Ukrainian stamp commemorating Mykola Arkas
|Born||Микола Миколайович Аркас
7 January 1853 [O.S. 26 December 1852]
Mykolaiv, Russian Empire
|Died||26 March [O.S. 13 March] 1909
Mykolaiv, Russian Empire
|Notable work||Opera "Kateryna"|
Mykola Mykolayovych Arkas (born 7 January 1853, Mykolaiv – 26 September 1909, Mykolaiv) was a Ukrainian composer, writer, historian, and cultural activist. Arkas was the author of a popular book History of Ukraine (1908) and his most notable composition was the opera "Kateryna".
Mykola received his all-round education in the Law School of St. Petersburg and completed his studies in physics and mathematics at the University of Odessa. After completing his studies (1875–1981), in accordance with the family tradition, he joined the Imperial Russian Navy.
Upon completion of naval service in 1881 Arkas obtained a magistracy in Kherson. In his leisure time he collected and recorded folk songs, also studying the history of Ukraine. His teacher, Petro Nishchynsky, who was a Ukrainian composer, conductor and writer, had an influence upon Mykola; the latter tried to master musical knowledge independently, to develop his composer's skills and writing music.
Mykola Arkas died on 13 March 1909, in Myoklaiv, where he was buried in the family chapel in the town cemetery.
Compositions and other cultural activities
Arkas's artistic contributions include about 80 compositions for solo-singing, vocal ensembles and arrangements of folk songs. His opera "Kateryna" (1890) is the most significant work of Mykola Arkas, adapted as from Taras Shevchenko's poem of the same title. This work brought recognition to Mykola Arkas and became the first Ukrainian lyrical folk opera. Performances of "Kateryna" were a great success, first playing in Moscow by Mark Kropivnitskiy's troupe in 1899, and later in Minsk, Vilnius and Kiev.
Arkas was the founder and chairman of the "Prosvita" cultural and educational society in Mykolaiv. At his own expense he opened a public school that taught in Ukrainian, as the dominant teaching language in schools was Russian.
In 1908 in St. Petersburg, a book by Mykola Arkas – "History of Russia and Ukraine" – was published under the editorship of Ukrainian writer Vasyl Domaniczky. The book was written in Ukrainian.
- In October 1992 in Myoklaiv there was open a monument to Mykola Arkas (by sculptor O.Zdykhovskiy)
- In 2003 a postage stamp was released in Ukraine dedicated to Mykola Arkas
- Dytyniak Maria Ukrainian Composers – A Bio-bibliographic Guide – Research report No. 14, 1896, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, Canada.
- Kaufman L. M. M. – Arkas – Narys pro zhyttia i tvorchist', Kiev, 1958.
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