Borys Lyatoshynsky was the most important Ukrainian symphonist of the 20th century. Until his death in 1968, he taught at the conservatories in Kiev and Moscow, and his students included Valentin Silvestrov and Yevhen Stankovych. When Joseph Stalin’s most powerful cultural functionary, Andrei Zhdanov, took up arms against “anti-national” and “formalist” tendencies in Soviet music, Lyatoshynsky came under massive pressure – not least because of his Third Symphony. In outspoken opposition to the aggressive policy of the Stalinist regime, he gave it the title “Peace will conquer war”.
His Symphonic Ballad Grazhyna, based on Adam Mickiewicz’s poem of the same name, was written in 1955 and spectacularly depicts the heroine’s heroic struggle against the attacking knights of the Teutonic Order. Together with the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine dedicates itself here to this brilliantly orchestrated tone poem, which was acclaimed at its double premiere on 11 November 1955 in the Kiev Philharmonic and the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow. The Ukrainian newcomer Artem Lonhinov, who studied violin and was a member of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, conducts.
The concert’s dramatic opening work is Beethoven’s overture to the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus. After the interval, we will hear Antonín Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, whose wealth of ideas delighted Leoš Janáček: “No sooner have you met one character than the second one beckons to you in a friendly manner.”