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National Philharmonic of Ukraine
In 1863 the Branch of the Emperor Russian Musical Society was established in Kiev. This year is an important milestone in the history of musical life of Ukraine and Kiev. It had been rapidly developing since the first part of the 19th century.
In 1881 the Council of Elders of the Kiev Merchants Assembly got a permission of the Kiev City Duma, or Council, for construction of a stone building for their club that was erected a year later by well-known Kiev municipal and eparchial architect Vladimir Nikolaev. The two-story building of the Merchants Assembly stood in the upper part of the Alexander, today - Volodymyr, descent at the Tsarist Square, which is called European Square now.
From the outset, the Merchants Assembly was a success.
Crowds flocked to a great variety of entertainments including theatrical
performances, concerts, masked balls, charitable lotteries, literary and
musical evenings that were held there. Many Ukrainian and foreign actors
and singers performed here.
One of the best and brightest periods in the history of the Philharmonic is connected with the name of Mykola Lysenko. This well-educated person with wide interests, brilliant composer and performer, he can be justly called the founder of the Ukrainian professional musical culture. He took part in creating the Emperor Russian Musical Society, Literary-Artistic Association, the Bayan Philharmonic Society, the Kiev Ukrainian Club, and some other cultural establishments that had a great influence on the development of the Ukrainian culture and education.
The beginning of the 20th century brought World War I and civil war. The first half of the century was often called "time of troubles", as there were so many governments and so many regimes constantly changing each other that the citizens often didn't know who was in power that day. Nevertheless, the musical life of Kiev didn't stop. Concerts were given regularly, and such legendary performers as S. Rachmaninoff, A. Scriabin, A. Nezhdanova, L. Sobinov, F. Shaliapin and others appeared on the stage of the Merchants Assembly.
The Soviets didn't favor the anticommunist Merchants Assembly and abolished this establishment, having given its building over to the Proletarian House of Arts. Then there the House of Political Education settled, later - the Bolshevik Club and Republican Palace of Pioneers and Schoolchildren.
In 1923 the State Philharmonic was established and opened with the concert under direction of L. Steinberg. In 1927-1937 the State Philharmonic Society worked in Kharkov, then the capital of Ukraine. At last it returned to Kiev that became the main city in the country. For several years the creative collective had not its permanent stage and gave concerts at various theatres, halls and workers clubs of Kiev.
During the terrible years of World War II the State Philharmonic
Society stopped its activity as Kiev was occupied by fascist troops. In
1944 Kiev Philharmonic was given the building of the former Merchants
Assembly that was in a very bad condition but wasn't destructed like other
structures on Khreshchatik.
In the late 1980s the historic structure of the State Philharmonic, that had been given the status of the architectural monument, was renovated. All the acoustic properties of the Hall of Columns were preserved. In addition, modern technical equipment, the latest recording devices, an auxiliary telecommunication system, equipment for the stage lighting and mechanization were installed. The restored Hall of Columns of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine was open to the public on December 1996.
Today the National Philharmonic Hall of Ukraine continues to present a wide-ranging program that includes a full season of concerts by Symphony and Chamber Philharmonic Orchestras, guitar and bayan quartets, bandura trio, chamber and folk ensembles of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine. Also it constantly conducts international contests and festivals (Contest of Young Pianists of Vladimir Krainev, Contest in Memory of Vladimir Horowits and others).
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