He began to pick out his first tunes at the age of five and then escaped from the music school to play football. One day Paradzhanov asked him to steal a street lamp, and then sold him an icon. About the life and the way to the music of the legendary modern composer, work-related moments and actual problems – the way Myroslav Skoryk himself sees it in the section “Who is…” from Opinion.
About parents, childhood, Siberia and the first creative steps
My parents were not musicians. They graduated from the University of Vienna: my father’s qualification was history, my mother’s – chemistry. Then they worked as teachers in Lviv. My dad was also engaged in ethnography. He is one of the founders of the Boikivshchyna community in the city of Sambir. My parents played music: dad played the violin, mom played the piano.
I have been picking out piano tunes since five years old.
When I was six, I had an ABC book with verses. I began to write music to them. On the first day of my studies at a regular comprehensive school, my parents decided to show me to Solomiia Krushelnytska. We came to visit her. She asked me to play something on the piano. I already knew the music notes at that time. I began to play and suddenly stopped. Having said that I will not continue, because the piano hits the wrong note. She realized that I have a perfect ear. The next day I was taken to a music school in the piano department.
In my childhood, I escaped from the music school to play football. When my father found it out, he gave me a man-to-man conversation. He really wanted me to become a composer.
When my family was ostracized to Siberia, I was nine. At night, they knocked and said: get ready. They put us to the cattle-box. The road took almost a month. So many people. We slept on the shelves.
In Siberia, we lived in barracks. We had a small apartment. I lived there with my parents and three more people.
We returned to Lviv in 1955. I entered the composer’s department at the Lviv Conservatory the same year. Because after seven years of school I had no right to enter a violin or piano department.
The system of Stalin’s repressions involved the absence of a system. They could exile or execute a member of the intelligentsia, a nationalist, or even a genuine communist, and everything could be the reason, for example, the desire to take away someone’s housing. The main goal is to make everyone fear, knowing that nobody is protected from the abuse of power.
There was no ten-year musical school or music college. I graduated from an ordinary seven-year music school in two departments – violin and piano. Seven years of music school and ten years of regular comprehensive school then was enough to enter the Conservatory in Lviv.
About life, views and beliefs
I have little to dream about. I do not have any ambitions. Still, I achieved something.
I want more rest. I was a sportsman. I even had some titles. I loved walking in the Carpathians. Did a lot of kayaking.
Now I have one hobby – I pick mushrooms, I go hiking. I even became a specialist. I thought it was safe. As long as five years ago, I went to pick mushrooms in the mountains. Sometimes locals make some traps to get wild boars – veiled holes. A boar falls there and can not get out. And I fell into that hole. I hit the stone with my left shoulder. Broke it. It was two miles away from home. The hole was deep. I got out myself. In two hours I came back home. Then I called the ambulance, they took me to Lviv.
Someone has said that art does not like lazy people, so when it comes to work, I’m responsible for what I wrote, and this does not mean that I will take it easy. In the end, most composers wrote by order basis. Beethoven did, Mozart, too.
It is difficult for the composer to enter another national tradition. Because every place has its own peculiarity. In order to get into the tradition of other people, it takes a dozen years. It is unlikely that this would give a positive result. Even having such an opportunity – I understood that my place is in my country.
I do not know what I’m proud of. It’s not up to me to decide, and it does not depend on me. Let the critics and listeners decide.
I never speak about my dreams. Because I believe: when you tell everyone about your goal, it’s harder to achieve it.
I am a professional. When there is a task – I try to make it. What’s done is done.
I do not wear talismans. But I do not like it when someone wishes me good luck in a particular case. It’s annoying when you have a concert and someone wishes you to play well.
For me, the most important thing is when I see that listeners like the music, that they understand it and even somehow respond accordingly. But it’s not that easy, and you need to have a sense of time, a sense of style and, at the same time, you should know how to make it so that this music found some kind of feedback.
