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    National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine

    The Ukrainian Symphony Orchestra was founded by a Council of Ministers in 1918.  Oleksander Horilyj was their conductor and their programming was ambitious and forward-thinking.  Unfortunately, Josef Stalin hated modern music, and the group was almost literally killed off in the early 1930s, when approximately seven million citizens starved to death.


    In 1937, the Soviet government renamed it the Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra.  Nathan Rachlin was named Artistic Director and he led them for a quarter of a century.  Under his baton, they established themselves as one of the country’s premiere orchestras, so much so that many of their virtuosi were cherry-picked by the Soviets to play in Russian orchestras.


    The orchestra suffered another blow when Germany invaded and between seven and ten million Ukrainians were killed.  Amazingly, Rachlin and his musicians carried on until 1962.  He was succeeded by a string of conductors:  Igor Blazhkov, Fedir Hlushchenko, Volodymyr Kozhuchar, Konstantin Simeonov and Stefan Turchak all took turns at the podium.


    In 1991, the Ukraine finally enjoyed independence again after more than four centuries of suppression.  This change was reflected in the orchestra’s new name in 1994:  The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine.  Theodor Kuchar was promoted from Principal Guest Conductor to Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the group.


    The orchestra absolutely thrived on Kuchar’s watch:  Their recording of Boris Lyatoshynsky’s second and third symphonies won the Best International Recording of the Year award from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  Kuchar was taking home a pittance that equaled about two-hundred American dollars per month, yet he poured it back into the orchestra, going so far as to buy new reeds, rosin and strings for his musicians. 


    He also scored a huge record deal with HNH Records, which gave the orchestra international exposure by issuing more than fifty CDs in the span of five years on the Marco Polo and Naxos labels.  Their recordings were adventurous, frequently including little known gems by American, Russian and Ukrainian composers.  A good example is Walter Piston:  Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Fantasia for Violin and Orchestra, which won Gramophone’s Record of the Year for the year of 1999. 


    Other recordings on which they have performed include Christopher Mohr:  From the Realm of the Shadow, George Antheil:  Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 6; McKonkey’s Ferry, Morton Gould:  American Ballads; Foster Gallery; American Salute, Mussorgsky:  Pictures at an Exhibition; Night on the Bare Mountiain, Paul Creston:  Symphonies Nos. 1-3, Prokofiev:  Complete Symphonies & Concertos; Roy Harris:  Symphonies Nos. 7 and 9, Shostakovich:  Jazz & Ballet Suites; Film Music, and Tchaikovsky:  Dances and Overtures – The Queen of Spades; The Maid of Orleans; Mazeppa; The Enchantress.


    The above CDs were recorded between 1994 and 1999, when Theodore Kuchar was still in charge.  In 1999, Volodymyr Syrenko took the reins and they continued to record approximately twenty CDs over the next five years.  They have become an internationally renowned orchestra that tours Asia, Australia and Europe with regularity and makes their home at Mykola Lysenko Hall in Kiev, Ukraine.


    National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine recordings

    The Ocean (Henry Kimball Hadley)

    Conductor – John McLaughlin Williams

    (CD:  Henry Kimball Hadley:  Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 64; The Ocean, Op. 99; The Culprit Fay, Op. 62)



    1. http://www.answers.com/topic/national-symphony-orchestra-of-ukraine
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borys_Lyatoshynsky
    3. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/theodore-kuchar-q34744/biography
    4. http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.559003
    5. http://www.amazon.com/Mussorgsky-Pictures-at-Exhibition-Modest/dp/B00008IHVZ
    6. http://www.classicstoday.com/digest/pdigest.asp?perfidx=3378
    7. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=1273
    8. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=5463
    9. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=7696
    10. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=352
    11. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=8329
    12. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=9111
    13. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=3351
    14. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=6692
    15. http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=9823
    16. http://fresnophil.org/kuchar.html

















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