LVIV Organ Art: History, Cathedrals, Music, Personalities




  1. The role of Christian religion in creating foundations for the development of culture and education in Ukraine.

The ideological basis for the progress and development of each nation is religion. Christian religion has been gradually becoming the determining factor since AD 325, when the First Ecumenical Council took place in the city of Nicaea. It approved 7 symbols of the Christian Faith and 20 canons of church life [see: 2]. For the musical culture of the Christian world, the introduction of a pipe organ to accompany the Sacred Liturgy in the temple was no less significant. This fact was recorded in AD 666 in the Encyclical of Vitalian,the 76th Pope of Rome. From that moment on, the door for the development of instrumental musical culture in the Christian countries has been left wide open.

The Encyclical is the basic papal document with which it addresses the whole Church. Untill the 11thcentury (when in 1053 there was an Ecumenical split in the churches of the Eastern and Western rite), the organs were placed in both the Latin and Byzantine temples [see: 2]. The next milestone event for canonical Orthodoxy after the separation of churches was the prohibition by the Moscow Council of a 100 of 1551 on the use of musical instruments in churches. This was a real backlash in the development of instrumental music across the lands that fell under the religious dependence of Moscow, which proclaimed itself the Third Romeat that time.

In all times of human societal development, religion is the main ground for progress, the unity of the population, its scientific, educational, artistic and musical aspects. This was the case in the various civilizational formations and at all times of the development of human society [see: 8]. Religious centers have always been the quintessence of public opinion and the leader of the people.

Formation and development of Ukrainian society is closely linked with the adoption of Christian doctrine as the ideology of the creation of statehood and all its institutions. Getting rid of pagan beliefs and introducing Christianity in Ukraine-Rus, each of the rulers contributed to the enlightenment and cultural and artistic development of our state and people.

The organ, as the greatest and most perfect of musical instruments, has always been a sacred symbol of faith. The existence of an organ in the Ukrainian lands is testified on a fresco on one of the walls of St. Sophia’s Church, founded in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise, [see: 3]. In the lands of Western Ukraine, the organ and all instrumental music played a major role in the Church Service, even after the church split.

But temples and monasteries all over Ukraine have always remained the centers of culture, enlightenment, science and legal culture, as well as music, iconography and art in general, as a creative reflection of reality. The rulers of Rus-Ukraine were brought up and educated by the lergy and monks. The scientific and creative process was constantly nourished by the atmosphere of monastic cells. In one of them, the grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, Volodymyr Monomakh (1053 – 1125), created the first major didactic work, “Instruction to Children”. It pointed to the direction of development in Ukrainian culture, ethics, customs and norms of conduct.


  1. Lviv as the historical cultural center of Ukraine.

In 1240, Kyiv was destroyed by the Tatar-Mongol invasion, and the grandson of Yaroslav the Wise – Prince Roman united the Halychyna and Volyn principality into a new unified state, which became the heiress of Kyivan Rus. Thus, the new state association on the lands of Western Ukraine has become the main center of cultivation of Christian, artistic and musical traditions, which originated in the depths of the history of Ukraine. The Son of Roman – Danilo Halytskyi became the founder of the city of Lviv, which he named after his son Lev. In Dorogychin (Polissya Volyn), Prince Danylo received the Royal Crown from the hands of the Pontic Nuncio, which was subsequently inherited by Leo.

With the reign of King Lev and his wife, Hungarian princess Constance, historians associate the introduction of organ art in Lviv kingdom. It was Queen Constance who invited the monks of the Dominican Order to Lviv, who brought the organ to the city.

The first official mention of Lviv organist Peter Engelbrecht was found in the archives of the Latin Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1405 [13]. This fact of paying the wages to the Lviv organist is a scientific confirmation of the 600-year history of the development of organ art in Lviv. In addition, it should be noted that the great organ of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral was built (replacing the old Gothic one) in 1402. Therefore, Lviv’s lagging behind in organ music from the historical capital of musical professionalism (the city of Paris) at that time was quite scanty.

It is also necessary to mention Lviv musician Luke (*? † 1532). His organ tablature of 1530 is the oldest example of organ music notation in Eastern Europe. Now this organ tablature is kept in one of the Warsaw archives. Professor Leszek Mazepa, the researcher of Lviv music history, lists the names of 22 musicians from the 15th to the first half of the 16thcentury, pointing out that in Lviv at that time organists were also called virginalists, harpsichordists, and musicians playing on the keyboard, regal or positive [13, 421 – 433].

In the 17th and 18thcenturies court organists Bartholomew Cavinsky, Jakob Leydens and the brothers Stanislav and Jan Kindlarsky were also masters of organ construction. They created instruments not only for Lviv and Lviv Kingdom, but also exported them abroad. In addition, all of them were engaged in charity activities, which were characteristic of all the countries of Western Europeat that time.

No doubt, at that time in the way of organ building France was already far ahead. In the era of King Louis XIV, the representatives of the organ building dynasty,the Clicquots, built even four-manual organs. But in Lviv, the development of organ art did go on. According to researcher Jerzy Golos, in 1765-1766, for the Dominican Church of Christ’s Body in Lviv, a new oran was built by master Mykhailo Sadkovskyi. This is one of the most prominent names in Lviv organ-building of the 18thcentury. [7, 215]. And at the beginning of the 19thcentury there is a whole cohort of Lviv masters of organ construction.




  1. Lviv organ builders of the 19th

The leading Lviv organ builder of the 19thcentury was Jakub Kramkovsky (18thcentury – ca. 1840). He built three most prominent organs for Lviv: 1. For the Franciscan Church (25 voices, 1806); 2. For the Dominicans (26 voices, 1808); 3. For the Bernardines (33 voices, 1812).

Roman Dukhenskyi (ca. 1800 – ca. 1870) started a career of an organ builder in Warsaw and Krakow, and in the 1930s he had already built organs for the Jesuit monks in Stanislav and Lviv. Among the most interesting instruments built by him was a two-manual organ for the Carmelite Church.

The Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene as the Upper Dominican cathedral was founded in Lviv in 1615. Since it was built on Holy George Mountain outside the Renaissance Lviv, it was constantly strengthened, rebuilt and expanded as a defensive stronghold. There was a School of Organists from the time the cathedral was founded. However, no information about the first organs in this cathedral survived.

