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Akimenko, Fedir

  • Person
  • 1876-1945

Composer Fedir Akimenko (Yakymenko; b. 1876, Pisky, Ukraine, d. 1945, Paris, France), the older brother of composer Yakiv Stepovy, was recruited by the Imperial Court Chapel Choir in St. Petersburg at age 10. There he studied piano with Mily Balakirev and composition with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Anatoly Lyadov, graduating from the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1900 or 1901. He subsequently taught at the Tbilisi School of Music, in Nice, his native Kharkiv, the Moscow Conservatory and the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where his pupils included Igor Stravinsky, and during which time he was an active member of the city’s Ukrainian Art and Literary Society. In 1924 he joined the faculty of the Drahomanov Ukrainian Pedagogical Institute in Prague, where he wrote the first Ukrainian textbook on counterpoint, harmony and theory. From 1928 onward he lived in France.

As a composer Akimenko is associated with the Symbolist movement. Although he is regarded primarily as a miniaturist, having composed more than 50 art songs, numerous solo piano pieces and works for chamber ensemble, he also wrote symphonic music, operas and ballets.

Baley, Virko

  • Person
  • 1938-

Composer, conductor and pianist Virko Baley (b. 1938, Radekhiv, Ukraine) spent his early childhood in Slovakia and at a displaced persons camp in Germany owing to the Second World War. His first music lessons took place at the camp with Roman Sawycky, although his music studies did not begin in earnest until after his family settled in Los Angeles in 1949. He completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano and composition at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. After military service with a U.S. Army band in Germany, he joined the faculty of his alma mater, renamed the California Institute of the Arts, in 1967. In 1970 he joined the faculty of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Music, where he worked for the next 46 years. The founding music director of the Nevada Symphony Orchestra, he has conducted orchestras in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ukraine and Russia.

Baley’s compositions include a symphony, a piano concerto, two violin concertos and other orchestral works, chamber pieces, compositions for solo piano, violin, oboe, bass clarinet, bassoon and contrabassoon, a one-act opera titled Hunger, about the Holodomor, and the score to Yuri Illienko’s film Swan Lake: The Zone. In 1996 Baley became the first American to receive Ukraine’s Shevchenko State Prize for music.

Bezkorovayny, Wasyl

  • Person
  • 1880-1966

Composer Wasyl Bezkorowajnyj (b. 1880, Ternopil, Ukraine, d. 1966, Buffalo, USA) was born into a middle-class family and was exposed to music in childhood through singing in a church choir and playing the organ. He studied at the Ternopil Gymnasium, Ternopil Teacher’s Seminary and the Lviv Conservatory. He worked with the Boyan Choral Society in Ternopil, Lviv and Stanislav, organized branches of the Lysenko Music Institute in Ternopil and Zolochiv, and worked as music director of the Ukrainian Discourse Theatre. In 1944 he migrated to Austria, then Bohemia, and in 1949 he emigrated to the United States, settling in Buffalo, where he taught at the local branch of the Ukrainian Music Institute. His collaboration with poet Leonid Poltava was especially productive, resulting in song cycles and a children’s operetta. In all, Bezkorowajnyj composed some 350 pieces, primarily art songs, choral works and incidental music, much of which was intended for amateur performers.

Bilas, Mykhailo

  • Person
  • 1924-2016

Mykhailo Bilas was a prominent Ukrainian artist, weaver, and an important person in the history of Ukrainian art overall. He had three art degrees: in theatre and choreography, vocal, and fine art. He was born in Ukraine then under Poland. When he was 15, the territory where he lived was occupied by Germans, and later by Soviets. Bilas lived most of his life in the Soviet Union.

In 1992, the Mykhailo Bilas museum was opened in Truskavets'. In 1995, he became recognized as the People's Artist of Ukraine. Bilas died in Truskavets' in 2016.

He had deep interest in the world cultures - music, cinema, fashion. Aside from his achievements as an artist, he was also a talented designer. According to Dmytro Pavlychko, Bilas was great in transforming the folk art energy into new forms, new artistic artifacts, those that every person would like to have at home.


Михайло Білас (1924 - 2016), видатний український художник, майстр ткацтва, дуже важлива фігура для історії українського мистецтва, нетипова і парадоксальна - народний художник з трьома мистецькими освітами - театрально-хореографічною, вокальною і художньою. В житті і творчості Біласа, як в гобелені, переплелися головні сюжети культурного і політичного життя України ХХ століття.

