Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov: musical spokesman for his country, and now a refugee

Posted on: April 1, 2022

“His ‘Prayer for Ukraine’ was a centerpiece of a Metropolitan Opera benefit concert this month. His Fourth Symphony was played in recent weeks by the London Philharmonic Orchestra,” writes Peter Schmelz in Wednesday’s (3/30) New York Times. “As Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its second month, Valentin Silvestrov, Ukraine’s best-known living composer, has become a musical spokesman for his country. And like millions of Ukrainians, he has been turned into a refugee… In early March, he and his family made their way … from their home in Kyiv to … Berlin, where he is now sheltering…. Born in Kyiv in 1937, Silvestrov made his name in the 1960s with avant-garde scores…. Silvestrov chafed at the Soviet government’s restrictions…. But with the independence of Ukraine in 1991, and especially after the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the Maidan protests against Russian influence in 2014, he turned more openly to political and religious subjects. Silvestrov responded … by composing a series of songs later collected as ‘Maidan-2014,’ for a cappella chorus. (Its 13th movement is the ‘Prayer for Ukraine.’) … ‘Now all Ukraine has become the Maidan,’ he says.” For more on Ukraine’s composers and classical music scene in light of the Russian invasion, read Elena Dubinets’ article in Symphony magazine at