Nowadays this magnificent baroque edifice functions in a twofold hypostasis: as a Catholic church and as an Organ Hall. Therefore, it is especially interesting to mention Lviv organist Antony Clement (ca. 1837 – ca. 1897), because in 1863, in the old village of Vovkiv (22 km from Lviv) he built an organ, which was moved to St. Mary Magdalene’s Cathedralin 1930,. Subsequently, this extremely interesting organ in the style of art déco (the synthesis of modernism and classicism) church ministers handed over to the Catholic church of the town of Bohorodchany. And in its place in 1936, the firm Rieger Kloss installed the organ of opus 3375, which functions until now and remains the largest in Ukraine.

Among the Lviv organ-builders who worked at the turn of the 19thand 20thcenturies, we mention Romuald Bochensky, Jan Grocholsky, Tomasz Fall, Bartholomew Zemiansky. All of them were professionally refined in the European centers of organ engineering in Leipzig, Vienna, Kraków.

The close contacts between Lviv and Czech organ builders are evidenced not only by the St. Magdalene’s organ, built in the Moravian Krsno, but also by the presence among the students of the most prominent Lviv organ builder Jan Sliwinskyseveral apprentices who came from the Czech Republic: in particular, Rudolf Haase, Franciszek Gajda.

Among the Lviv organ-builders a special mention deserves the whole dynasty of Zebrovsky [see: 4]. The last generation of the dynasty was represented by the brothers Aleksandr and Kazymyr. The most significant creations of Aleksander include the organ of the Bernardine Church (33 stops, 1898), which was destroyed in the 1960’s by the Communists and now only serves as a decoration of the temple’s interior.

Among the instruments of Casimir – the youngest of the family of organists Zebrovsky – we should remember the organ of the Armenian Catholic Church, as well as an instrument installed by this master in the Dominican Cathedral. But with the advent of the Communist regime after the Second World War, this organ was destroyed. The pipes and the facade have been saved thanks to the efforts of young enthusiasts. Now they decorate the concert hall of Stanislav Liudkevych in Lviv Philharmonics.

  1. Jan Sliwinsky (1844 – 1903) and his factory of organs in Lviv.

No reliable information about Jan Sliwinsky’s early years has survived [see: 29]. We only know that he was born in the town of Pistyn in Pokuttia, and at the age of 19 he got to Warsaw and even participated in the January uprising of 1863. It is likely that those repressions that befell the perpetrators of the anti-Russian uprising forced the young man to flee from Warsaw. At first Sliwinsky headed to Vienna, and then moved to France. He returned to his homeland only after 13 years. From the advertisements of Jan Sliwinsky, which he later published for the sale of the organs, one can make a fairly integral picture of the life of the most prominent Lviv organ-builder.

From his earliest years, the sphere of interests of the boy included organ construction. In his “Catalogue” on page 11, he writes the following: “My love and enthusiasm for the organ arose at a very early age. From my youth I tried to get the maximum information about the structure and functioning of the organ. I constantly felt the need to acquire knowledge in this profession.” In another place of the same “Catalogue”, the master seems to recall his joinery studies as if in passing. By the way, other well-known organists of that time, including Josef Angster and L.Blomberg, started their work as woodworking specialists.

Such a way towards building the organs was quite natural for a beginner. Like at any other factory producing musical instruments – whether guitars, banduras, dulcimers, or pianos – professional and skilful joiners are highly valued due to their professional skills. After getting an elementary education in some town in his homeland (most likely Lviv), young Jan Sliwinsky went abroad, which for him meant leaving Halychyna. From the documents describing the participants of the regional organ exhibitions, one can infer that the natives from Halychyna, who worked outside their homeland, participated in the exhibition process on an equal footing with the local masters of organ building. Most often, these were Halychyna natives, who worked in France, or in the capital of the empire – Vienna.

There is no reliable information about where Jan Sliwinsky continued his studies – whether in Vienna or right in France. But there is a whole range of indirect evidence that he worked for Aristide Cavaille-Coll for several years and at the same time got professional knowledge and was acquainted with the most advanced achievements in various parts of organ construction in the Paris central branch of the firm’s prominent inventor. In 1872-76, Sliwinsky worked at Le Vigan (dep. Gard), where he independently built a 12-stop organ for St. Peter’s Cathedral.

The acquired experience allowed him even to become a manager of one of the offices of the Cavaille-Coll’s company outside Paris in a few years. After his marriage Vincent Cavaille-Coll, Aristide’s brother, left the leadership of the office of the construction company in the city of Nîmes in the south of France. Instead of himself Vincent may have appointed Jan Sliwinsky as manager.

Most likely, Jan Sliwinsky’s business in France was not too successful, because in a year and a half, his branch sold only two organs. It is likely that this very result, and at the same time, the ambitions and the certainty that he has gained enough knowledge and information from the prominent inventor, prompted Jan Sliwinsky to return to Halychyna. From the fact that Jan Sliwinsky immediately started his own business in Lviv, we can conclude that his work for the firm Cavaille-Coll was fairly well-paid.

From its first steps, the Jan Sliwinsky’s firm gained enormous popularity both in Lviv and throughout Halychyna. One of the first organs built by this master for Lviv were the ones for the churches of Mary Snizhna and St. Kasimir under the High Castle. In his price lists, Sliwinsky identified the following prices: 4-stop organs were sold at 650 zloty, and the large ones – up to 30 stops and 3-manual – for 12 thousand zloty. Each instrument was built according to an individual and original project. The acoustics of the church in which it was planned to be installed were studied as well.

An important and very responsible work for the firm was the radical restructuring of the organ in the garnison church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in the center of Lviv, which was under the tutelage of Jesuit Fathers.

The garnison church

The organ building works were a complete triumph. Whether Roman Duchensky’s firm was still functioning at that time is unknown, but the firms of Romuald Bohensky and Antony Clement, which worked simultaneously with the factory of Jan Sliwinsky, never achieved any such scope nor such publicity in their activities.


Approximately in 1888, for the needs of the firm, Jan Sliwinsky bought a house in Copernicus St., 16. It was rebuilt for Sliwinsky by the one of the most famous Ukrainian architects of Lviv, Ivan Levinskyi (1851 – 1919).

