
Photo: Top row - Sergei Bortkiewicz, Reinhold Glière, Serge Prokofieff, Boris Lyatoshinsky, Jósef Koffler, Igor Markevitch; Bottom row - Myroslav Skoryk, Yevhen Stankovich, Ivan Karabits, Leonid Hrabovsky, Alexander Shchetinsky.