Fate did not supply us with measures of life.
In vain are Ohms, Amps and Hertz.
And I lived in one human strength
And I lived in one human heart…
Dmytro Zahretsky is an outstanding choral conductor, composer, poet, Honoured Artist of Ukraine, chief choirmaster of the Odessa Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, professor, leader of the student choir of the Odessa Conservatory, founder of the conductor’s choral school in Odessa. His name became famous after the brilliant victory of the student choir of the Odessa Conservatory at the VI World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow (1957, First Prize). But D. Zahretsky’s creative start was formed, rather, as an “exception to the rules” …
Dmiyro Stanislavovych was born on November 8, 1924 in the family of a well-known doctor in Odessa. The family played music a lot and willingly: the father played the piano, the mother had a good voice and sang – to the acquaintances, in the family circle, and especially to the little Dmytro. These were real “lessons of aesthetic education”!
However, in 1937, when Dmytro was 13 years old, his father was repressed, sentenced to 10 years and sent to a camp near Kargopol, Arkhangelsk region. After some time, the doctor Stanislav Zahretsky was allowed to have his wife Raisa Gavrylivna and the son come to the settlement in Kargopol…
This family tragedy did not embitter the future great musician, but exposed his meticulousness in matters of sincerity, honesty of relations, gave rise to distrust in the administrative-command system. And whole the ironic manner of communication of the young man with others showed a rejection of official morality.
In 1944 Dmytro Zahretsky returned to Odessa and entered the Odessa Conservatory and immediately attracted the attention of Professor K. Pigrov – the founder of the Odessa performing choral school, choirmaster, regent, methodologist, the first head of the department of choral conducting. Dmytro Zahretsky had the great respect Pigrov’s attitude and support. In addition, the formation of Zahretsky as a musician was influenced by personal and creative communication with prominent contemporary composers Tamara Sydorenko-Malyukova and Seraphym Orfeyev.
After graduating from the Conservatory, Dmytro Zahretsky headed the choir of the Odessa Philharmonic, which, according to contemporaries, stood out by performing complex pieces of national and foreign classics; and from 1955 D. Zahretsky became the chief choirmaster of the Odessa Academic Opera and Ballet Theater. But the main creative work of Dmytro Stanislavovych was pedagogical work at the Odessa Conservatory, where until 1979 he headed the student choir and educated young conductors – future leaders of choirs.
According to contemporaries, Konstyantyn Pigrov worked brilliantly and methodically with the choir, preserving the traditions and culture of church singing of the St. Petersburg choir, which he was graduated; Dmytro Zahretsky defined an independent way of work – theatrical and picturesque: he was a master of choral crescendo – diminuendo, which were born in the theatrical symphony of the Vienna school, the romanticism of the Ukrainian singing school. The Zahretsky-teacher chose the way of education not of choir singers, but the way of formation of young conductors-choirmasters, conductors-artists.
A gifted, highly cultured musician who had a strong will, a hypnotic gift of influence on the choir, D. Zahretsky had a huge impact on generations of students and teachers of the Choir department. “Phenomenal musical skills,” – writes L. Butenko, – “exceptional memory (all numerous concert programs were conducted only by heart), fine artistic taste, amazing sense of style, crystal honesty, sincerity, uncompromisingness and a special magnetic force attracted to him people of different professions, ages, temperaments … Even during his life, concert activities turned Dmytro Stanislavovych into a legendary conductor, whose popularity and fame spread far beyond the former Soviet Union”.
He spoke little, his favourite saying was: “Less to say – more to do: no choir has sung thanks to the conversation”. These words, of course, should not be taken literally: who, if not him, could convince with a word …
D.S. Zahretsky significantly expanded the choir’s repertoire and continued to work on modern choral pieces, Ukrainian classics; D. Kabalevsky came to Odessa to stage his “Requiem”; Odessa composers wrote music for the choir under the direction of D. Zahretsky: O. Krasotov – “Ode to the Sun”, “April-100”, T. Sydorenko-Malyukova – suites “Forest Amber”, “Blooming Odessa”… The bright page of the repertoire was the arrangements and original pieces by Dmytro Stanislavovych himself: several cycles of romances, unfinished opera “Forest Song” based on the play by Lesya Ukrainka; pieces for choir a capella. Dmytro Stanislavovych very detailed summarised his methods of arranging in a textbook on arranging (co-authored with P. Gorokhov, 1969), and the manuscripts of his works were arranged and published by his student – Professor G. Lioznov in 2012.
Dmytro Zahretsky’s outstanding talent was manifested in everything: a musician of extraordinary gift, an inspired artist, composer, and poet-lyricist. About these facets of the artist prof. G. Lioznov writes: “Zahretsky-poet and Zahretsky-composer were an integral part of the academic-conservative look of the famous choirmaster, one of the youngest professors of the conservatory”.
D.S. Zahretsky brought up more than 50 conductors. “The unique gift of Zahretsky-teacher – writes G. Lioznov – is to create a system of student education, to identify such a gifted student that will not duplicate the discoveries of his teacher.” Perhaps it is thanks to this approach that Dmytro Stanislavovych’s students have such a galaxy of artists: People’s Artist of Ukraine, Hero of Ukraine, Academician, Professor A.T. Avdievsky; People’s Artist of Ukraine, Professor V.M. Ikonnyk; People’s Artist of Ukraine E. Kukharets; Honoured Artist of Ukraine V. Kiosse; Honoured Art Worker of Ukraine, Professor P. Gorokhov; Honoured Artist of Ukraine, Associate Professor, Founder of the Odessa Children’s Choral School “Kantilena” S. Kryzhanovsky; People’s Artist of Ukraine, Professor V. Gazinsky; Honoured Worker of Culture of Ukraine, Professor G. Lioznov; Honoured Artist of Ukraine, Professor L. Butenko and many others.
With dedication to the genius of the outstanding choirmaster Odessa National Academy of Music named after A.V. Nezhdanova launched the All-Ukrainian competition of choral conductors named after D. Zahretsky, which will be held once every two years in November. Contestants will demonstrate technical conducting skills, mastery of the work with a choir – the student choir of the Academy – and mastery of concert performance. The work of the outstanding maestro continues. His life-long love for Choir finds new followers.
Candidate of Art History, Associate Professor, head of the department of choral conducting ONMA named after A.V. Nezhdanova, Eugenia Bondar
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