Білас народився в Україні, окупованій Польщею, а коли йому виповнилося 15 років він пережив страшну німецьку окупацію і потім ще страшнішу радянську. Більшу частину життя Біласу довелося прожити у Радянському Союзі. Білас так написав про своє життя в радянській Україні в листі Любі і Мирославу Куцам 26.11.1989 року:

“…що ми можемо бачити тут, будучи стільки років відірваними від цивілізації і культурного світу за сталевою стіною застою, яка знищувала все добре, гарне і розумне. Яка навчала нас до замкнення всіх почуттів, навчила мовчати і боятися власного погляду. Це не жарт і Вам цього не зрозуміти ніколи!”

В 1991 році Україна здобула незалежність. В 1992 році відкрився музей Михайла Біласа в Трускавці, в 1995 році йому було присвоєне почесне звання Народного художника України.

Помер і похований Білас у Трускавці в 2016 році.

Художник з великим світоглядом, який завжди цікавився сучасною світовою культурою – музикою, кіно, модою. Його внесок в українську культуру не обмежується ткацтвом, масштаб його творчості ширший, бо він ще талановитий експозиціонер, який не боявся простору, модельєр.

Як сказав видатний український поет Дмитро Павличко, М. Білас є, власне, великим трансформатором народної мистецької енергії в нові форми, нові художні предмети, причому в такі саме, які хочеться мати кожній людині дома.

Автор тексту: Ірина Воробйова

З листа Біласа Куцям від 8 березня 1994 року:

“Чомусь не вміють показати цей чарівний світ Михайла Біласа, так само як не вміють написати моєї біографії, не можуть збагнути мойого “я”, того загадкового світу меланхолії, яку я проніс через все життя від малої дитини, того чогось незбагненного і загадкового, якого я сам не розумію, хіба зараз, коли задумуюся над собою і пройденим шляхом життя, я бачу, як нелегко мені було естетично, інтелектуально, якого другі не розуміли. Розуміла одинова моя Мама - інтуїтивно, підсвідомо - пестила, носила на руках вже досить великого, колисала і співала колискову, яку я запамʼятав донині і яку співають сестри Байки. Мій загадковий, ніжний, меланхолійний мікро світ важко комусь збагнути, бо це все в мені, це є я - неподібний ні до чого. Мені з тим і легко, і важко. Легко, коли я сам з собою, і важко, коли я в оточенні прозаїчних людей, обставин, коли мушу грати ролю власне тих людей і скривати моє “я”. І в мене все подвійне - то я веселий, то сумний. Немає “золотої середини”, бо дав мені Бог те, чого інші не мають і не додумуються.”

Колискова "Поперушко" в виконанні сестер Байко: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1HbKrxMh8M

“Мої твори оперті на українських народних традиціях, піснях, танцях, музиці, фольклорі. Все це я вивчив, запамʼятав, полюбив, зарисував і не знаю, чи за своє скромне життя зможу це все показати у своїх творах (а шкода!)”

Brytan, Roman

  • Person
  • 1959-2018

Roman Andrew Brytan was born in Edmonton, AB, on December 4, 1959 to Michael and Annie Brytan. Roman was married to Suzanna Brytan (nee Sidlar). They had five children. Roman was the voice of the Ukrainian community across Alberta, as he worked with CKER Radio 1480-turned 101.7 World FM, from March 1982 until November 2017. Over these 35 years, Roman's practice of his calling brought together all parts of the Ukrainian Canadian community, as he was regularly called upon to host and MC many events - local, provincial, national and international. Roman devoted his life to his community and to his family. He always said that his children kept him young, and instilled in them a pride in their heritage, culture and traditions. A broadcaster, song-writer, playwright, poet, lyricist, deejay, movie actor and event producer, Roman was the consummate showman, making sure that any event associated with his name was carried out with the utmost of professionalism and flare. His work was a credit to the Ukrainian community, elevating the efforts of its arts sector beyond its own expectations. His devotion to the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM) was evidenced by the many years he spent as local, and later national, president. Roman was a keynote speaker on many subjects connected to media and community, and in his later years, he earned the respect of his peers, playing the role of mentor and "elder statesman" to younger generations who sought his counsel. Roman passed away on November 26, 2018, at the age of 58 years.

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