All the masterpieces of organ building of Jan Sliwinsky were made here and from here they found their sacred, artistic and concert life in Europe: from Leipzig to Tbilisi, from Chisineu to Vilnius. But, of course, the vast majority of orders to the factory came from various Halychyna parishes. In 1900, for the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Stanislav (now Ivano-Frankivsk), a 24-register, two-manual and pedal instrument was installed.

Among Jan Sliwinsky’s 74 organs built in Eastern Halychyna there are only two instruments preserved to this day and still functioning: one is in the Latin Roman Catholic cathedral in Lviv the other is in city parish church in Sambir. Together with the ones in Western Halychyna, where the instruments were much better preserved (particularly in Krakow, Tarnow, Rzeszów and Zamość), Jan Sliwinsky built over 110 organs.

In the 90’s, this organ builder, apart from the production of organs, also started selling pianos. And he planned at that time to develop his own make of pianos. The realization of this plan was thwarted by an accident that occurred to Jan Sliwinsky in 1903. While tuning the organ he had a bad fall from the scaffolding. His former health never returned. He died in suffering and terrible pain, and was buried in the Lychakiv cemetery (field 51) in Lviv.

The high quality of Jan Sliwinsky’s organs was attributable to several reasons. First of all, they were made from selected varieties of wood that was well dried up naturally. The whole air mechanism was simple and reliable, and each register received enough air. For his big organs the master used pneumatic machines of Barker system, which allowed not only to combine the manuals and voices with each other (and these organs had easy copulation between the manuals!), but also perfectly intone every voice in particular.

In the “Catalogue” of the products of his factory, Jan Sliwinsky wrote: “The mathematical dimension of each pipe (the organ labial tube) has been brought to such perfection that it is possible to get the desired tone at once. This is my secret, which I learnt during the years of long studies“.



  1. Music schooling in Lviv.

The problem of organists’ upbringing in Lviv kingdom appeared immediately after the appearance of the first organs. Again the initiative to teach organ performance was undertaken by the Dominican Fathers. In 1495, in the town of Belz, 100 km north of Lviv, they founded the “School of Organists”. As early as the beginning of the 16th century, the graduates of this school worked as organists in Lviv churches [28, 106]. Researcher of musical life of Lviv prof. Leszek Mazepa, who has minutely studied the documents of all available archival collections, states: “At the end of the 16th century, the best was the chapel by the Dominican Church, where in the years 15871595 several organists and several trumpeters worked simultaneously, and from 1623 there was also a church choir” [14, 107]. The new Lviv school of organists was founded in 1841 by Franciszek Bemm. The tutition here was expected to last for 2 years, and the School was designed to house 15-20 students.

The radical change in the musical school system in Lviv was caused by the activity of the Halychyna Society of Saint Cecilia, whose founder was Franz Xavier Mozart. He was the youngest of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sons. He dedicated 28 years of his life to the musical culture of Lviv. The Society of Saint Cecilia was called upon to fully support professional activities of Lviv musicians. On the initiative of the Society an organization of mutual aid for organists was created [15, 104]. This institution was run by priest Leonard Soletsky. In fact, these two societies became the initiators of the founding of Halychyna Conservatoire. And the first paragraph of the Conservatoire’s Statute signified its task: to educate savvy professional organists.

The constant improvement of the professional level among organists was at the center of attention – the I Congress of Choir Conductors and Organists, held in 1899 in the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (to which also belonged Lviv) in Vienna. Seven years after that, a similar congress (1906) took place in the city of Stryi, which is 70 kilometers south of Lviv. In the then Halychyna periodical edition of the Voice of Organists, the Statute of Organists-Professionals was published [13; 14].


  1. «Golden Age» of organ art in Lviv.

Of all Ukrainian cities only Lviv could boast of organ art and organ building at a rather high level in the 19th and 20th centuries. Fifty different organs sounded daily in Lviv churches. Lviv factories and individual workshops were busy building organs not only for Halychyna, but also for sacred buildings in various European cities. Along with the daily use of organs in the Holy Mass in Lviv temples, organ music concerts were constantly in demand by the public. There was even a kind of competition in the invitation of foreign organists to play secular concerts in the Catholic churches of St. Elizabeth and St. Mary-Magdalene. This dual use of organs, both for the accompaniment of the Holy Liturgy and for secular concert performances (albeit in the temple), is a direct proof of the fading boundary between the sacred and the profane nature of organ art in general. In both cases, the same instrument sounded in the same walls, under the hands of the same organists, who even performed spiritual music in secular concerts. St. Elizabeth’s organ was larger (by the number of stops), and the temple of St. Mary-Magdalene housed a more technically advanced instrument. Lviv’s Church of St. Mary-Magdalene still possesses unique features of its perfect acoustics.

Since time immemorial researchers of creative processes have been glorifying the creator (that is, the author of an artefact) as one of the greatest sacraments, who is raised to the level of a semi-deity. Art has always been a means capable of satisfying the feeling of the sacred, but vivid profane entities appear occasionally again and again throughout the history of mankind [24, 161]. Artistic creation is a mystery endowed with sacred content, because for a long time art and religion were inadvertently in a single sacred space up to the beginning of the process of secularization [30, 78]. And only when the liberation from religious traditions gained weight in public relationships, in many cases, the connection between art and religion was broken [26]. Since then, art can be perceived as part of secular, that is, profane space. This also applies to organ art in particular.

For centuries organ music in Lviv has been in an inseparable unity with the religious cult of the Catholic rite. And only at the end of the 18th century did Lviv’s Protestants join the sacred interpretation of the organ, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Evangelical church, situated at the beginning of Zelena Street, entered into the competition for a listener of secular concerts by way of inviting visiting organists. At the same time, Lviv composers, who created music for the organ, begin to skillfully combine deep spirituality with the elements of secular elements in their compositions.


