Shirma, Grigorii Romanovich
Born Jan. 8 (20), 1892, in the village of Shakuny, in what is now Pruzhany Raion, Brest Oblast; died Mar. 23, 1978, in Minsk. Soviet choral conductor, folklorist, and figure in the music world. People’s Artist of the USSR (1955); Hero of Socialist Labor (1977). Member of the CPSU since 1959.
Shirma graduated from the Sedlets Teachers’ Institute in 1918. He carried out extensive cultural-educational work in Western Byelorussia and was persecuted by the authorities of bourgeois Poland. After the reunification of Western Byelorussia with the Byelorussian SSR, he organized in 1940 the Byelorussian Song and Dance Ensemble (now the State Academic Chorus of the Byelorussian SSR), which he directed until 1970. In 1966 he became chairman of the administrative board of the Composers’ Union of Byelorussia. Shirma, who began collecting Byelorussian folk songs in 1910, compiled several folklore collections, including Byelorussian Folk Songs (vols. 1–4, 1959–76), and he published two volumes of his choral arrangements of Byelorussian folk songs (1971–73).
Shirma was a deputy to the fourth through ninth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian SSR. He received the State Prize of the Byelorussian SSR in 1966 and 1974. Shirma was awarded two Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, two other orders, and various medals.