Soviet period

With the start of Soviet rule, in December 1939, “Resolution No. 1545 of the Council of People’s Commissars (CPC) of the Ukrainian SSR of 19 December 1939 on the organisation of cultural and artistic institutions in the six newly formed western regions of Ukraine and the reorganisation of artistic institutions and educational establishments by the Council of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR and the Central Committee of the CP(b) U” was adopted, according to which it was planned to establish in Lviv “a state regional philharmonic with a symphony orchestra, a Ukrainian choir, a variety section and soloists” and “to provide the premises of the Casino de Paris (now the Les Kurbas Youth Theatre) for the philharmonic. Les Kurbas Youth Theatre). At the same time, the building at 7 Tchaikovskoho Street, where the Philharmonic is now located, which at that time still belonged to the GMT-PMT, was one of the next items to be freed from “private residents and the Apollo cinema” and transferred to the State Ukrainian Conservatory with a Polish department.

It is symbolic that the very next day after the resolution, on 20 December 1939, the newly created symphony orchestra performed for the first time under the baton of Isaac Pain, a 27-year-old conductor and graduate of the Kyiv Conservatory. The orchestra was formed under the Regional Radio Committee. The programme of the concert included Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony, Kosenko’s “Heroic Overture”, Barvinskyi’s Ukrainian Rhapsody, and Chopin’s Piano Concerto, with Leopold Münzer, a well-known Lviv pianist, as the soloist.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Soviet period

Isaak Payin


The active concert life of the Philharmonic began in February, when the previous orchestra at the Regional Radio was reorganised into the Symphony Orchestra of the Lviv State Regional Philharmonic (consisting of 55 musicians). It was headed by Isaac Paine (1912-1999). Also, Mykola Kolessa (1903-2006), a Lviv conductor and composer, was invited to work at the orchestra.

Another important stage in the implementation of the mentioned resolution was the launch of the Trembita State Choir, which included singers from Dmytro Kotko’s men’s choir, the women’s choir of students of the Ukrainian Gymnasium of the Basilian Sisters and the Minor Theological Seminary in Lviv, Mykola Kolessa’s Studio Choir, the choir of the Lviv Boyan Society, and some graduates of the Theological Seminary and the Theological Academy. Dmytro Kotko became the first director of the newly created choir. Within a year of its “creation” (and in fact renaming), the Lviv State Regional Philharmonic gave 1973 concerts in the city and region, including 65 symphonic and 1387 popular concerts.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Soviet period

Ісаак Паїн і Микола Колесса з концертмейстерами груп оркестру Львівської філармонії (1949)


The variety sector included the Tea-Jazz band, led by Jerzy Wars, and 26 full-time performers. A sector of soloists was also created – 17 people. At that time, the Philharmonic’s staff exceeded three hundred people, including 270 artists.

In addition to the former Casino de Paris, the Philharmonic’s administration occupied part of the premises on Mariiska Square (now Mickiewicza Square, 4), and rehearsals took place mostly in the former Stuka café at 25 Krasnoarmiiska Street (now Ivan Franko Street). Nevertheless, given the proper acoustic and stage conditions, a large hall with 720 seats, most concerts continued to be held in the Conservatory at Tchaikovskyi Street, 7 (until 1944 – Khorunshchyzna Street, 7).

The intense activity of the Lviv Philharmonic lasted only a little longer than one season – until 22 June 1941. During the period of the new Nazi occupation and the harsh war reality, the city’s musical culture suffered enormous losses, both moral and physical.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Soviet period

Теа-Джаз на гастролях у Тегерані (1942)


Famous Jewish musicians from Lviv, such as Józef Koffler, Leopold Münzer, Marek Bauer, and many others, were murdered. The conservatory and the philharmonic stopped their activities. The building at Tchaikovskyi Street, 7, was used as a military hospital, and the instruments, library collections, and the organ in the concert hall were damaged as a result of neglect. The Trembita choir, which was on tour in Saratov at the beginning of the war, continued to perform in Russian cities and was later evacuated to Kazakhstan.

A month after Soviet troops entered Lviv for the second time in July 1944, an active revival of the city’s musical life began at the official level. On 22 August 1944, the Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine allowed the Department of Arts to resume the work of the Lviv State Regional Philharmonic. From that time on, the Lviv Philharmonic, which had been suspended and later resumed after the tumultuous events of the war, continued its activities without interruption and entered the third millennium as one of the most powerful units of the world philharmonic movement.

