Somehow unexpected, 2012 became my “Ukrainian year”. It all started with a first visit in April, with four more to come. I met nice colleagues, an interested and dedicated counterpart and I became acquainted with this amazing city of Kiev – or Kyiv, in Ukrainian.
Long and frequent walks in the beautiful parks on the hills above the Dnipro river, magnificent orthodox monasteries, a musician playing Ukrainian ballads on the ‘bandura’… Not to forget the splendid performances at the Opera House and the Philharmonic Hall, and the visits of my wife Anneke and of our youngest son Bernd.
When I first came to Kyiv and stood in front of the famous ‘Golden Gate’ (Zoloti vorota), I remembered a song by the pop band ‘Emerson, Lake & Palmer’ called ‘The Great Gates of Kiev’ which had fascinated me when I was still at high school. It is actually an arrangement of the movement ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’ from the suite ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ (Kartinki s vystavki) of Modest Mussorgsky (the album by ELP had the same name).
The somehow ‘exotic’ sound of the theme, together with the perceived distance of this unknown city had intrigued me and now – more than forty years later – I was standing here! However, I learned soon that it wasn’t Mussorgsky’s ‘Great Gate’ (which was actually a picture at an exhibition of works of the late artist and architect Viktor Hartmann), but Kyiv’s ‘Golden Gate’, which was first built at the beginning of the 11th century presumably by Yaroslav the Wise. Still, I found it quite special how a piece of music could build a – at least perceived – bridge between the past and the present, between imagination and reality.
Stepan Shcherbak playing the bandura at Sofiyskyi Sobor
An amazing performance of Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘The Great Gate of Kiev‘
‘The Great Gates of Kiev‘ by Emerson Lake & Palmer