Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921)
LEONTOVYCH, Mykola (1877-1921) was the leading Ukrainian composer of his time, a figure whose output is largely made up of folk-inspired works for unaccompanied chorus. Among his more popular and critically acclaimed compositions are the vastly popular Shchedryk (The Carol of the Bells) and Dudaryk (The Duda Player). Leontovych not only used folk melodies but folk texts in his choral works, and over time he evolved a quite imaginative and original style. Still, there are influences discernible in it, most notably from Mykola Vitaliyovych Lysenko, regarded by many as the first important Ukrainian composer and the man to whom Leontovych is generally considered successor. Many of Leontovych's works are masterly creations, brimming with subtlety in their harmonic invention (often Impressionistic in nature) and deft use of imitative counterpoint. During his lifetime Leontovych's compositions and arrangements became popular with professional and amateur groups alike across Ukraine. Performances of his works in western Europe and North America earned him the nickname "the Ukrainian Bach" in France. Apart from his incredibly popular Shchedryk, Leontovych's music is performed primarily in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora.