Vitaliy Kyreiko

1926-2016, Ukraine

Ukrainian composer, pedagogue, music and public activist, Honored Artist of the Ukrainian SSR (1977), People's Artist of the Ukrainian SSR (1977), laureate of the award named after Lysenko (1985), Knight of the Order of Merit III century. (2001)


Vitaly Dmytrovych Kireiko was born in the Dnipropetrovsk region, in the village of Shiroki, Solonyan district, in a family of rural intellectuals: his father was a school teacher, and his mother was a preschool teacher. His childhood was spent in the villages of Mohyliv and Tsarichanka in the Dnipropetrovsk region and in the city of Kobelyaki in the Poltava region. Vitaly's father, Dmytro Kostyantynovich, was a piano and violin player. Having a musical education (he graduated from a technical school of music), he organized school or village choirs wherever he had the opportunity to teach. Therefore, the future composer in his childhood had the opportunity to hear the choral works of M. Leontovich, M. Verykivskyi, M. Lysenko, as well as Ukrainian folk songs performed by folk singers. Vitaliy's mother, Vira Yakivna, who knew many folk songs and proverbs, loved humor and was extremely witty, had a great influence on the formation of Vitaly's artistic tastes. Therefore, folk song creativity, folklore, were important factors in the formation of V. Kireik's outlook and musical outlook.

He studied at the secondary school in Kobelyaka, Poltava region (1935-1941). He graduated from the Kyiv Conservatory in the composition class of L. Revutskyi (1944-1949), and there he also completed post-graduate studies (1952). 1949-88 — teacher, associate professor (1961), professor (1978) at the Kyiv Conservatory. Candidate of art history (1953).

During the Second World War, the Kireiki family was under occupation in Kobelyaki for two years. During this tragic period, the father died due to an untimely operated stomach ulcer. Since then, Vitaly had to become the breadwinner of the family — his mother and younger sister remained on his shoulders.

When the Germans retreated, in September 1943, a choral performance was organized in Kobelyaki. V. Kireiko was the accompanist of the choir that performed before the public in military hospitals. Later, he worked at the Kobeliat Drama Theater. People appreciated the talent of the young musician and advised him to get a musical education. Vitaly sent his works to the Committee for Art Affairs in Kyiv, and after some time he received a letter with a recommendation to enter a music school.

In March 1944, Vitaly overcame a difficult path and reached the capital. He was lucky enough to meet the famous composer P. Kozytskyi, who, after listening to the works of V. Kireik, recognized his compositional skills and concluded that the young man should study at the conservatory. However, the Kyiv Conservatory was under evacuation in Tashkent at that time. P. Kozytskyi helped the boy get a job in the Song and Dance Ensemble under the Political Administration of the First Ukrainian Front. In this musical group, Vitaly was both a pupil and an accompanist. And when the Kyiv Conservatory resumed work in Kyiv, he became its student. The composition department of the conservatory was famous for its highly professional teachers, among whom were professors: B. Lyatoshinskyi, G. Taranov, M. Skorulskyi, M. Vilinskyi, M. Verikivskyi. For Vitaly, who completed only seven grades of a comprehensive school, and had neither a music school nor a college behind him, meeting such outstanding composer-pedagogues was extremely important. He studied excellently, received a scholarship named after M. Rimsky-Korsakov.

A true light in Vitaly's life was his composition teacher, the famous Ukrainian composer L. Revutskyi. The professor taught his students artistic honesty, artistic truth, sincerity of thinking, directed them to creative search, comprehensive understanding of music. The teacher focused students on the need not only for musical knowledge, but also for the study of literature and art, history, aesthetics and cultural traditions of his and other peoples. V. Kireiko was one of the most beloved and most devoted students of L. Revutskyi. He carried the ideas of the teacher, his views and traditions through all his work.

Despite the post-war crisis, musical and theatrical life flourished in Kyiv. Together with his friends at the conservatory, Vitaly attended concerts at the philharmonic hall, theater performances almost every day, and was interested in painting. For a young musician, getting to know the work of such notable Ukrainian vocalists as M. Hryshko, I. Patorzhynskyi, M. Lytvynenko-Wolgemut, Z. Gaidai, B. Hmyria and other artists was a wonderful school. He was impressed by the performance of the brilliant pianist S. Richter, whose concert he was lucky enough to attend.

