Viktor Kosenko – Moldavian Poem op. 26
(23 November 1896, St. Petersburg – 3 October 1938, Kiev)
Almost completely forgotten today, Viktor Stepanovych Kosenko (Віктор Степанович Косенко) was considered one of the leading pianists in Europe during his lifetime and one of the most renowned composers of the Soviet Union. If at all, today we know some of his pieces for children, which are still popular in Slavic piano schools. During his short creative period, he composed more than 250 works, almost half of them for his instrument, the piano. Stylistically, he moves within the spheres of late Romanticism with clear echoes of Ukrainian and Moldavian folk music, which he never quoted literally, but imitated its characteristics. Doric, Phrygian and Lydian modes permeate his music as well as drones and open fifths, which he adopted from folklore. Influences of Frédéric Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Scriabin are clearly reflected in the work of Viktor Kosenko; Lyatoshinsky or Tchaikovsky can also be heard.
Since birth, Viktor Kosenko was surrounded by music, his mother Leopolda Kosenko played piano and sang, and also composed; his sister Maria also practised piano diligently and later gave him his first lessons. Singing was a central part of the Kosenkos’ everyday life: They played folk songs, choral works or even scenes from famous operas as a family or together with friends in their living rooms. Already at pre-school age, Viktor could play his favourite melodies on the piano by ear, at the age of nine he attempted to play Beethoven’s Pathétique from memory: he had often listened to his sister practising this piece. Thus, not only did Viktor Kosenko have a good memory for music, but also perfect pitch. Following this confirmation of his talent, his parents decided to cultivate Viktor’s talent more intensively. …
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