On 1 January 1945, the Lviv Philharmonic was re-established:

A 76-musicians symphony orchestra: in the postwar period, the orchestra had to be reconstituted, which was done through the joint efforts of Isaac Paine, Dionysius Khabal, Nestor Hornytskyi, and Mykola Kolessa. Mykola Kolessa became the artistic director and conductor of the orchestra, and a little later, after his return from the front, Isaac Paine took over as chief conductor;
Trembita Choir (61 members, artistic director – O. Soroka);
The Variety Department (25 members, artistic director – K. Benz);
Jazz Orchestra (12 members, musical director – F. Mukha);
Orchestra of folk instruments (musical director – T. Dietrich);
Miniature Theatre (directed by J. Stadnyk).

In fact, the first “post-war” concert of the Lviv Philharmonic took place just three days after the end of hostilities in the city, on 30 July 1944, with the participation of the Symphony Orchestra under the trampoline of Adam Soltys. The programme included Myaskovsky’s Solemn Overture, Ludkiewicz’s Melancholy Waltz, Mazurka from the opera Pebbles by S. Moniuszko, and symphonic poems by Z. Noskovsky, Steppe, and Saint-Saëns, The Youth of Hercules.

The second concert was conducted by Mykola Kolessa. The performances included Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony, Barvinsky’s Ukrainian Rhapsody, and the Overture from Oberon by C. M. von Weber. Then the Lviv Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra under the trampoline of the young conductor Witold Kshemensky performed S. Franko’s Symphony, “Fable” by S. Moniuszko, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, and the overture to Taras Bulba by Mykola Lysenko.

However, the consistently implemented “Polish block” of musical compositions did not save the orchestra from the departure of Polish personnel: over the next two years, 126 people (out of a total creative staff of 184) left for Poland. Thus, the new face of the orchestra was formed by graduates of Ukrainian and, more broadly, Soviet conservatories and former employees of other creative teams.

This fact had a positive impact on the level of the eminent Lviv orchestra, and by the early 1950s, such well-known European conductors as Hennadii Rozhdestvenskyi and Reinhold Glier had already performed with it, as well as soloists such as David Oistrakh, Heinrich Neuhaus, Sviatoslav Richter, and Yakiv Zak. Recitals by Borys Liatoshynskyi, Levko Revutskyi, Pylyp Kozytskyi, and Reinhold Glier were held.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Soviet period

Ісаак Паїн і Давид Ойстрах


Along with I. Paine and M. Kolessa, the young Yurii Lutsiv proved himself to be the third conductor of the Lviv Symphony Orchestra. He would later return to this orchestra in 1987-1989, already recognised in Ukraine and the world as a Maestro.

From 1964 to 1987, the Symphony Orchestra was led by Demian Pelekhatyi (1926-1994), who worked fruitfully with his colleagues Roman Filipchuk (b. 1947) and Ihor Simovych. During this period, the orchestra featured European and international stars: conductors Bruno d’Astoli, Akis Baltis, Alexander Gauk, Leo Ginzburg, Balis Dvarionas, Veronika Dudarova, Michoushi Insoue, Jansug Kahidze, Kirill Kondrashin, Everest Lee, Fouat Mansurov, Carmen Moral, Yevgeny Mravinsky, Georges Oktors, Nikolai Pokrovsky, Nicolae Popescu, Napoleo Sies, Konstantin Simeonov, Saulius Sondetskis, Stefan Turchak, Arvid Janons. The choral and symphonic choral works were conducted by Oleksandr Sveshnikov, Oleksandr and Borys Aleksandrov, Hennadii Tsytovych, Volodymyr Minin, Vladyslav Chernushenko, Hryhorii Veryovka, Anatolii Avdiievskyi, and others. At the invitation of the Lviv Philharmonic, leading academic ensembles – symphony orchestras and choirs – from virtually all the “union” republics also came to Lviv.

