Lysenko, Nikolai

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lysenko, Nikolai Vital’evich


Born Mar. 10 (22), 1842, in the village of Grin’ki, present-day Globino Raion, Poltava Oblast; died Oct. 24 (Nov. 6), 1912, in Kiev. Ukrainian composer, conductor, teacher, and folklorist. Founder of a national music school.

Lysenko graduated from the university in Kiev in 1864. From 1867 to 1869 he studied piano and composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. During the years 1874 to 1876 he completed his training at the St. Petersburg Conservatory under the direction of N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov. He collected and rearranged Ukrainian folk songs, formed choral groups, and popularized Ukrainian folk songs.

In 1904, with the financial aid of progressive elements in society, Lysenko opened in Kiev the Musical Drama School (from 1918, the N. V. Lysenko Higher Musical Drama Institute), where many prominent Ukrainian artists later studied.

As a composer, Lysenko was a staunch follower of the Mighty Five and in his work he applied the realistic principles of the Russian school of music to Ukrainian folk music. He wrote about 20 works for the musical theater; these works laid the foundation for Ukrainian operatic art. Lysenko’s works include the operas Christmas Eve (2nd version, 1882, Kharkov) and The Drowned Woman (1885, Kharkov; based on the plot of May Night by N. V. Gogol), and the musical comedy Sailors of the Black Sea Fleet (1872). His opera Natalka Poltavka (1889, Odessa; based on I. P. Kotliarevskii’s work), which is built around adaptations of folk songs, was immensely popular. The height of Lysenko’s operatic art is his heroic and romantic opera Taras Burl’a (1890; produced in 1924; based on the novella of the same name by Gogol). The opera Aeneid (1911, Kiev; based on a work by Kotliarevskii) is a merciless satire on tsarist autocracy.

Lysenko worked in diverse genres. He wrote the cycle Music for T. G. Shevchenko’s “Kobzar’,” which incorporates diverse vocal genres, ranging from songs to large-scale musical drama scenes. He composed many art songs and music to lyrics by I. Franko (including the hymn The Eternal Revolutionary, a response to the revolutionary events of 1905-07), L. Ukrainka, A. Olesia, M. Staritskii, H. Heine, and A. Mickiewicz. He also wrote adaptations of folk songs, works for chamber instruments, and studies on Ukrainian folk music.


Kharakterystyka muzychnykh osoblyvostei ukrainskykh dum y pisen’, vykonuvanykh kobzarem Veresaiem. Kiev, 1955.
Narodni muzychni instrumenty na Ukraini, 2nd ed. Kiev, 1955.
Pro narodnu pisniu i pro narodnist’ v muzytsi. Kiev, 1955.
Lysty. Kiev, 1964.


Gozenpud, A. N. V. Lysenko i russkaia muzykal’naia kul’tura. Moscow, 1954.
Lysenko, O. N. Mikola Lysenko: Vospominaniia syna. Moscow, 1960.
Arkhimovych, L., and M. Gordiichuk. M. V. Lysenko. Kiev, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.