  1. Formation of the Lviv Organ School.

The true flowering of organ building in Lviv began in the middle of the 19th century. Even then, Lviv organs successfully satisfied performing needs of the world organ literature, as well as improvisations on the basis of Catholic and Protestant chorales. Among the well-known composers of the Lviv Organ School are the creators who were educated in European capitals, primarily in Vienna, Prague and Paris. The French organ composer school is particularly noticeable in the creative work of Mieczysław Sołtys and Tadeusz Mahl. Traditional heritage played an important part in modern Lviv composer’s school. Its notable features are the influences of post-classical Viennese masters and the German Leipzig School. All in all, we can state some influences from both Warsaw and Kraków.

The achievements of European piano mastery of the 19th century was a significant foundation for the modern Lviv organ school and its Lviv representatives in particular. Here we have to highlight the role of piano virtuoso Karol Mikula, and later – composer, pianist and teacher Tadeusz Majerski. Actually, both Lviv organist and composer Andriy Nikodemovych, as well as pianist and organist Samuel Daych started their performer career as pianists.

The creativity of Lviv composers who wrote music for the organ during the second half of 19th – the first half of the 20th century, is less known to the general public. Unfortunately, it is still feebly promoted in Ukraine. This problem still persists for modern Ukrainian organists. And that was not only the flowering period of Lviv organ-building, but also organ music composing. Only the fierce struggle of the Soviet regime with religion by force interrupted this process of flowering of Lviv organ art. Therefore, the names of Lviv composers, the creators of music for the organ, who, with a special piety, aspired to and continue to aspire to the factor of sacredness in their art, deserve special attention.


  1. Mieczysław Sołtys (1863 – 1929).


Mieczysław Sołtys was a personality who played a special role in Lviv’s music milieu. He was born and died in Lviv, although his years as mature professional musician and composer were connected with Vienna and Paris [4; 5]. M. Sołtys was a composer and conductor, pianist and organist, teacher and publicist. M. Sołtys began his music career at the Conservatory of the Halychyna Music Society, where his mentor was the founder and director of the Society and the Conservatory, virtuoso pianist, composer, conductor and music figure Karol Mikuli (1819 – 1897).
According to the then Halychyna tradition, M. Sołtys simultaneously received another education, studying at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Jan Kazimierz Lviv University,. And from 1887 onwards, M. Sołtys studied music composition at Vienna Conservatory (Das Konservatorium der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien) and later at Paris Conservatory, where he was mastering organ and counterpoint with Eugene Gigout, and composition with Camille Saint-Saëns.
After the completion of European studies, M. Sołtys returns to Lviv in 1891 and becomes professor at the Conservatory of the Halychyna Music Society. He teaches musical forms and conducting, the piano and organ. At the same time, his fame as a music critic and publicist grows up. Mieczysław Sołtys becomes the editor of several Lviv periodicals, such as “Artistic News”, “Our Art”, “People’s Diary”, “Lviv Courier”. He is constantly following political, social and literary news. At that time critical articles by Sołtys become the ultimate truth for Lviv audience. His opinion and approving attitude are treasured not only by the performing musicians, but also by the Lviv organ builders. Professor Sołtys’ knowledge of this musical field at that time was assessed as superb at the highest European level.

The formation of public opinion in the musical sphere of Lviv in the early 20th century was solely based on the great unsurpassed authority of Professor M. Sołtys. Mieczysław Sołtys was not only a good composer and organist, but also a researcher of organ art. He has repeatedly published critical articles and reviews in the press. One of his most famous works was the article “The New Organ in the Bernardine Church”. His musical and promotional efforts in the field of organ art were all aimed at emphasizing the aspect of sacredness, which this prominent cultural figure and representative of the Lviv beau monde considered an indisputable fact.



  1. Tadeusz Majerski (1888 – 1963)

Another outstanding teacher, composer and pianist who linked his life with Lviv was Tadeusz Majerski. Here he was born, studied philosophy at the university, and in Lviv conservatoire (1905 – 1911) studied the piano and composition under Ludomir Różycki (1883 1953). Starting as early as from 1920, at the Conservatory of the Halychyna Music Society, Tadeusz Maerski had been a professor of the piano. In 1927 he founded the “Lviv Trio”, with which he toured throughout Europe, and in the Lviv press he acted as a critic and publicist. In the 1930’s, T. Majersky was one of the first avant-garde representatives, who composed his works using dodecaphonic technique.

In 1931 T. Majersky founded the Society of Music and Opera admirers in Lviv, and in 1939, with the coming of the Soviets, he became one of the first professors of Lviv State Conservatory. Majersky, as a teacher, with the deepest gratitude is referred to by Andriy Nikodemovych, who recalls: “When I was studying composition, I was assigned into the piano class of Professor Tadeusz Majerski. Getting to know this great personality and musician was a turning point for me. The piano classes with him helped me cure my sick arm and I started playing again. A few years later, I finished my piano course and, thanks to to my professor, started to perform as a pianist” [18]. Even in such a completely mundane profane activity of the teacher a purely sacred content can be traced.

Professor Majersky unveiled the possibilities of organ practice for Andriy Nikodemovich. Apart from his studies in Lviv, Tadeusz Majersky also studied at Leipzig. However, Majersky did not betray Lviv even in the Soviet times, when the communist ideologists accused the composer and teacher of formalism when he was persecuted and subjected to political repressions [17]. Majersky concentrated his composer’s ideas in the field of purely instrumental, non-programme music. Along with the avant-garde features in some of the works, folkloric inspirations are also side by side. A high acclaim among the organists won the cycle of T. Majersky’s “Four Works for the Organ”, recorded on CD by Valery Korostelyov, Lviv organist in 2007.


  1. Tadeusz Mahl (1922 Lviv – 2003 Kraków).

One of the outstanding organists and contemporary composers, Tadeusz Mahl, in his creative work, was able to combine the sacred and profane in an extremely flexible and convincing way. T. Mahl lived in Lviv only until 1946, but he never stopped lovingthe city of his childhood and youth throughout his life. Here his aesthetic views and his maturity as a composer were formed. In Lviv, he wrote his first works, among which the oratorio “Stabat mater” (1945) stands out. The love of his hometown he expressed towards the end of his age. He dedicated his symphonic poem “My City” (1991) to Lviv, and his 6th Symphony (1997) was in a sense inspired by Lviv allusions. Therefore, evaluating the role and significance of Tadeusz Mahl’s creativity, Polish scholars rightfully refer to him as a representative of the group of Lviv-Kraków composers [10].

