National Philharmonic of Ukraine

Vladimirsky Descent 2

The elegant light building of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine that adorns the European Square in Kyiv's downtown is not only one of the most popular concert halls in the country, but also a very interesting monument of architecture.

Incidentally, philharmonic's history started much earlier than its luxurious building appeared. In the early 19th century, musical life in Kyiv was in full swing already: well-known European musicians, including the famous Hungarian composer and pianist Franz Liszt and Polish artists brothers Vesniavskie constantly performed at the fairs, held on Kontraktova Square. And therefore, in 1863, it was decided to open a branch of the Imperial Russian Music Society in Kyiv. The city still hadn't real philharmonic stage, at that.

Meanwhile, the Council of Elders of the Kyiv Merchant Assembly received a permission from the city council to raise a building, where they planned to carry out their Assembly activities. In the year 1882, the elegant two-story stone building was erected in Kyiv's downtown and caught the fancy of its residents and guests right away. Fancy-dress balls, charity lotteries, literary and musical evenings were regularly carried out in its luxurious halls.

Many artists, who performed in the Merchant Assembly House, were amazed by its terrific acoustics. It was due to the fact that the architect who designed the building was not only talented in his field, but also had outstanding flair for music. It allowed him creating the hall, whose amazing sound enraptured both, performing artists and their audience. It is not surprising that in a short time the Merchant Assembly House became Kyiv's main concert venue. Such maestros as Chaliapin, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, and other famous musicians of the time performed on its stage.

However, in the early 20th century, the fortune of the building made a sharp turn. With Soviet authorities' accession to power the Merchant Assembly ceased to exist. The building was first turned into the Proletarian House of Arts, and later it hosted the House of Political Education and the Republican Palace of Pioneers. During the Second World War, when Khreshchatyk was virtually fully destroyed, the building of the former Merchant Assembly escaped destruction by a miracle, but was under the threat of collapse. During Kyiv's main street's restoration in the post-war years it was decided to pull the house down. However, considering its large historical value and the fact that the city had no other hall with better acoustics, city authorities left the house intact.

In 1944, the State Philharmonic of Ukraine, which was founded in the early 20th century and hitherto operated in Kharkiv, moved in the former Merchant Assembly House. The building was thoroughly reconstructed only in the 1990s. Now it is a renovated construction with halls, decorated with gilding, velvet, bronze and marble, and improved acoustic features. Its Pillar Hall having the best quality of acoustics in the capital regularly hosts concerts of chamber ensembles and symphony orchestras, international competitions and festivals.

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