Style is a person, these are not my thoughts. Style is the expression of those emotions that you have, and if you have appropriate emotions, then the style will appear. And also work.
About creativity and work
I do not want to be cynical, but I started because I was asked to write by the performers. The first one was my good friend. We have been friends since childhood; I had a good relationship with her when I was working in Kyiv. We lived in one house and often met, so, in fact, there was an idea to write a cello concert. So I did it…
It does not matter to me whether I am writing to order or just for myself. I’m responsible for what I write and I do not give myself a break. Although sometimes I don’t like the customer, I get rid of all negative bits and pieces and focus.
Sometimes the inspiration comes. But more often it takes a long time to work. Somehow I shared with a journalist plans that I’m going to write a symphony. He made the title: “It will be a symphony!”. Since then, no symphony has been written. Therefore I do not say in advance what I am working on. It lets down, slows down. When you have something to do, it doesn’t go well.
I think in music all the directions of life must be combined: both humor and tough moments.
I have always been interested in folk music. Every year I spent holidays in Boikivshchyna, where I listened to folk musicians, moments from music works and melodies, which I then included in my own ones. There was also interesting Hutsul folklore. I worked on collecting very interesting tunes, playing various interesting Hutsul instruments together with the group. This folklore nicely integrated into my professional music.
I was interested in jazz. Once in Lviv, I created the “Veseli Scrypky” ensemble, where I tried to strengthen Ukrainian music with jazz elements and rhythms. Then there were different songs and styles not in the usual traditional style for Ukrainian song music, folklore, but in the general tendencies of the world and jazz music.
I believe that if a composer is a professional, he must work in all genres.
The composer can never know what he is making. This happens spontaneously. It is never known whether a work will be appreciated by listeners. Sometimes composers say they feel like someone is writing music for them. Maybe that’s not entirely accurate. But there is still something in it. From somewhere you get certain impulses, which then turn into the melody…
About contemporary Ukrainian music, problems and trends
There were different periods in the history of music. The last 10 years have been a kind of shift away from classical music, and over the past five years, we have observed the return of young people to classics. Young people are once again interested in classical music, go to serious concerts, which is very pleasant. Under such circumstances, one can look at this issue with hope.
After the dominance of pop music of a low quality, which has very badly influenced the academic music, now the depths of classical music are of great interest. The youth is beginning to listen to it; A new spiral has emerged – Bach, Mozart, etc., so maybe one day they will listen to us.
Propaganda of Ukrainian classical or academic music is a challenge. It is very difficult to spread academic Ukrainian music in Ukraine, and especially abroad. And this is very painful because we know: when our music appears in some concerts abroad, it gets very good feedback. So it deserves it.
We are not evicted people who have to ask for a handout, and we have the full right to participate in iconic musical projects. Although, there are a lot of obstacles here because it is impossible to “hit” a concert of foreign producers and prove them our right to participate.
I want the state to pay more attention to serious music and to help it financially.
It is difficult for us to break through to other countries because each state encourages its music. But when we succeed in it, we are taken very well. Our musical culture – both composer and performer – is really appreciated by honored foreign critics.
Fans all the time ask me where to look for discs. And I have nothing to answer because there is no serious music in Ukraine in the discography. In the west, there is a lot of it, but it’s hard to come to that market. To do this we need to work on the quality of the records, and we have no studios and no companies that would “promote” Ukrainian academic music.
Unfortunately, now on the Ukrainian stage there is, for the most part, sort of Ukrainian-village music, banal style, which makes no sense.
A banal song style comes back to the scene, which sometimes goes to the worst examples. And it’s sad. Although there are now some quite good examples of modern music. I can say that I like the music of Taras Petrinenko, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk.
Mass tastes and inquiries are getting worse, and it’s unknown what to do with it. Previously, the pop music was not so widespread, and now it has no end.
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel
The publication was collected from numerous interviews, speeches, and appeals of the material’s protagonist.