Among T. Mahl’s compositions the works of organ solo and ensembles with the organ occupy the most prominent place. And this is not surprising, because Mahl was truly an outstanding organist. Undoubtedly, the impetus towards the formation of Mahl as an organist and composer was his studying at the Lviv Music School (in particular under Adam Sołtys), as well as the fact that he worked as an organist at St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral in Lviv. Immediately after the end of the Second World War, T. Mahl moved first to Szczecin, and then to Kraków. However, French musical culture exerted the decisive influence on the personality of the musician and the formation of Mahl’s composer style. At the end of the 1950s, as a scholarship grantee he leaves for Paris. But he faces a choice: either to follow the fashion of avant-gardism (which then prevailed in Poland), or to seek his own way [19]. T. Mahl’s choice did not fall on the rejection of traditions through a radical renewal of the musical language, but on a renewed comprehension of post-romanticism in the organ sound. Therefore, in his Parisian studies he focused on the composers-organists Cesar Franc, Camille Saint-Saëns, Charles Vidor, Louis Viern and Gabriel Fore, and, of course, the polyphony of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Among the entire creative corpus of T. Mahl’s works are 6 symphonies, 4 symphonic poems, 9 concerts for various instruments with the orchestra. This includes Concert No. 6 for the organ and two orchestras – the big band and the string one. Nevertheless, from all of Mahl’s works his 7 organ concerts stand out as well as his 22 works for the organ-solo and the Requiem for mezzo-soprano, baritone, mixed choir and the organ (1981) [11].

All the creative life of Tadeusz Mahl can be divided into 3 periods:

1) the neoclassical period (the 1940s – 1950s), where, as a result of the achievements of his youth, towers the first concert for the organ and symphony orchestra (1950). This work, according to B. Rutkowski, became a vivid example of how difficult it is to combine a multi-timbral organ palette with orchestral sound. Only in tutti these self-sufficient antipodes find a common language. Therefore, the critic even suggests titling this work “Sinfonia concertante” [11, 66];

2) the sonoristic period (the 1960s – 1970s), in which Mahl refers to various musical instruments in the genre of concert, but again the central place occupies music with the organ. This is a triple Concerto for two pianos and the organ (1971);

3) the postmodernist period (since 1975), in which T. Mahl gives preference to religious motives or to the elements of Podhale folklore. Most of this time, he composes for the organ solo. In this, one can detect a fine maneuvering between profane essence and sacred spirituality.

According to researchers, the organ creativity of Tadeusz Mahl takes its roots in improvisation, just as the texture of the piano works of Chopin lies under the fingers [10, 142]. “His Concerts are marked by an unconstrained narrative, contrasts between quick passages and meno mosso, which are most often associated with ritardandi and accelerandi, the contrast of sequences of toccata-like or fast sequences, recitative ad libitum, and cadenza constructions” – a professional characteristic of the formal and structural layout of this composer’s language given by the researcher of organ music R. Koval [11].

The organ creativity of Tadeush Mahl today occupies a very special place in contemporary music and is important not only for Polish culture, but also for Ukrainian one. Critical notes of Tadeusz Mahl, as well as his publications on the development of organ art, have been repeatedly published in the Lviv and Kraków press. This is mentioned in the directory “Society of supporters of Lviv and the south-eastern lands”. The latest information on this subject was published in Kraków in 1995 [16].


  1. Andriy Nikodemowych (01.1925, Lviv – 28.01.2017, Lublin, Poland).

While for T. Mahl the skillful balancing between the sacred and the profane comes naturally, for another prominent Lviv composer Andriy Nikodemovych, sacredness is probably the decisive feature of all his creativity. Ukrainian-Polish composer, teacher, pianist and organist Andriy Nikodemovich, as believed by the international music community and critics, was the leading creator of religious music from among all the contemporary composers [12; 6].

He was born in Lviv, where he lived, worked and created until 1980. The relationship of religion and music constitutes the basis of his work. In the center of his attention is choral, orchestral and chamber music, works for the organ and various ensembles. He created almost 40 spiritual cantatas. If we were to realize that half of his creative life the composer spent in a country that led a ruthless and irreconcilable struggle against religion, then there is no need in the explanations of the ideological, ethical and moral orientation of this outstanding creative person. All these qualities along with musical talent Andriy Nikodemovych acquired during his childhood and youth, in the family of the famous Lviv architect and professor of the Polytechnic Institute Marian Nikodemovych (1890 – 1952).

Before the Second World War, A. Nikodemovych studied the piano and organ. He even worked as an organist in the Sisters Karmelites’ church from 1939 to 1940. From 1943 to 1947 he simultaneously studied chemistry at the Lviv University and music subjects under the guidance of the leading Lviv composers: composition with Adam Sołtys and the piano with Tadeusz Majerski. From 1947 to 1950, Nikodemovich works as an organist at the Church of Mary Magdalene, and from 1951 to 1973 he teaches composition, theory of music and the piano at Lviv Conservatory.

The first recognition of his compositional talent came for A. Nikodemovych in 1961, when he was awarded the Third Prize at the All-Union Composers’ Competition in Moscow. In the 1970s the name of Lviv composer Andriy Nikodemovych is in the top ten most prominent ones according to UNESCO. However, having refused to renounce his religious beliefs, he was dismissed from his work at the conservatory in 1973 by the communist authorities and deprived of any livelihood, and the entire composer’s work by Nikodemovych was banned.

During the next seven years this outstanding contemporary composer earned his living thanks to private lessons. He, for whom Lviv remained a home city for his lifetime, moves to the Polish town of Lublin [16]. Here Nikodemovych teaches at the University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska and at Lublin Catholic University (KUL). His creative achievements were acknowledged by the Awards of St. Brother Albert (1981), President of the City of Lublin (1999), the Polish Composers’ Union and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage (both in 2000). In 2008, Andrzej Nikodemowicz [polish spelling] becomes an Honorary Citizen of Lublin.

