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Culture of Ukraine


The culture of Ukraine is unique and diverse, but over the years it has been influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, which is reflected in its architecture, music and art.


Folk culture is fundamental and basic for the Ukrainian national culture. Ukrainian professional science, literature and art has been formed on it gradually.

The originality of Ukrainian culture has been defined by the influence of geographical conditions, peculiarities of the historical process, as well as interaction with other ethnic cultures.

An important historical stage of Ukrainian culture was the adoption of Christianity in the 10th century.

Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Christianity, which is the dominant religion in the country (Orthodox Christianity).

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the largest in the country. Eastern Catholicism is the second most widely practiced religion in Ukraine. Protestantism and Judaism are also well represented in the country.

Gender roles tend to be more traditional in Ukraine than in the West. Grandparents play a great role in raising children.

Ukrainian humor often deals with Ukrainian everyday life, Russians (often referred to as "Moskali,") other ethnic minorities and Ukrainians themselves. A majority of jokes make fun of stereotypical ethnic features.

Ukrainian music

Many of its ethnic groups living within Ukraine have their own unique musical traditions. The most striking general characteristic of authentic ethnic Ukrainian folk music is the wide use of minor modes.

Ritual songs of Ukraine are frequently in recitative style, essentially monodic. For example, Shchedrivka "Shchedryk" known in the West as "Carol of the Bells".

The bulk of Ukrainian folk songs melodies are based on scales identical to mеdieval modes, but differ in melodic structure.

Ukrainian vocal music exhibits a wide variety of forms – monodic, heterophonic, homophonic, harmonic and polyphonic. Ukrainian folk song singing style can be divided into a number of broad aesthetic categories:

Solo singing - primarily ritual songs including holosinnya (sung at wakes).Solo singing with instrumental accompaniment of the bandura, kobza, or lira by professional singers known as kobzari, or lirnyky.

The highest form of development of this style of singing can be seen in the lyric historical folk epics known as dumy.

Archaic type of modal "a cappella" vocal style in which a phrase sung by a soloist is answered by a choral phrase in two, or three, voice harmony.

Traditional Ukrainian instruments are:

kobza (lute), bandura, violin, basolya (3-string cello), lira (hurdy-gurdy), tsymbaly, sopilka (duct flute), trembita (alpenhorn), fife, volynka (bagpipes), buben (frame drum), tulumbas (kettledrum), resheto (tambourine) and drymba / varhan (Jaw harp).

Troyisti muzyky are traditional instrumental ensembles of Ukraine. Literally it means "three musicians" who typically make up the ensemble, for example, violin, sopilka and buben.

Traditional Ukrainian dances

Traditional dances of Ukraine are:

Kozak, Kozachok, Hopak, Hrechanyky, Tropak, Kolomyjka and Hutsulka, Shumka, Arkan, Metelytsia, Kateryna (Kadryl) and Chabarashka.

There are also dances originating outside Ukraine, but which are quite popular: Polka, Krakowiak, Mazurka, Barynya, Csárdás, Waltz and Kamarynska.

Ukrainian instrumental and dance music has also influenced Jewish and Gypsy music.

The first professional music academy was set up in Hlukhiv, Ukraine in 1738 where students were taught to sing, play violin and bandura from manuscripts.

As a result, many of the earliest composers and performers within the Russian empire were ethnically Ukrainian, having been born, or educated, in Hlukhiv, or had been closely associated with this music school.

Ukrainian national school of classical music was spearheaded by Mykola Lysenko. This school includes such composers as Mykola Leontovych, Kyrylo Stetsenko and Levko Revutsky. Most of their music contains Ukrainian folk figures and are composed to Ukrainian texts.

There are also many famous composers and performers of non-Ukrainian ethnicity who were born, or at some time were citizens, or were active in Ukraine.

Among them are: Franz Xavier Mozart, Rheinhold Gliere, Isaak Dunayevsky, Sergei Prokofiev and Yuliy Meitus. Among famous performers are Volodymyr Horovyts, Sviatoslav Richter, David Oistrakh and Isaac Stern.

The music of these composers rarely contains Ukrainian folk motives and are more often written to the texts of Russian, or Polish poets.