Lubomyr Melnyk

Lubomyr (Eugene) Melnyk. Pianist, composer, b Munich 22 Dec 1948 of Ukrainian parents, BA (Manitoba) 1969, MA philosophy (Queen's). Lubomyr Melnyk's parents fled the Communist expansion and settled in Winnipeg in the early 1950s.

Melnyk, Lubomyr

Lubomyr (Eugene) Melnyk. Pianist, composer, b Munich 22 Dec 1948 of Ukrainian parents, BA (Manitoba) 1969, MA philosophy (Queen's). Lubomyr Melnyk's parents fled the Communist expansion and settled in Winnipeg in the early 1950s. In the early 1970s he lived for two years in Paris, where he accompanied contemporary dance under Carolyn Carlson at the Paris Opera. During this period and with assistance from the Canada Council, Melnyk developed his original 'continuous music' approach to piano playing and composition - described in his book Open Time: The Art of Continuous Music ([Toronto] 1981) - in which he employs extremely rapid arpeggios of varying duration, repeated with the sustain pedal to generate overtones and sympathetic resonances. The overtones blend or clash according to the harmonic change in the arpeggios - the harmony based on Melnyk's own geometric models - creating a sombre, stately effect. The technique's effect is perhaps most audible in his compositions for two pianos. It is noteworthy that some critics and professional pianists dismiss his work as 'merely fast arpeggios' (evidently missing the essential features of the overtones and resonance in his work) while others praise his originality and depth. The approach has much in common with minimalism.

From the mid-1970s on Lubomyr Melnyk divided his time between Sweden and Canada, and toured in Europe and North America performing his own music. He gave a concert of his works at the Ukrainian Institute in New York in 1989. His Lund-St. Petri Symphony, a work for solo pianist and tape recorder, was premiered at the cathedral in Lund, Switzerland and performed elsewhere in that country and in Norway and France. The work, in three sections, calls for a cumulative effect using tape equipment. The soloist records the first section with audience present, then plays it back while recording simultaneously his performance of the second section, and repeats the process by recording the third section over the mixed recordings of the first and second. Melnyk wrote NIHIL for the Kingston Youth Orchestra.

Melnyk has received commissions from the Canadian Music Centre (Prairie Region) and the CBC, and has returned periodically to Canada to perform in Winnipeg and Toronto. On 25 Feb 1996 his It Was Revealed Unto Us That Man is the Center of the Universe...But Few Can Now Remember (for piano and string trio) was premiered at Toronto's Music Gallery. He refers to his Ukrainian roots in the titles of several of his pieces. His later works, often but not necessarily in the 'continuous mode,' have been described as sombre and romantically melodic.

Selected Compositions

Cleaning Staff. 1976. 2 piano, 2 string quartet, woodwind, 41 cornets, strings. Ms

KMH. 1977, rev 1978. Pf. Ms. Music Gallery Edn MGE-18 (See Discography)

Concert-Requiem. 1978-86. Vn, piano. Ms. Bandura BAN-1919 (See Discography)

Islands. 1978-86. Pf. Ms. Bandura BAN-1919 (See Discography)

The Lund-St. Petri Symphony. 1976-86. 3 piano (3 organ). Ms. Apparition A-0781 (See Discography)

Gifts. 1977. Pf, string orch. Ms

Limits. 1977. Vn, viola, violoncello, piano (piano, violin and/or viola and/or violoncello). Ms

The Fountain. 1978-86. 2 piano. Ms. Private recorder (cassette) (See Discography)

NIHIL. 1978-86. 2 piano, orch. Ms

A Portrait of Petlura on the Day He Was Killed. 1978-86. 2 viola, 2 piano. Ms. 2-Bandura BAN-1942 (See Discography)

The Remnants of a Man. 1978-86. Pf (2 piano). Ms. Private recorder (cassette) (See Discography)

St. Sebastian. 1978-86. Str quartet. Ms

Voyage of the Dawn Treader. 1978-86. Wind orch, piano, percussion. Ms

Poslaniye: To the Living, the Dead, and to Those Yet Unborn (Shevchenko). 1981. V, wind instr, violin, viola, percussion, piano. Ms. Bandura 191-83 (See Discography)

The Song of Galadriel. 1983. Pf. Ms. Bandura BAN-19884 (See Discography)

Legend. 1984. Pf. Ms. Bandura BAN-19884 (See Discography)

Niche. 1988. Pf (2 piano). Ms

Nourish. 1988. Pf (2 piano). Ms

Vocalise No. 12. 1991. Pf (V, piano)

Antiphons 2, 4 and 6. 1993-2002. Pf and str quartet

Runway 3-C. 2001. Pf. Calgary, CMC Prairie Region

Other works, some included on the Special Edition series of cassettes (see Discography)


Further Reading

  • Schulman, Michael. 'Despite all his problems, Lubomyr Melnyk labours on,' Canadian Composer, 117, Jan 1977

    Prokosh, Kevin. "Piano attacked in samurai style," Winnipeg Free Press, 10 Jan 1997