In its turn, the Independent Ukrainian State fully rehabilitated the name and work of this famous Lviv citizen. In 2003, Lviv Music Academy gave the composer the title “Profesor honoris causa”. His works are constantly heard in the concert halls of Lviv and other cities of Ukraine. The composer has recently come to Lviv several times and participated in his author’s concerts. In April 2016, the fourth festival of classical music “Andrzej Nikodemowicz – czas i dźwięk” (“Andriy Nikodemovych – Time and Sound”) was held in Lublin, the organizers of which consider the composer “The National Treasure” [6]. His religious works, as well as on the previous three cognominal Lublin festivals were performed alongside the most outstanding achievements of classical and contemporary music for five evenings. The 4th festival opened with Andriy Nikodemovych’s Kantata for alt solo and small orchestra “Słysz, Boże, wołanie moje” (“Hear, my God, my appeal”). Sacredness for the composer remained an integral feature of his creativity until the last days of his life. The artistic motto of his life was the glorification of God.


  1. Organ music by Bohdan Kotyuk.

Lviv composer Bohdan Kotyuk (*1951) is a diverse creative personality. But the factor of sacredness in fact dominates in his composer, scientific and public aspects. For him, literally each of the spheres of musical activity is close and interesting, but the technical perfection of instrumental writing is a goal which the composer attains every time when referring to any of the musical instruments. In the attitude of Kotyuk-composer to the technical perfection of writing, to the uncompromising professionalism one captures a peculiar sacral essence of the interpretation of musical art.

This feature is also noted by the researchers of his work [21; 22], and performers – pianists and organists, vocalists and singer-songwriters, flutist and guitarists. Bohdan Kotyuk started writing music as early as a schoolboy. Then his first mentor was a good friend of his parents Andriy Nikodemovych. The faculty of the composition of Lviv Conservatory opened before Bohdan Kotyuk the path to profound mastery of the profession under the direction of the famous authorities of the composer’s craft: Stanislav Lyudkevych – forms analysis and folk art, Roman Simovich – instrumental study and instrumentation, Anatoly Kos-Anatolsky – polyphony and opera drama, Stephania Pavlyshyn – music history and musical-theoretical systems, Desideriy Zador – composition.

In the creativity of Bohdan Kotyuk, spiritual music and sacred themes occupy a significant and prominent place. To a large degree this was conditioned by the family traditions, because the ancestors of the composer were a whole cohort of seven generations of Lviv intelligentsia. Among them was the Archbishop Samuel Cyryl Stefanowicz (1755 – 1858), archbishop (1832 – 1858); doctor of philosophy, historian, ethnographer and one of the founders of the Prosvita Society in Lviv, Julian Tselevych (1843 – 1892); the patriarch of church affairs, the builder and priest Ivan Huhlevych; religious scholar, historian, doctor of philosophy, professor Hryhoriy Yarema; priests of the Greek Catholic churches of Lviv, Zhovkva, musicians from Brody and Lviv, among them the grandmother-teacher of the composer Bohdan Kotyuk, opera singer Olha Huhlevychivna-Yarema.

Therefore, B. Kotyuk absorbed the inseparable unity of religion and music at a subconscious level from the early age. From his very first steps of composing musicspirituality and religious rites came into an inseparable integrity. Similarly, instrumental and vocal music in his creative work always coexist as a whole. Apart from his vocal-instrumental compositions, among which is the church cantata “Chiesa”, as well as spiritual songs, psalms and songs, which are most often heard in the cathedrals of Austria, Germany and Canada, in the last decade Bohdan Kotyuk turns to the traditional organ, used in the Divine Liturgy of the Latin Rite.

However, his spiritual works are not interpreted by the composer in a ritual-religious sense, but rather as a musical embodiment of the ideology of biblical postulates. Maybe that’s the reason why music critics who publish their reviews in the leading German newspapers “Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung” and “Nord Bayerisher Courier” conclude: “Spiritual music of Ukrainian composer B. Kotyuk is a new word in the contemporary interpretation of the role of music in the temple” [22].

In many cases, Bohdan Kotyuk supplies brief essays to explain his concepts to his audience. Such approach is followed in his collection of music pieces for wind and string instruments “Aulos and Kithara”, as well as in his concert pieces “Monaco”, “Drive”, “Pit-Stop” and “DJ”. The composer adds his comments to his Symphonic poems for the organ “Sanctus”, “Bethlehem” (with the narrator or the children’s choir) and “Lauda nostra”, as well as to the organ ricercares –“Benedictus,” “Jericho. Fanfare”, Adagietto “Tet-a-Tet”, “Alleluia” prayers and the epitaph “Way to Heaven”.

According to the theme and ideological and aesthetic contents, all the organ works by Bohdan Kotyuk can be divided into five groups.

  1. 1. The first group consists of purely sacred music, which entirely corresponds to the postulates of religious rituals. These works, even though performed in concerts, can be quite legitimately incorporated into the Holy Liturgy. These are “Sanctus”, “Benedictus”, “Alleluia” (or “Praise to the Lord”), “Laudatis” (or “You are Lord of Honor”), “Ave Maria” for the Pan Flute and the organ.
  2. The second group is the program-religious music: richerare “Jericho. Fanfare” and Symphonic Poem for solo organ “Bethlehem”; as well as chorals for the soloists and ensemble accompanied by the organ “Queen of the Angels”, “Christmas carols for Joseph”, “Rejoyce, Jordan” and “Behold the Heart”. To the same group can also be conditionally attributed the ricercare for the Pan Flute and the organ “Mysteries of Dionysus” (or “Dionysius”).
  3. 3. The third group consists of works, which, though being deprived of a specific programme, call forth certain associative allusions. First of all it is a collection for the organ pedals “Step by Step”, which consists of four pieces: “The Step of the Faraoh”, 2. “Canzona di Venezia”, 3. “Sema. The Dance of the Sufi-Dervish”, 4. “The Slalom. Zugspitze”. Besides, to the third group might also belong Adagietto “Tet-a-tet” for the organ and the celesta (ad libitum), as well as the Trio for the Pan Flute, harp and organ “Eolian Harp”.
  4. 4. A separate place occupies the Concert for the organ “Dona nobis pacem” in three parts, which is rooted in the composer’s thoughts and feelings on the aggression and war in the East of Ukraine. These are contemporary philosophical reflections about the eternal theme of war and peace on our planet for all humanity.
  5. Transcriptions for the organ: 1) fragments from Richard Wagner’s operas published as a separate collection; 2) W. A. Mozart’s operatic arias for soprano and organ; 3) Cycle of 14 Pieces by Camille Saint-Saëns “Carnival of Animals” for organ-solo.