The first works of V. Kireik, which approached the professional level, were songs, romances, choral works to the words of T. Shevchenko, Lesya Ukrainka, M. Rylskyi, O. Pushkin. For the graduation of the fifth year, the novice composer created his first large-scale work - the cantata "Mother" to the words of M. Rylskyi.

After graduating from the conservatory (1949), V. Kireiko studied at a graduate school and worked as a teacher of music-theoretical disciplines at his alma mater. In order to defend his dissertation, he prepared a theoretical paper "Ukrainian folk songs in arrangements of Soviet compositionszithers for voice and piano", and also wrote the first major independent work for a symphony orchestra - "Ukrainian Symphony" (1953), widely using Ukrainian songs in the music, which gave the work a national color. continued to teach at the Kyiv State Conservatory named after P. I. Tchaikovsky. In 1961, he became an associate professor, and in 1978 he was awarded the title of professor. Among his students is the composer Viktor Honcharenko. Vitaly Dmytrovych combined teaching work with creative activity, creating music in various genres. A milestone in the work of V. Kireik, his first significant creative victory was the opera "Forest Song" (1957) based on Lesya Ukrainka's drama extravaganza. This work gave the composer rich material for creating an interesting musical drama. Based on his own libretto, V. Kireiko created a philosophical musical and scenic canvas in which the real and the fantastic are closely intertwined. Through music, the author told about the pure love of the young man Lukash and the forest Mavka, about the collision of the poetic soul with everyday life, about the longing for lost happiness. The composer managed to fill the music with the bright colors of Ukrainian folk songs, and the deep lyricism and poetic spirituality magnified the wonderful original work with the freshness of feelings, the inspiration of human experiences. One of the leading themes in the opera is the idea of harmony between man and nature. This highly artistic work was worthy of its literary prototype.

After the premiere of "Forest Song", which took place in May 1958 on the stage of the Lviv Opera House, the name of the thirty-year-old composer became known among the country's cultural community. The very next year, the Opera Studio of the Kyiv Conservatory was opened with this opera. Her production in Kyiv also received positive publicity.

Vitaly Kireiko was a representative of a cohort of artists who were active champions of Ukrainianism. In his work, he has always been and remains a patriot of the Ukrainian nation, who cheers for the fate of his people, advocates for the preservation of the language, traditions and culture of the nation. The entire musical work of the composer is imbued with the spirit of the Ukrainian cultural tradition. When creating music, he always turned to the classical heritage of Ukrainian literature, which he knew and appreciated well. Starting with the work of Lesya Ukrainka, all subsequent librettos of his musical and stage works were written on the plots of Ukrainian writers. Thus, in 1959, the composer wrote the ballet "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors". He was the first artist to turn to M. Kotsyubynskyi's novel of the same name. This work can be called the Ukrainian version of "Romeo and Juliet" or "Orpheus and Eurydice", because in it the tragic death of the main characters has also become a symbol of love and the greatness of the human spirit. He embodied the romantic vision of the tragic, and at the same time, bright and pure feeling of the heroes of the story. Reproducing complex moments of psychological experiences of the heroes, the composer successfully used motifs of Hutsul folklore in the music. This piece by V. Kireik is one of the best examples of Ukrainian ballet music. However, due to ideological considerations, when most works with a bright national color were ignored, and works on party themes were encouraged by senior Soviet officials, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" was removed from the repertoire of the Kyiv Opera and Ballet Theater, where it was staged. For the same reasons, the opera "Forest Song" left the stage after a while.

These unfortunate circumstances did not stop the artist. Faithful to his creative creed, he wrote the opera "On Sunday Early..." (1965) based on O. Kobylyanska's novel "On Sunday Early Potion Digging", which was successfully performed on the stage of the Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater for ten years. Ivan Franko.

Following it, in 1966, the opera "Marco in Hell" appeared, which became a new turn in the composer's work. It was created based on the humorous fantasy drama by I. Kocherga. The artist was fascinated by the plot of the play, the combination of the real and the fantastic in it - the events of the civil war in Ukraine and the hellish world, where real people with their faults and sins are brought out under the guise of devils. Using such original dramaturgical material, the composer wrote an opera of a grotesque-satirical character. The opera significantly differed from the previous ones in terms of its characteristic imagery, specific musical style, genre-dramaturgical and stage features. Having created the first satirical opera in Ukraine, the composer became an innovator and experimenter in the opera genre.

