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Mykola Lysenko is a founder of the national Ukrainian classical music who has generalized the achievements of the long previous period of development of our inherent musical culture and he brought it up to the world level.
The future composer was born on March 22, 1842 in Poltava region in a nobiliary family stemming from ancient stock of Cossack superiors. In 1865 on graduating Kyiv University Lysenko upheld his thesis receiving a degree of a Candidate of Natural Sciences, but having studied music from his early days he decided to devote all his life to it. From these days on he began his work which mainly consisted of collecting and elaborating on Ukrainian national songs as well as of composing the music for the greatest literary work of the Ukraine "Kobzar" by Shevchenko. Lysenko got his professional music education in Leipzig Conservatory (1867–69) in the class of such well-known teachers as Moscheles, Reinecke, Wenzel and Richter, and after that he increased his professional level in Petersburg Conservatory (1874–76) in the class of the world famous Rimsky-Korsakov. Along with this Lysenko wrote music, gave concerts as a pianist and a conductor. During those days he wrote a great number of sizeable works such as suites, quartets, trios, concert waltzes, polonaises, sonatas and his First piano Rhapsody. Upon competing his training he came back to Kyiv to continue his intense creative teaching, performing and social activities. Together with his cousin Michael Starytsky they headed a circle of Kyiv cultural workers and obtained the necessary sanctions to carry out public performances of the Ukrainian plays. So they became founders of the Ukrainian musical theatre, which strived to stage the created by Lysenko "Chornomortzi", "Christmas Night", "Natalka Poltavka" that later underwent further elaborations and were supplemented with scores of other operas (such as "Drowned Woman", "Eneida", children’s operas "Koza-Dereza", "Pan Kotzky" and many others). In 1880 Lysenko stated writing his most outstanding work a monumental-heroic opera "Taras Bul’ba" (the libretto by Starytsky for the adapted story by Gogol), which was completed only ten years afterwards.
In same time Lysenko worked in many other genre spheres, in particular, in 1880 there appeared a Heroic Scherzo for the piano. In the 90-ies Mykola Lysenko organized his well-known "choral travels" all across the Ukraine, and created concert choral repertoire consisting of the cantatas written for the verse by Shevchenko "Rapids are Raging" (their first performance took place in 1882 and continued afterwards during annual concerts devoted to the memory of Shevchenko), "Be Pleased O Not Watered Cornfield", "Ivan Gus" and others.
For the collected during his 35 creative work money Lysenko founded a Music Drama School which started its work in the autumn of 1904 and turned into the first Ukrainian educational institution which provided its students with a higher music education along the lines of the program for conservatories.
During 1904–1912 in the last years of his life the composer wrote such works as opera "Sapfo" (drama scenes from the life of ancient Greece), an opera "Nocturne", a cantata "To the 50th Anniversary of T. Shevchenko’s Passing", romances and many others. Those days his activity concentrated around the genre of spiritual choral singing. Such works as "Cherubs’ Song", "Where I Go Away from Your Face O My God", were to become real masterpieces and a samples for other composers. A "Great and Indivisible God", more known as "Prayer for the Ukraine" had been gradually accumulated its value as a spiritual hymn of the Ukraine.
On November 6, 1912 Mykola Lysenko expired still full of creative plans and uncompleted works.