Ryhor Ramanavich Shyrma
(01/20/1892 - 03/23/ 1978)
The renown Belarusian folklore collector, musician, researcher and conductor Ryhor Shyrma has founded his first Belarusian Choir which eventually grew into renown Belarusian State Academic Choir Capela in 1924. Throughout the years it was a symbol of cherishing and serious collecting and researching of Belarusian musical heritage.
Ryhor Ramanavich Shyrma was born in a simple peasant family on January 20, 1892 in a village of Shakuny near Pruzhany, Brest voblas'. The monument to R. Shyrma shown on the left is in Pruzhany. He had graduated from 2-year teacher courses in Svianciany and taught in Svianciany school. In 1918 he had graduated from Sedlecki Teacher Institute (Poland) and continued teaching. He becomes a teacher in Vilna (today Vilnius) Gymnasium in 1922 and heads Society for Belarusian School in 1928 -1937. Simultaneously he works as one of the editors of the magazine "Belarusian Chronicle" in which he supported formation of young Western Belarusian poets (Western Belarus was occupied by Poland at that time). He aided publishing first collections of poems of such poets as M. Vasiliok, M. Tank, S. Kryvec. For his Belarusian cultural activity he was arrested twice by Polish secret police "Defenzyva" and did time in a famous among Belarusian activists Polish prison "Lukishki". His friend, a composer and collector of Belarusian musical folklore Alyaksandar Kanstancinavich Shydlouski was also arrested and imprisoned by Polish secret police.
Ryhor Shyrma has founded his first Belarusian choir in 1924 in Pruzhany. At the time it was a strong political statement in an atmosphere of forceful polonization practiced by Polish government. In 1926 he had started Folk Capela in Dzialiacichy near Navahradak (Дзяляцiцкая капэла), which exists to this day. After WWII this Dzialiacickaia Capela was restored and headed by Henadz' Ivanacvich Citovich - a renown and very colorful Belarusian musical and cultural figure.
- in Belarusian tradition, is an ensemble, consisting of a small choir and several
musicians, often singing too. You can see a 1920ies shot of such Belarusian
Capela on the left.
Later In 1926, when Ryhor Shyrma started at Vilna Belarusian Gymnasium, he had founded a Belarusian Choir there, too. In 1931 he had founded Great Belarusian Choir under the auspice of Belarusian Student Union in Vilna.
Belarusian Gymnasium Dance Ensemble
When Western Belarus was re-united with Eastern Belarus the State Belarusian Ensemble of Folk Dance and Song was formed on the basis of Shyrma choirs. The ensemble was renamed into Belarusian State Academic Choir Capela after WWII in 1955. Ryhor Shyrma was conducting Capela until 1970. He was a chairman of BSSR Union of Music Composers and a Secretary of USSR Union of Music Composers during 1966-1978. He was also involved in a political life of BSSR, received many orders and premiums.
As a researcher Ryhor Shyrma published his first works in 1925. He had recorded and published the collections of Belarusian folk music and songs: «Беларускія народныя песні» ("Belarusian Folk Songs", Vilna, 1929), «Наша песня» ("Our Song", Vilna 1938), «Беларускія народныя песні» ("Belarusian Folk Songs", Minsk, v. 1, 1959; v. 2, 1960; v. 3, 1962; v. 4, 1976), «Беларускія народныя песні (для хору)» ("Belarusian Folk Songs (For a Choir)", Minsk v. 1, 1971; v. 2, 1973), He was also an author of a collection of articles «Песня - душа народа» ("Song is a Soul of a Nation", Minsk, 1976).
Died on March 23, 1978.
Ryhor Shyrma bio in Belarusian at slounik.org - this page is heavily based on the information provided in this article.
Belarusian Folk Music - our own page with some music samples.
Дзяляцiцкая капэла - founded by R. Shyrma in 1926, Dzialiacickaia Capela carried Belarusian folk music heritage into modern days.
Historical photos from Vilna Belarusian Gymnasium
Scientific Research Laboratory of Belarusian Folklore at Belarusian State University.
Belarusian Folk Music page from A Belarus Miscellany
Folk Choir Capela "Dziannitsa"
Polesskie Zori - student folk musical ensemble of Belarusian University of Transport in Homel.
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