The Ballad and Orchestra of St. Nicholas

Ballada o Św. Mikołaju is beautiful song about the sad fate of the Lemkos (a Carpathian ethnic sub-group), who were forcibly resettled from their ancestral homeland in 1944-46 to the Soviet Union, and in 1947 under Operation Vistula to western and northern Poland. Remnants of their homes, churches, and cemeteries still remain in […]

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Reawakening Polish Prewar Urban Music

Late last year I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the atmosphere of Lviv’s interwar music scene at a live performance of a young band from Warsaw, which plays famous tunes from Poland’s 1920-1930s musical heritage. Warszawska Orkiestra Sentymentalna (Warsaw Sentimental Orchestra) comprises a group of young musicians united […]

‘Krajka. W domu’: Forgotten Music from Polish-Ukrainian Borderland

A folk band from Przemyśl — Krajka, together with Ukrainian musicians — released a new album dedicated to the lands that lie along the current Polish-Ukrainian border. “The album contains traditional music from the Polish-Ukrainian borderland, from the regions of Kholm, Lubaczow, Przemyśl, to the Carpathian mountains and valleys. These lands were once […]

Sangre de Muerdago: Interpreting Melodies Once Lost and Found Again

Two regions in the world are named Galicia—the one in east-central Europe that I have dedicated my blog to, and one in Spain’s northwest. Like the eastern Galicia, the one on the Iberian peninsula has a special musical, cultural, and linguistic heritage. Based out of this region is the group […]

DakhaBrakha: Ethno-Chaos Band

DakhaBrakha is an “ethno-chaos” band from Kyiv, created in 2014. They have gained a following around the world, have toured extensively, and have even performed an NPR Tiny Desk Concert and as well as on KEXP. “Having experimented with Ukrainian folk music, the band has added rhythms of the surrounding […]

Burdon Folk Band

Burdon, formed in 2002 in Lviv, is a great example of a band that preserves and promotes folk music, allowing a new generation of people to enjoy and cherish the music of their ancestors. “We’re using acoustic folk instruments for the best reproduction of atmosphere of old dances which didn’t […]

Warsaw Village Band: Preserving the Folk Music Culture of Poland

“Presenting six young people who have created their own version of Polish folk punk! This band has found a welcome in the homes of elderly village musicians who see their traditions disappearing before the onslaught of urban life. They have taken these youngsters under their wing and have taught them […]

Maramaros: ‘The Lost Jewish Music of Transylvania’

“If the real Jewish music of Transylvania is gone, this disc makes sure it will not be forgotten.” – See more here.

Boyko Music: ‘At the Foot of the Carpathian Chain’

My paternal grandfather was born in the village of Lybokhora (Turka District), the “capital” of Boyko instrumental music. His parents, who were from the Sambir and Lviv regions, moved to this Carpathian village in the early 1900s to direct and teach at the local school. This is a picture from […]

Orkiestra św. Mikołaja: ‘From the High Field’

“Z wysokiego pola” (From the High Field) is one of my favorite songs by Orkiestra św. Mikołaja. The melody of the song is Hungarian, while the text is a Polish ballad from the region near Zamość— an ancestral land.  In the early nineteenth century my great 4x grandfather had an estate in Zalesie. […]

‘The Last Hutsul Musical Magician’

I bought my tsymbaly (hammered dulcimer) from the Tafiychuks—a family of musicians and instrument makers that lives in the Carpathian Mountains. Mykhailo Tafiychuk, or “the Last Hutsul Musical Magician” as Cobblestone Freeway dubbed him in this article, makes many different ancient instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, tsymbaly, and duda (Ukrainian bagpipe). […]