Story of Shamo

On May 29, Kyiv celebrated City Day. Even under martial law, Kyivans crowded the streets of the capital to celebrate this holiday. Traditionally, the festivities began with the official anthem of Kyiv, which was heard by almost every Ukrainian. This is a song, the music for which was written by Ukrainian composer Ihor Shamo, it is called "My Kyiv" (Kyeve miy)

Who was Ihor Shamo? How did you live and work? Why did he love Kyiv so much?
From childhood, the parents noticed their son's talent: he loved to sing melodies, and later began to draw. He was sent to the first Ukrainian specialized music school named after Lysenko. There he studied with famous musicians.

The war forced the family to evacuate to the Russian city of Ufa, where Ihor graduated from medical school and went to the war as a soldier. He went through the whole war and was wounded, but there he met his love and later married. The couple had two children: a son and a daughter.

After demobilization, Ihor Shamo entered the Kyiv Conservatory in the composition class under Professor Borys Lyatoshynskyi. Student, warrior, and young father, he received an increased scholarship. And only later did he learn that Professor Lyatoshynskyi paid his own money for his scholarship.

Ihor Shamo was a man of contrasts. Very polite and even shy. Certainly being aware of himself and knowing his worth, he addressed all people gently and correctly, never raising his voice. But in his professional life he was very demanding: having an absolute hearing, he sought the ideal in the performance of his works.

The composer was very fond of his hometown Kyiv, and his car "Volga", which he carefully cared for, in which the family often drove around the city or went to the country in Koncha Zaspa. Ihor refused the offer to move from Kyiv because he knew the city as well as himself: he loved its history, and old streets, and often arranged tours of little-known places in the capital for foreign guests.

Ihor Shamo is the author of three symphonies, piano works, music for up to 43 movies, and over 300 songs. He worked very fast. He could even write a piece without an instrument. The musician developed his own very recognizable song style, which was famous for its vivid melodies with folk intonations. Therefore, many listeners often considered his songs to be folk songs.

Several documentary films have been made about Ihor Shamo during Independent Ukraine, which tell about his life and heritage, show excerpts from some fragments of his folk opera, and mention many warm memories of the maestro from his contemporaries. One of these pictures is publicly available on the Internet - the film "Ihor Shamo. Postlude” directed by Yuliya Lazarevska.

Text by Maks Lunin
Portret of Shamo by Hlib Rachmanin
Translation into English by Taras Demko.
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