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Volodymyr Ivasyuk’s 75th birth anniversary. Remembering the voice of Ukrainian identity

#UWC news
March 4,2024 861
Volodymyr Ivasyuk’s 75th birth anniversary. Remembering the voice of Ukrainian identity

Today marks what would have been the 75th birthday of the iconic Ukrainian composer and poet Volodymyr Ivasyuk. 

A trailblazer in Ukrainian pop music, Ivasyuk’s life was cut short at just 30 years old. Yet, in his brief lifetime, he left an indelible mark, composing 107 songs, 53 instrumental pieces, and providing music for numerous plays.

His masterpiece, “Chervona Ruta,” rose to such acclaim during his lifetime that it became akin to a folk song. Other hits like “Vodohrai,” “I’ll Go to the Far Mountains,” “Hat,” and “Song Will Be Among Us” continue to resonate widely in Ukraine and beyond, a testament to his enduring legacy.

Born in Bukovyna, Ivasyuk faced scrutiny from the Soviet authorities from a young age, with his family under KGB surveillance. Despite this, his talent shone through, and at just 21, his performance of Chervona Ruta in Chernivtsi catapulted him to national fame, eventually making him a superstar throughout the USSR. His records were produced in millions, a reflection of his immense popularity.

However, his relationship with the Soviet government was fraught. His refusal to use his music for communist propaganda and to write songs in Russian, stating simply, “Because I am a Ukrainian,” caused consternation in Moscow.

Tragically, on April 24, 1979, Ivasyuk disappeared after leaving his Lviv home for the conservatory; his body was later discovered in a nearby forest. While his death was officially ruled a suicide, many believe, including a 2019 conclusion by the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise, that the KGB killed him.

In the face of a totalitarian regime, his funeral in Lviv turned into a massive, unsanctioned rally, leading to arrests and constant surveillance at his grave. Ivasyuk’s music, embodying the spirit and identity of the Ukrainian people, became more than just melodies; it was a voice of national consciousness. His songs continue to hold a special place in the hearts of Ukrainians, a testament to a genius who truly captured the soul of his nation in music.

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