During this period, famous musicians performed in Lviv many times: pianists Heinrich and Stanislav Neuhaus, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Hillels, Maria Yudina, Maria Grinberg, Dmytro Bashkirov, Rudolf Kerer, Tetiana Mykolaeva, Dmytro Paperno, Pavlo Serebriakov, violinists Borys Hutnykov, David and Ihor Oistrakh, Viktor Tretyakov, Viktor Pikaizen, cellists Sviatoslav Knushevytskyi, Mstyslav Rostropovych, and others. For several decades, the Philharmonic has hosted recitals by Dmytro Kabalevsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke, Aram Khachaturian, as well as Ukrainian artists such as Stanislav Liudkevych, Adam Soltis, Mykola Kolessa, Anatoliy Kos-Anatolsky, Yevhen Kozak, Roman Simovych, Myroslav Skoryk, and others.

It was on the Philharmonic stage that world-renowned Ukrainian musicians such as Oleh Slobodianyk, Bohodar Kotorovych, Stepan Turchak, Oleh Krysa, and Olha Basystiuk made their first steps.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Soviet period

Симфонічний оркестр Львівської філармонії. Головний дириґент – Дем’ян Пелехатий


In 1962, the Lviv Philharmonic finally moved into the building at Tchaikovskyi Street, 7. Prior to that, the institution rented the Conservatory Concert Hall for concerts (the latter was occupying the current Philharmonic building at the time) and its administrative building was located at Krasnoarmeyska (now I. Franko) Street, 25. Now all the structures were in the same building. The Lviv Music School and the regional organisation of the Union of Composers of Ukraine were also located at this address, as they are today.

Until 1962, rehearsals of the symphony orchestra took place at 25 I. Franka Street, and open-air concerts were held on the nearby summer stage. Later, this tradition was partially revived on the stage in the Bohdan Khmelnytsky Park of Culture and Recreation, and it was most fruitfully continued in the 1980s in the May “serenades” of the Virtuosos Festival. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Lviv Philharmonic continues to preserve the tradition of open-air concerts: philharmonic groups, ensembles, and soloists perform in various locations around the city.

Along with the active development of orchestral performances, an important page in the history of the Philharmonic in the early post-war years was the activity of the operetta ensemble, established in 1945. It gained a wide circle of admirers and was known as the Lviv Variety Ensemble. It consisted of artists who came from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Moscow, and Leningrad, including Mykhailo Vodyanyi, Yevheniia Dembska, O. Kovbasynska, and O. Herts.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Soviet period

Концертний зал філармонії. Радянський період


Since 1959, the Verkhovyna Song and Dance Ensemble from Drohobych has been working at the Philharmonic, which later became an independent group. The jazz orchestra’s journey was short-lived. Later, the vacant position of a “light muse” under the wing of the Philharmonic was taken by the so-called VIAs (vocal and instrumental ensembles). It was at the Philharmonic that the famous Vatra ensemble functioned. One of the pioneers of the new genre was Lviv musician and composer Mykhailo Manuliak. The name of Ihor Bilozor, the long-time director of Vatra, became one of the synonyms of Ukrainian song.

During this period, systematic so-called “field” events were also an important part of the Philharmonic’s work. The orchestras and musicians travelled to towns and villages in the Lviv region. Touring trips to different parts of Ukraine and abroad were equally active. Symphony orchestras from Lithuania, Moldova, Georgia, and other former Soviet republics, choirs from Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, and other countries, choirs, song and dance ensembles, folk instrument orchestras, and orchestral groups from various Eastern European countries also performed on the Philharmonic’s stage.

In 1979, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Stanislav Liudkevych’s birth, the Philharmonic concert hall was named after the composer.

Lviv National Philharmonic - Soviet period

Відзначення 100-річчя Станіслава Людкевича на сцені Львівської філармонії


At the end of the “Soviet” period, the Philharmonic consisted of a symphony orchestra, a chamber orchestra (formed on the basis of the symphony orchestra, directed by Volodymyr Duda), an ensemble of cellists (directed by Adrian Bilynskyi), and a quintet of wind instruments. The creative team also included an ensemble of soloists, including singers Oksana Krovytska, Bohdana Khidchenko, Nina Rudenko, reciters Oleh Batov, Larysa Rodz, Emma Dikareva, a trio of bandura players, Vatra, Malvy, and Oreol, and the Lilliputian Theatre. Until 1993, the Philharmonic also had the Trembita Choir.



(Based on the source – Lviv Philharmonic: Before and After the Century. Lviv, 2006. 76 p.)


Photos from the private archive of I. Paine’s family and the Lviv Philharmonic archives