The artist's creativity in the 1960s was not limited to musical and stage works. He worked prolifically in other genres. Wrote a large number of romances, choruses, instrumental works, symphonies No. 2 (1962) and No. 3 (1969).

Vitaly Dmytrovych repeatedly referred to the works of T. G. Shevchenko. Several significant works based on the poet's poems appeared in the 1960s. Among them are the women's chorus "On the Dnieper Saga" (1964), the romance "Poplar" and the one-act ballet "The Witch" (1967) based on the poem of the same name by T. Shevchenko. The artist dedicated a mixed choir without instrumental accompaniment to the memory of the great Kobzarode "To Shevchenko" (1964) to the words of M. Rylskyi.

The middle of the 1960s was the time when V. Kireik's talent flourished and he made significant creative achievements. The first tribute to the composer was awarding him the title of Honored Artist of Ukraine in 1966. And ten years later, in 1977, V. Kireiko was awarded the title of People's Artist of Ukraine.

The 1970s and 1980s were creatively rich for the composer, which can be called the flourishing years of V. Kireik's piano, vocal and chamber work. His music of this period reflected the social and political events he witnessed. Numerous compositions of that time are full of deep philosophical reflection. Among them are two vivid piano sonatas (1970, 1975), Poem for piano and orchestra (1973), the cycle of romances "Colors of Legends" to the words of A. Niemenka (1973), String Quartet No. 1 (1973) and others. writings. Against this background, the Concerto for violin and cello with orchestra (1971) stands out, one of the first double concerts in Ukraine. Creating this opus, the artist acted as an innovator-experimenter at the level of genres.

The theater composer's talent was also reflected in the two-act ballet "Orgy" (1976) based on Lesya Ukrainka's drama and the ballet "Sunstone" (1982) based on the legends of the Donetsk region.

During the 1980s, a number of works of various genres by V. Kireik appeared: this is a piano suite for four hands "Kyiv sketches", romances based on I. Franko's poem "How you will feel at night" and "Sistine Madonna", piano works.

The symphonic poem "Don Quixote" (1980) became a new page of the composer's program work - the most vivid symphonic work, which literally shocks the listener with the brightness of images, freshness of colors and inspiration, depth and originality of creative thought.

The artist carried the desire for symphonic music throughout his life, crystallizing the symphony genre in his work. Having created ten symphonies, the composer filled this traditional genre with a new original content and ardent creative energy, embodied his vision of symphonism based on a national theme. His symphonies are not programmatic, but one feels that the artist's thoughts are directed towards man, his feelings and inner world, towards the historical existence of the people and modernity. With his symphonic work, V. Kyreyko continued and multiplied the achievements of Ukrainian symphony after the works of L. Revutskyi and B. Lyatoshynskyi.

The composer turned to the opera genre again in 1985, writing the comic opera "Vernisage at the fair" based on the humorous novel by H. Kvitka-Osnovyanenko "Saldatsky patret". This opera, which was successfully performed on the stage of the opera studio at the Kyiv Conservatory, once again emphasized the composer's ideological inexhaustibility and witty humor.

At a time when most of the artist's works were full of optimism (the symphonic poem "Don Quixote", the ballet "Sunstone", the opera "Vernissage at the Fair", piano rhapsodies, songs for children), a mortal threat loomed over the composer's life. In 1988, he underwent an oncological operation on the stomach. Thanks to the talent and professional skills of the famous surgeon F. Shalimov, Vitaly Dmytrovych's life was saved. Professor V. Kireykov had to give up teaching at the conservatory, to which he had devoted 35 years of his life. However, he did not abandon his creative work, and in the 1990s, the composer's output was enriched with new works.