The traditional solemn Grand Mass [Missa solemnis] consists of six parts. SANCTUS and BENEDICTUS, respectively, in such a sequence constitute the 4th and 5th parts of the Mass. They are built on the words of the ancient liturgical anthem, which begins with these words “Holy God the Almighty Lord of Sabaoth” [Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth] and ends with Hosanna: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” [Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini].

But Bohdan Kotyuk interprets these evangelical lines rather as an impulse to the formation of entirely independent instrumental compositions. For him they are either direct correspondences to the Orthodox or Greek-Catholic Liturgy (i.e. Holy and Be the Name of the Blessed Lord), or entirely independent musical works. Therefore, in the concert performance SANCTUS and BENEDICTUS by Kotyuk are stand-alone, non-related compositions. Consequently, they can be performed in a random order.

BENEDICTUS, in the interpretation of Bohdan Kotyuk, is full of lyricism and at the same time the elevation of the Spirit “Song of Gratitude”, or Benedict of the Prophet Zechariah for the birth of his son John the Baptist. In the Gospel of Saint Luke, we read: “You, child, will be called the prophet of the Almighty, for you will come before the Lord to prepare his way” (1. Luke 1:67). Bohdan Kotyuk’s “Benedictus” is David’s hundredth Psalm of gratitude spelled out on the organ.

Bohdan Kotyuk’s “Sanctus” for the organ is not just the words taken from the third verse of chapter six of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah [1. Isa 6:3]: “Holy Lord God of Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of His glory!” This is the viewpoint of a person in the 21st century, for whom “the holiness and glory of the Lord” penetrate both in the intergalactic spaces of the universe and in the elementary particles of the nucleus of the atom … And, besides, they are in the secret depths of human consciousness and subconsciousness. According to their emotional charge and deep essence Bohdan Kotyuk’s “Sanctus” is very similar to the poem Deus Magnificus “The Great Lord” from the collection of poems by Bohdan-Ihor Antonych “Great Harmony” (1932).

LAUDATIS (or “The Praised One”) for a solo organ is a hymn, the majestic Chant, with which the composer first of all addresses the Creator. The LAUDA NOSTRA (or Our Song of Praise”) a symphonic poem for solo organ is a majestic composition in which the author skillfully combines the principles of symphonic development with a purely organic techniques with a timbre palette of apotheosis.

In his organ creativity the composer provides historical and religious content for music fabric. Therefore, B. Kotyuk’s special attention is attracted to those historic places that have a direct bearing on the history of Christianity. Among the different themes we distinguish two: the first one is connected with the Old Testament and the city of Jericho, which became the final destination of the Israeli people led by Moses to the Promised Land. And the second one is the city of Bethlehem, in which the Savior of all mankind Jesus Christ came into the world.

Jericho is the oldest city in the world. It has been continuously peopled for 11 thousand years. In the Bible, this city is referred to as a symbol of majestic achievements. In these events, a special role was played by fanfares (or the ritual Jewish shofar). By means of the loud fanfares of Joshua, the commander crumbled the impenetrable walls of the city of Jericho, the first fortification on the West Bank of the Jordan River in the Promised Land, to which Moses brought his people [1.Book of Joshua 6: 1 – 27].

The fall of the impregnable walls of the city of Jericho has its symbolic significance. The composer seeks to draw a parallel between a Biblical history and the symbolism of the influence of music (in particular organ fanfares) on the destruction of stereotypes and misunderstandings between people with the help of sacred music.

In the New Testament, Jericho is the symbol of “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” [1.Matthew 4: 8]. The Holy Spirit led Jesus Christ after his baptism in the Jordan River towards the desert to Mount Qarantal, overlooking Jericho. In one of the caves of this rock in solitude, prayers and reflections on his mission on earth, the Son of God spent forty days fasting. There he stood against the temptations of the devil. Therefore, Mount Karantal (“Mons Quarantana”, in Latin Quaranta – forty) is also called Mount of Temptation [1.Luke 4:12]. Bohdan Kotyuk’s ricercare “Jericho. Fanfare” is a phonic attempt to convey the greatness of spirit and man’s faith in the triumph of the the Lord’s intentions into the sound of the organ.

Symphonic poems for the organ “Bethlehem” (with the narratator or children’s choir). Bethlehem is a city in which more than two thousand years ago Jews and Arabs lived side by side. Bethlehem was the royal seat of King David. It was from this royal family that St. Joseph the Betrothed came from, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and guardian of Jesus Christ. After the accession of Judea to Syria, the emperor Octavian August (63 BC – 14 AD) ordered the governor of Rome in Judea Quirinium to carry our a census. This was taking place in the Holy Land just at the time when the Savior was to be born. The path of the Holy Family from Nazareth to Bethlehem became an unwilling journey that was conditioned by belonging to the kin. God’s great love of mankind manifested itself in the birth of His Son. The long-awaited message about the Savior did come true. “Today, in the city of David, the Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was born to you” [1.Luke 2: 11].

The impressive symbolism lies in the name of the city of Bethlehem: ית לחם [Beth-lehem] is a “bread house” (in Hebrew); بيت لحم [Beit-Lahm] is a “house of meat” (Arabic). The difficult path through the Jewish desert to Bethlehem, the lack of accommodation for the Pregnant Mary among the citizens, and the birth of the Savior in the manger, the rise of the leading star in the sky, showing the way for the shepherds to the Newborn Son and the Three Magi – this more than dramatic Biblical history was implemented by Bohdan Kotyuk into the program of his Symphonic poem for the organ “Bethlehem”.

The symphonic poem has its distinct dramatic sections. The texture of the first fast section with the highlighted tonality foundation, which should be associated with the Arabic east, is an image of a desert, but the composer also puts into this image a deep philosophical content. This is not only the desert symbolizing compulsory wanderings of the Holy Family, but also a desert that overwhelms human souls in their inability and reluctance to give an adequate assessment of their own sinfulness. It was precisely to reveal the essence of people’s sin that the Lord sent His only begotten Son among people for the sake of enlightenment and for the redemption of their sins. And these sins Christ took upon himself through the Atonement of his Crucifixion.

