Classical Music Thrives in Kiev

The National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine is housed in a distinctive 19th century building located at the end of Khreschatyk Street. The building features two adjacent concert halls which have long been venues for quality music in the city of Kiev. Renowned composers who have presented their creative genius to appreciative audiences in these concert halls include Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, with opera singers including the legendary Feodor Chaliapin and Leonid Sobinov.

At the time the building was constructed, Kiev was a prominent commercial and cultural center in the south-west region of the Russian Empire, and it soon became the hub of social and cultural gatherings in the city, hosting a variety of events such as masquerade balls, literary evenings, and science and political conferences. Having been designed by talented Kiev architect, Vladimir Nikolayev, the building has superb acoustics, making it a sought-after venue for concerts and musical performances. Ukrainian composer, conductor and pianist Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912) was one of the founders of the Philharmonic Society and Ukrainian School of Music and was highly influential in bringing the music of popular European and Russian composers to the culture enthusiasts of Kiev.

The building underwent some changes in occupancy during the Russian Revolution and two World Wars. The 1941 Nazi invasion resulted in priceless archives of the Philharmonic Society being destroyed and temporarily brought its work to an end as the building was made into an officer’s club for the German forces occupying the city. When Kiev was liberated, the Philharmonic Society once again brought music to the city.

In honor of the talented composer’s 120th birthday and commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death, the building was renamed as Mykola Lysenko Kiev State Philharmonic in 1962 and was given the status of a Ukrainian architectural monument. Upon receiving a cultural grant from the Japanese Government in 2000, the National Philharmonic of Ukraine purchased musical instruments, including a magnificent concert grand piano, all of which have been put to good use as the Lysenko Column Hall features as one of Kiev’s most prestigious classical music venues.