The collection consists of articles about Ukrainian diaspora composers researched, written, and translated within the Ukrainian Diaspora Research Project conducted by the Ukraine Millennium Foundation.
The Composers of the Ukrainian Diaspora Research Project was initiated in 2001 when Pittsburgh musicologist Taras Filenko, PhD, approached Ukraine Millennium Foundation president Gordon (Bud) Conway, offering to research and author the project. The UMF Board supported the concept and received permission from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to use gaming funds to pay for the long-term project. The project was to include the biographies of approximately 40 composers living and working outside Ukraine. It was originally conceived as a book, but ultimately has become a compilation placed into the Bohdan Medwidsky Archives of the Kule Centre at the University of Alberta.
Phase One, completed in 2021, contains articles on 21 composers of the Ukrainian diaspora. Written primarily in Ukrainian, the files have been translated into English and edited by Lada Hornjatkevyc.
In a letter dated from October 3, 2001, Dr. Filenko related the rationale of the project:
“One of the purposes of this project is to bring hitherto hidden composers into the spotlight of international music. I feel strongly that there will be many discoveries. For example, there were two brothers-composers in the Ukrainian musical milieu at the end of the 19th century. Their surname was Akimenko, one of them emigrated to France and the other remained in Ukraine and composed under the pen name Stepovy.
I recently learned that the brother in France, although living in poverty, composed music as well… This is just one of the many interesting realities on the journey into the unknown terrain of the resurrection of Ukrainian music.”
Many years later, in 2020, Dr. Filenko explained why the article on Vasyl Bezkorovayny was still incomplete. The archive was in his brother’s private home in Simferopil and had been inaccessible since the Russian takeover of Crimea. These stories reveal some of the challenges in compiling research on composers included in this project.
Because Ukrainian history includes centuries of foreign domination, a great number of composers and musicians left their homeland and took up residence in other countries. Australia, Canada, Italy, Czechia, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and other countries have benefitted from the talents of their nationals of Ukrainian heritage. The Ukraine Millennium foundation intends to fund research into the identification of these composers.
Phase One of the Composers of the Ukrainian Diaspora Project includes Fedir Akimenko, Virko Baley, Vasyl Bezkorovayny, Peter Deriashnyj, George Fiala, Mykola Fomenko, Michael Hayvoronsky, Andrij Hnatyschyn, Wadym Kipa, Alexander Koshetz, Marian Kouzan, Gary Kulesha, Larysa Kuzmenko, Hryhory Kytasty, Zenoby Lawryshyn, Zenowij Lysko, Yuriy Oliynyk, Roman Prydatkevytch, Ihor Sonevytsky, Stefania Turkewich-Lukianovych and Wasyl Wytwycky.
The Diaspora Composers Project was designed to develop through four stages, described by Dr. Filenko in 2002:
Stage 1. Initial (Preliminary)
Evaluation of the existing research related to the project. Gathering publicly available and published information on the subject. Further delineation of the sub-stages of the project. Definition of the most efficient way of gathering information.
Stage 2. Intermediate
Systematization of the material based upon historical, socio-political, geographical and cultural criteria.
Stage 3. Advanced
Selection of auxiliary sources for additional information. Reevaluation of the cultural context and the role of the particular individual in cultural development and his/her influence on the musical culture. Musicological analysis of the selected compositions, comparative analysis of the stylistic characteristics, etc.
Stage 4. Final Stage
Unification of the form of presentation, development of academic apparatus, such as indices, maps, music examples, photo materials, and possibly audio material. Style of footnotes, especially related to archival materials from different countries, list of illustrations and additional materials.
Future of the Project
Upon completion of the Composers of the Ukrainian Diaspora Project (Phase One), with files on 21 composers placed in the Bohdan Medwidsky Archives in 2021, UMF intends to continue to fund Phase Two of the project.