Considering the roots and influences of Ukrainian music and composers

Posted on: May 16, 2022

“The first week of May, I attended four concerts. All four, whether by chance or intent, had a connection with Ukraine,” writes Mark Swed in Thursday’s (5/12) Los Angeles Times. “No mention was made of Ukraine or Russia’s invasion at … the first of Gustavo Dudamel’s two-week Los Angeles Philharmonic series combining Stravinsky’s early ballets with Latin American music. But the performances were, indeed, indebted to the besieged country so much on our minds…. What’s Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ … got to do with Ukraine? More than is normally acknowledged. Stravinsky’s mother was Ukrainian. His family had an estate in Ukraine…. ‘The Rite’ includes elements of Ukrainian folk music, as do other early Stravinsky ballets…. [In the U.S.] George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas and Morton Feldman all have Ukrainian roots…. Violinists Isaac Stern and Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky … all were born or rooted in Ukraine and all fundamentally contributed to how Americans came to make and listen to music…. Ukraine never lacked worthy composers…. Native Russian composers often celebrated Ukraine in their works. Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ famously ends with ‘The Great Gate of Kiev.’ ”