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International Music Resources by Country: Ukraine

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Sunrise on Dogyaska lake - Рассвет на озере Догяска

Map of Ukraine

map of Ukraine

Figure 1

Ukraine covers an area of 603,700 sq km (233,090 sq miles) and is the largest country entirely within Europe. It is bordered by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the west, by Belarus to the north, and by Russia to the north-east and east. To the south lie the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-Ukraine

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Cover Art


Facts in Brief

Ukrainian flag

Figure 2


Capital: Kyiv

Official Language: Ukrainian

Current Population: 41,720,000

Area: 233,013 square miles

Climate: Cold winters (average 20 °F) and warm summers (average 65 °F); eastern Ukraine is a little colder in winter and warmer in summer than western Ukraine.

About four-fifths of the country's people are ethnic Ukrainians, a Slavic nationality group that has its own customs and language. Russians are the second largest group and make up about a sixth of Ukraine's population. The country is famous for its vast plains called steppes. The steppes are covered with fertile black soil, which has made Ukraine one of the world's leading farming regions.

In 1922, Ukraine became one of the four original republics of the Soviet Union, and it became known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. For many decades, the Soviet Union forced Ukrainians to use the Russian language and favored Russian culture over Ukrainian culture. Many Ukrainians began protesting the restrictions in the 1960's.

In 1991, following an upheaval in the Soviet government, Ukraine declared its political independence. Later that year, it became recognized as an independent country after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Some Russian leaders, however, still wanted to control Ukraine. In 2014, Russian troops seized Crimea, a large peninsula in southern Ukraine that juts into the Black Sea. In 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine from the north, south, and east. Many nations condemned the invasion. Ukrainian forces fought to defend the Ukrainian people. In the final weeks of 2022 and into 2023, the front lines of the war remained largely unchanged, as Russia continued to launch missile strikes against Ukrainian cities that were far from the front. 

Popova, M. (2023). Ukraine. In World Book Advanced.

Ukrainian Composers

Figure 4

Stone bust of Ukranian composer Mykola LysenkoThe cornerstone of Ukrainian 19th-century music is the work of composer, pianist, choral conductor, ethnomusicologist and teacher Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912), who, with his opera Taras Bulba (composed 1880–91, after Gogol′s novel), forged a national style. After settling in Kiev in 1876, Lysenko began to create a Ukrainian style based on folk music; he also aided in the revival of Ukrainian language and the attempt to separate the achievements of Ukraine from those of Russia. Lysenko was acknowledged to be the leading figure in Ukrainian music circles but because of his strong national and political beliefs, he was shunned by the influential Russian Musical Society. In 1904 he established in Kiev the Muzychno-Dramatychna Shkola (Music and Drama School). (Baley and Hrytsa)

3 Sketches. Arthur Greene, piano

Figure 3

Manuscript page from 1679 edition of "An idea of musical grammar"The most famous and influential work of Nikolay Diletsky (c. 1630-80) is Grammatika musikiyskago peniya (‘A grammar of musical singing’), a treatise on composition with three surviving versions from between 1677-79. The text was aimed at both beginning and advanced students and used traditional solmization and hexachordal terminology and constructs to introduce the fundamentals of music. The author covers both sacred and secular music, focusing particularly on the imitative polyphonic texture of the genre known as the kontsert, an a cappella style created by means of a subtle interplay among contrasting elements such as rhythm, meter, and texture, and unified by interwoven melodic and harmonic material. Diletsky’s examples include both vocal and instrumental pieces and his rules are meant to apply to all kinds of music. 

One of his constructs is called a musical circle; here he uses a circular staff to present a melody as it passes through each of the major or minor keys at the interval of a fifth. He uses solmization syllables to mark the progression of the melody and advises students to consult an experienced organist if they encounter any difficulties. This is the first circle of fifths to appear in a theoretical treatise, antedating Western examples by several decades. (Jensen and Vorob’yov)

Resurrection Canon. Sung by the Moscow Choral Academy Choir

Figure 5

Polish and German composer Reinhold GliereA composer of German and Polish decent, Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) was born in Kyiv and taught composition at the Conservatory there from 1913-1920. He taught many important Russian composers throughout his life including Nikolai Myaskovsky, Sergey Prokofiev, Aram Khachaturian and Alexander Mosolov. Following in the Russian Romantic tradition, the most important element in Glière's style is expressive melody. In his symphonic works he drew above all on the Russian epic tradition, that of Borodin and Glazunov. This is especially clear in his Third Symphony ‘Il′ya Muromets’, named after a Slavic folk hero, but all his symphonies, concertos and symphonic poems show a monumentality of image and a brilliant aural imagination. (Grigor′yeva)

Symphony No. 3 "Il'ya Muromets". Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta

Figure 6

Ukrainian composer Nikolai KapsutinNikolai Kapustin (1937-2020) a composer, was born in Horlivka, Ukraine

Kapustin's work largely belongs to the ‘third stream’, a stylistic trend associated with experiments to synthesize jazz and Russian classical music. The aesthetics of his music very much synthesize Russian harmony with jazz, all packaged in traditional forms such as the Sonata or Concerto. In the works he wrote during the 1960s there was a perceptible attempt to interpret the traditions of George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and A. Tsfasman, on the one hand, and Russian piano music, on the other (First Piano Concerto and various piano pieces). In the 1970s the composer focussed his investigations on the fusion style based on an amalgamation of elements of jazz and rock, European formal music and non-European folklore. His works were largely unknown in the West for many years. (Grigor′yeva)

Duet Op. 99 for Cello and Alto Saxophone. Peter Lehel, saxophone and Christine Rauh, cello

Folk Music


Baley, V., & Hrytsa, S.  Ukraine. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2023.

"File:Diletsky circle.jpg." Wikimedia Commons. Accessed February 2, 2023.

Grigor′yeva, G.  Glier, Reyngol′d Moritsevich. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2023.

Grigor′yeva, A.  Kapustin, Nikolay Girshevich. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2023.

Jensen, C., & Vorob’yov, Y.  Diletsky [Dїletsky, Dilezki], Nikolay. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2023.

Kapustin, Anton. Nikolai Kapustin. Anton Kapustin, Caltech. Accessed February 3, 2023.

 Popova, M. (2023). Ukraine. In World Book Advanced.

Figure 1: Ukraine [Online map]. (2023). In World Book Advanced.

Figure 2: Ukraine flag and coat of arms [Online media]. (2023). In World Book Advanced,

Figure 3: Henriksson, Håkan. "File:Mykola-lysenko-grave.jpg." Wikimedia Commons. Accessed February 2, 2023.

Figure 4: "File:Diletsky circle.jpg." Wikimedia Commons. Accessed February 2, 2023.

Figure 5: "File:Reinhold Glière.jpg." Wikimedia Commons. Accessed February 2, 2023.

Figure 6: Predota, Georg. In Memoriam: Nikolai Kapustin (1937-2020). Interlude. Accessed February 2, 2023.