Throughout his life, V. Kireiko remained an artist of a romantic worldview. At the same time, his work bears the imprint of tragic events in the history of the Motherland, when whole generations were exterminated, and the lives of millions of people were destroyed. The theme of the long-suffering history of Ukraine and the theme of the free Motherland was in the center of the artist's attention and acquired a new tone after Ukraine gained independence. In numerous choruses ("Thought about Ukraine", "Song about Ukraine", "Ukraine", "Ukraino-nenko", "Ukraine lives", "Don't be sad, Ukraine", "Get up, Ukraine!") a fiery call sounds to the preservation of the national dignity and spiritual culture of the people. The suite for the choir "Tychiniana" (1992) based on P. Tychyna's poem is saturated with civic and patriotic colors.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Vitaly Dmytrovych created a large number of songs and romances based on the words of Ukrainian poets. In his work there is a real pearl of chamber and vocal creativity - the cycle "Autumn Morning" (1995), which consists of 11 solos on the poems of the young talented poet Mariyka Gubko - the niece of V. Kireik.

The most significant work of V. Kireik in the 2000s was the opera-drama "Boyarynia" (2003) based on the dramatic poem of the same name by Lesya Ukrainka. The work was written by the poetess in three days in 1910, and was first published in 1914. After its publication in 1923, the drama was under a tacit ban for many decades. The reason for this was its theme: Ukrainian national history of the Ruin era (XVII century). The composer was deeply moved by "The Boyarinya", its sharp socio-political conflicts, the inner world of the heroine and the true and sincere story about the fate of the free-loving Ukrainian girl Oksana, who got to Moscow, and even after becoming a boyarin, remained true to herpeople, protested against humiliating, servile existence, spiritual oppression, against outdated traditions that were foreign to the free Ukrainian Cossacks. In the opera "Boyarynia", the composer embodied the patriotic ideas of Lesya Ukrainka's work. By drawing parallels between the fate of Oksana and the fate of Ukraine, V. Kireiko managed to show how a human drama unfolds against the background of a tragic and controversial era in the history of Ukraine. He managed to feel and reproduce in music the theme of female fate in the image of a heroine - a spiritually rich, intelligent and educated female personality who is unable to adapt to life in slavery and subjugation in a foreign country.

The premiere of "Boyarini" took place with great success in 2008 on the stage of the National Opera of Ukraine in a concert performance. This work awakened and awakens the feeling of national dignity and the desire to defend the native land in any way.


"Forest Song" (libretto itself - based on Lesya Ukrainka's eponymous drama extravaganza, 1957),
"It's early on Sunday...(Turkinya)" (libretto by M. Zotsenko based on the novel by O. Kobylyanska, 1966),
"Marko in Hell" (libretto based on the play by I. Kocherga, 1966),
"Vernisage at the fair" (libretto by E. Yavorskyi and N. Nekrasova based on the play by H. Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, 1985),
"Boyarinya" (based on the dramatic poem by Lesya Ukrainka, 2008);


"Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" (libretto by F. Kotsyubynskyi and N. Skorulska based on the novel by M. Kotsyubynskyi, 1960),
"The Witch" (libretto by V. Nerodenko based on the poem by T. Shevchenko, 1967),
"Orgy" (libretto by N. Skorulska based on the dramatic poem by Lesya Ukrainka, 1977),
"Sunstone" (libretto by E. Kushakov, 1982);

vocal-symphonic and symphonic works

cantata "In Memory of M. Kropyvnytskyi" (sl. M. Rylskyi, 1965) and others;
10 symphonies (1952, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1975, 1977, 1986, 1992 — "Classical", 1994, 2002);
overtures, suite "Ukrainian Dances" (1958), poem "Don Quixote" (1981), etc.;
Symphony for string orchestra (1971);
concertos for instruments with orchestra - for incl. (1961), skr. (1967), double for skr. and Vlch. (1971); Poem for FP. from orc. (1973);

Chamber instrumental works

Fp. trio (1976), Fp. quintet
Works for string quartet
Works for piano, including: 24 children's pieces (1962), 7 sonatas

Choirs on sl. H. Skovorody, T. Shevchenko, O. Pushkin, V. Goethe, M. Rylskyi, P. Tychyna, M. Tanka, G. Hervega, etc.;

Vocal works

the series "Colors of Legends" (published by A. Nimenka, 1973);
romances in sl. T. Shevchenko, Lesya Ukrainka, I. Franka, etc.;
songs; arr. born songs;


music for theatrical performances.

Musicological works

Dissertation Ukr. born songs arranged by Soviet composers for voice and piano (1953);
Articles in sciences. Coll., in press.

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