The second image, contrasting with the melismatic briskness of the desert image, is the chorded and pompous grandeur of the cities and temples built by the hands of the people. The symbolism of this image in the Symphonic poem of Bohdan Kotyuk is in excessive haughtiness and inaccessibility for the common man of Jerusalem’s strongholds, which the Holy Family was passing by, and the closed doors of the Bethlehem’s buildings, which failed to open before the mother of the future Savior.

The vivid contrast in the Symphonic poem “Bethlehem” for the organ with a narrator or children’s choir is the episode of the birth of the Savior in the manger. The lapidary and optimistic nature of this episode is the bright hope of mankind for the possibility of salvation. However, the anxiety and doubt overwhelm this composition: the desert continues to be the devouring trap from which it is so difficult for mankind to break through for millennia.

The deep sacral content of the symphonic poem “Bethlehem” is a kind of philosophical credo of Bohdan Kotyuk, a composer for whom the Spirit, spirituality and high moral values form a single whole.

All of the above-mentioned works were written by Lviv composer Bohdan Kotyuk during the last 10 years in his creative collaboration with organist Olena Matselyukh. They constitute part of her repertoire and are constantly performed at organ concerts at the Lviv Hall of Organ and Chamber Music, in the Lviv Regional Philharmonic, and during the tour of Organists throughout Ukraine and abroad. They are also performed at the concerts of the touring organists from different countries of the world.

The sacred and profane – the unity and interaction.

The sacred and profane are two inextricable wings sustaining the flight of the “Spirit of Music”. Each of them is a direct reflection of human life, both in the past, and in the present. The unity and interaction of these two factors in art is best illustrated by the music created by composers of different epochs for the organ.

In a worldly perception space is homogeneous and neutral. But this does not prevent endowing the individual qualitative characteristics on its individual parts, such as parent’s home, home land, and others. Therefore, we can agree with the words of Mircea Eliade “Whatever the degree of desacralization of the universe, a person who has chosen a secular way of life, is not able to completely get rid of religious behavior” [23, 16]. There is nothing in the world that would be sacred in itself and equally sacred to everyone. A profane object, which is secular in its utilitarian purpose, can receive a sacred status, if it moves close enough to the field of sacred meanings associated with its owner.

Among the achievements of civilization, especially when it comes to Ukrainian territories, worthy of attention is the elevation of the organ building art to the heights of European level, as well as the works of composers and organ concerts in Lviv in the 19th the first half of the 20th century. The names and achievements of composers and organists of the Lviv Organ School should rightly occupy a worthy place not only in Ukrainian musicology, but also in the history of world music culture. This is especially true of the depth of the philosophical factor of sacredness and its interpretation in the conditions of modern innovative technologies and textual muli-interpretations.

There is nothing more sacred,” Eliade says, “than a meaningful life[23]. Man perceives the sacred as a universal structure of consciousness. At different times it manifests itself in different ways, but always from the standpoint of realizing one’s owe Self in life. And in art, it has its own dimensions both sacred and profane.

Thus, the interaction and complementarity between the factors “sacred” and “profane” is a problem that requires further and thorough research. Art critics and critics at large have already worked out certain criteria for establishing the features and boundaries between these concepts in relation to architectural monuments, iconography and fine arts; in relation to the Holy Liturgy and spiritual texts, as well as to poetry and fiction.

In musical art, which by its very essence has already got an a priori multi-faced dimension, such clarity and clarity is still lacking. This primarily concerns modern Ukrainian organ art, which has only recently begun to restore its status of elitism. Ukrainian musicology still lacks specialists in religious ritualism, which still provides a kind of insight into the world of the sacred. It is this factor of sacredness that greatly inspires composers’ music for the organ. Such professional knowledge would allow many contemporary Ukrainian composers to better understand the boundaries of the sacred and profane in organ music. Using these important categories in the analysis of organ music must become an integral part of the scientific apparatus of the musicologist-researcher. Therefore, the relevance of the research and the professional manipulation of the factors of sacredness in composer’s creativity is obvious.



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Olena Matselyukh                       Curriculum vitæ, CV

Olena Matselyukh is the leading Ukrainian organist. She is a soloist of the Lviv Organ and Chamber Music Hall, as well as a soloist of the Lviv and Rivne Philharmonics. She holds her concert tours throughout Ukraine – from Donetsk, Dnipro, Odessa and Berdyansk to Chernivtsi, Vinnytsia, Lutsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Letychiv, Khmelnytsky, Berehove, Stryi, Sambir and Mostyska, close to the Polish border. As an organist she constantly tours in Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

In 2017 Olena Matselyukh, one of the best interpreters of Johann Sebastian Bach, opened the Bach Festival in Brno (the Czech Republic) and in Wrocław (Poland). In Poland, due to her talent, Olena Matselyukh is given a warm welcome by her fans at several other festivals – in particular, in “Music in Old Kraków”.

Approbated in numerous concerts, the long-term and diverse creative work of organist Olena Matseliukh is recorded on her CDs “Benedictus” and “Amazing Grace”, on composer Bohdan Kotyuk’s CDs “Reflections” & “Mood and Sperits” and on the joint CD “Syrinx” with the performer on the Pan Flute, Ihor Matselyukh.

Olena Matselyukh is also known as a scientist. Her research in the domain of organ art is regularly published in Ukrainian and foreign almanacs, musicology scholarly collections and journals. As a doctoral student of the oldest in the Czech Republic Moravian Palacký University in Olomouc, Olena Matselyuk is to present her doctoral dissertation on “The Sacred and profane in the organ creativity of the composers of Ukraine and the Czech Republic”.

Olena Matselyukh is the Artistic Director of the VI. and VII. International Festivals of Organ Music “Diapazon”, which took place to a freat public acclaim in the Lviv Organ and Chamber Music Hall in October 2016 and July 2017. In the Lviv Philharmonic, she is the founder and director of the International Summer Festival “Pizzicato e cantabile” and International Festival “Music in Old Lviv”. She is the producer and co-organizer of the International Festivals of Organ Music in Rivne and Chernivtsi – “Musica viva Organum 2018”.

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