Music Art

At the origins of higher music education in Kharkiv:
prominent pioneers


The founder and the first president of the Kharkiv Conservatory was Illia Slatin (1845 - 1931) - an outstanding public figure, a talented musician - conductor, pianist, scientist, who received his professional education at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and the Berlin New Academy of Music.

In different years he headed the Kharkiv branch of the Imperial Russian Music Society and music classes affiliated to it, the symphony orchestra, the Music College, as well as the Conservatory converted from the college.

I. Slatin was engaged in educational and organizational activities, invited famous European musicians and teachers to Kharkiv, conducted numerous concerts in the city and abroad with the participation of the symphony orchestra created by him. He was well respected in musical circles and personally knew such prominent musicians as P.Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein brothers, M.Rimsky-Korsakov and others.

In the first academic year 1917-1918, the Conservatory opened by I. Slatin became Alma Mater for 650 students! Thanks to I. Slatin, 30% of students were able to study for free. He also made concerts and student exams open to a wide audience – this wonderful tradition has been preserved to this day.


P.Tchaikovsky with future professors
of the Conservatory

P.Lutsenko with his students


A significant contribution to the history of the birth and further creative life of the university was made by outstanding figures of art – brilliant performers, teachers, scientists. Among them were a pianist, music critic, memoirist Rostyslav Genika (received his musical education at the Moscow Conservatory) who taught until 1922 (then lived and worked in the Czech Republic); one of the founders of the Kharkiv piano school Pavlo Lutsenko (studied and taught in Berlin) who headed the Kharkiv Conservatory in 1920-1921; a pianist, music critic Oleksandr Horowitz, an uncle of the world-famous pianist Volodymyr Horowitz and an outstanding pianist, teacher Regina Horowitz (graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, class of O. Scriabin, popularizer of his professor’s creative work).

S.Bogatyrev with his students


Since 1917, the theory of music and composition were taught by a versatile specialist Semen Bogatyrev (graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory, since 1943 - Professor of the Moscow Conservatory, 1947 - defended his doctoral dissertation without getting a degree of the Candidate of Sciences (now PhD)). The vocal class was founded by Federico Bugamelli, an Italian singer, teacher, composer, conductor, pianist-accompanist (studied in Bologna).

G. Heck

S. Drimtsov

D. Katanskyi

V. Komarenko

V. Goldfeld

G. Hotkevych

I. Dobrzhynets

Classes of wind, percussion, string and folk instruments were part of the orchestra faculty. The flute class was headed by Borys Krychevskyi (studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory), the oboe and clarinet class – by Hugo Heck (German musician, studied in Magdeburg, after Kharkiv he headed the oboe class at the Moscow Conservatory), as well as his student Mikhail Goldstein, the bassoon class – by Karl Brinkbock (studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory).

The French horn class was taught by the soloist of the Kharkiv Opera Kokotov V.A., classes in trumpet, tuba and double bass were conducted by F.Gubichka (he is known to have studied at the Prague Conservatory), trombone – Dmytro Katansky.

The first teacher of percussion instruments class was the musician of the Kharkiv Opera Orchestra Konstantin Baglikov (after leaving the city he worked in the orchestra of the Bolshoi Theater of the USSR).

The Department of String Instruments became an independent unit in 1921. Among the first violin teachers were Victor Golfeld (studied in Brussels and St. Petersburg), Professor E. Goldberg (studied at the Warsaw Conservatory) and Illia Dobrzhynets (graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory); cello class was taught by Liudmyla Tymoshenko (studied at the Moscow Conservatory).

The founding of the Department of Folk Instruments, which became the first specialized department among the country's universities, was promoted by the then rector, a well-known music and public figure, composer, choral conductor, folklorist, performer on several instruments - Serhiy Dimtsov. There were classes of dombra, balalaika and bandura. The founder of the department is Volodymyr Komarenko, a teacher of domra class, conductor, who created the first professional domra and balalaika orchestra in Ukraine. The department is associated with the activities of a unique musician, theatrical and socio-political figure, founder and teacher of the bandura class, composer, art critic, ethnographer, as well as Ukrainian writer and historian Hnat Khotkevych. The balalaika class was headed by Mykola Danshev.

The 1920s were marked by the emergence of several orchestras - the student symphony orchestra (headed by I. Slatin), the orchestra of folk instruments of various composition (headed by L. Haidamaka, L. Sobetsky, B. Komarenko), as well as numerous ensembles.

In the same years, according to archival documents, the possibility of naming the institute after M. Leontovych was discussed (from 1963 to the present day the university bears the name of I.P. Kotlyarevsky).