‘Oy u luzi chervona kalyna’: Origins of the Sich Riflemen song

“Oy u luzi chervona kalyna” (Ой у лузі червона калина) is one of the most well-known Ukrainian folk songs, and it has experienced renewed popularity due to the full-scale Russian invasion. The lyrics are over 100 years old, yet they can just as easily be applied to the events of […]

Hungarian-soldiers

‘Ked’ my pryshla karta’: An Austro-Hungarian Recruit Song

“Ked’ my pryshla karta” (Кедь ми прийшла карта) is a folk ballad from the Lemko region (Lemkovyna or Lemkivshchyna), a mountainous territory that stretches along the present-day borders of Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia. The area that today belongs to Poland and Ukraine was a part of Galicia until WWI, while […]

‘Czerwony Pas’ & ‘Verkhovyno’: The Story of a Polish and Ukrainian ‘Folk’ Song

Today, both the Poles and Ukrainians have a beloved song about the Hutsul Carpathian highlanders, sung in their own languages to a similar melody. How did this come to be? The Polish Story Karpaccy Górale We must first look back at the first half of the nineteenth century. This is […]

Ukrainian Diaspora Vinyl Records

Music is a wonderful way to be in touch with one’s heritage, and so it’s no wonder that Ukrainian music flourished in the diaspora, producing many notable bands who have kept the communities in touch with their cultural heritage. Indeed, it was these recordings of Ukrainian folk songs that really […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Old Hat Shop Signs in Lviv

I came across a lovely prewar photograph of the outside of a hat shop in Lviv. The hand-painted sign reads in Polish “Pracownia czapek – wykonuje po najtańszych cenach,” which means “Hats workshop – produced at the cheapest prices.” In addition to Polish, it includes a Yiddish translation as well […]

Searching for Traces of the Lipińskis in Oleskiy Region

My great (x5) grandparents Feliks and Tekla Lipiński moved to the village of Koltiv (Kołtów) from Lviv in 1811. Feliks was invited by Count Józef Baworowski to his estate in the countryside to conduct his court orchestra. The former landlords, the Starzeńskis, built a beautiful garden house on a high hill […]

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 […]