Creative activity of People's Artiste of the Soviet Union, laureate of State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Gennady Ivanovich Tsitovich is one of the brightest pages of folklore and musical life in Belorussia. He is known as the founder of the oldest, the original choir of Great Podlessia village, organizer and artistic director of the State Academic Folk Choir of the BSSR, folklore researcher and author of certain works on the actual problems of modern folklore, as well as the author-compiler of anthologies and collections of his own folk songs recordings.

 Gennady Ivanovich Tsitovich – is man who is in love with the Belorussian people art  Life itself, a complicated and difficult, as though drained, forged this restless seeker, scientist, subtle and soulful artist.

How did he begin his journey in the art that made him the way we know and love him today? When was determined his love of music? Perhaps it was conceived during long winter evenings, when the family sang wonderful folk songs, a great connoisseur of which was his grandmother. Or perhaps it originated in the years of training in Vilna seminary at the rehearsals of the choir. But most likely "to blame" for this Grigory Romanovich Shyrma and Vilensky schoolboy choir, the inseparable member of which for years was Gennady Tsitovich. He had been loved and knew a lot of Belorussiaian folk songs, but after meeting with the Shyrma, his lectures on literature and folk music, this love has become stronger, more conscious and purposeful.

After graduating from Vilna seminary, Gennady Tsitovich did not continue studies at the Theological academy (the prospect of becoming a priest didn’t attracte him), but despite numerous obstacles and difficulties he entered natural sciences and mathematics faculty of Vilnius University.

However, his interest in music did not die. He organizes vocal quartet, participates in its presentations, creates for it adaptations of folk songs.

And after a while Gennady Tsitovich becomes head of the university choir. The team took an active part in the concerts of a student club, and this is where the young choirmaster met conservatory Professor Tadeusz Sheligovski. Being in love with his work, able to quickly understand the person, he immediately saw in Gennady Tsitovich future musician and strongly advised him to enter the conservatory. So biology student, leaving no classes at the university, becomes also a student at the conservatory.

Records of the Belorussiaian folk songs attracted the young man for a long time. To this matter, he made a number of fascinating folklore expeditions to the surrounding villages, and when the repertoire homes had been exhausted, he takes folklore trips to the Vitebsk region on the river Desna. Thus, prior to his admission to conservatory Gennady had been collected a significant amount of material, which is based on the Belorussiaian folk songs. But he does not only bag, collect them, he also studies them deeply. He is interested in principles of a song construction, the intonation and rhythm body, features of calendar-ritual, love, ballad, household, recruiting, game and many other song genres.

All this has enabled the young ethnographer to read the report already second-year in conservatory and then to publish an article "Belorussiaian traditional Easter songs” (“Белорусские волочобные песни”). A year later, in September 1936 in Krakow weekly “Literary and scientific courier" (“Курьер литературно-научный”) appears an article "Belorussiaian folk music " (“Белорусская народная музыка”), which caused a rather broad resonance, as was devoted to an obscure branch of ethnography, and introduces readers to the architectonics of the Belorussiaian folk songs.

G. Tsitovich continues his folklore expeditions, all the while expanding their geography. He has traveled all over Western Belorussia, visited the most remote villages and hamlets. Where only the folklorist wasn’t met! Always a friendly-minded, cheerful and witty, he was a welcome guest in any home, people were always willing to share with him their art of folk singing. Going from one village to another, he saw and how the Belorussiaian people struggled with violent polonization, sought to preserve their customs, language, songs. With much love, as the most cherished value, Tsitovich collected and recorded revolutionary songs created by the people of Western Belorussia.

In his ethnographic work Gennady Tsitovich did not limite to collect only the Belorussiaian folklore. He was interested in the problem of cross-fertilization of musical cultures of different peoples. Thus, studying Bulgarian folk songs, he made the conclusion that in their construction there is much in common with the Belorussiaian song. The relationship of the Belorussiaian folklore with Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian left neither any doubts.

Later, his observations and studies of different cultures mutual influence were reflected in the articles "Revolutionary folk art of Western Belorussia (1919-1939)" (“Революционное народное творчество Западной Белоруссии (1919-1939)”), "To the relationship of Belorussiaians and Lithuanians in the field of folk music" (“К вопросу о взаимосвязях белорусов и литовцев в области песенного фольклора”), "Ukrainian-Belorussiaian connections in folk music" (“Украинско-белорусские связи в народной музыке”).

In 1939, workers of Western Belorussia were reunited in an integrated fraternal family of the USSR peoples. The Belorussian folk song sounded widely and freely from now on. Ethnographer entries obtained a significant musical and practical value. Composers and music director of amateur talent groups advert to it, famous performers include it in their repertoire.

Being shook on the national choral singing, Gennady Tsitovich advises many amateur choirs, combining this work with managing editor of music programs on Baranovichi Regional Radio Committee. Once he heard on the radio the choir named after Pyatnitsky performance and began to dream about the creation of the Belorussiaian People's Choir. Editorial trip took him to the village of Great Podlessia. There he attended a small local choir, who sang in a purely traditional manner. Gennady Tsitovich realized that this was the true fountain of folk art and it is here where he finds interesting creative work. Since then he began a close and constant cooperation with this team, which served for him as a sort of folk art laboratory.

In 1940002C the choir participated in the regional amateur art review and won the first place. The high artistic level was also confirmed at the Republican review. Podlessky choir stands to participate in the First decade of Belorussiaian Art in Moscow, where it features with great success.

A trip to Moscow brought Gennady Tsitovich belief that he is on the right track, it is not sorry to devote all his life to this activity. But after a year the Great Patriotic War was launched, and only after it’s end Gennadiy Tsitovich restores the team creative image, prepares new concert programs. In 1945, the team participates in regional and national amateur art review and wins the right to demonstrate their art in Moscow again.

The famous Soviet composer M. Koval in the newspaper "Soviet Art" (“Советское искусство”) on September 7, 1945 wrote about the Great Podlessia village choir: “…women sang a lyric song "Oh rechanka, rechanka” (“Ой рэчанька, рэчанька”). Extraordinary beautiful song they sang softly, as if afraid of spilling her wonderful melody, singing with the artistry, which excites and provokes tears of emotion.

A talented choir director G. Tsitovich proved at what artistic level you can raise the farm choir”.

And that’s what the famous Soviet choirmaster A.V. Sveshnikov wrote in newspaper “Pravda” (“Правда”) on September 8, 1945: “Special attention deserves Belorussiaian folk song choir from Great Podlessia village, Baranovichi region (leader G. Tsitovich). This choir is a real pearl of folk art.

Execution of the choir is full of indescribable charm and warmth. Performing techniques of the choir is very high, it has perfect intonation, very expressive nuances”.

At the same time G.I. Tsitovich resumes its folkloric expedition. In his music books are new recordings of folk songs. Among them were old, traditional and created more recently songs.

In 1945, he heard in Pleschanitsy song "Our Land" (“Наш край “) in a much revised and abridged text by K. Buylo. Later, in the choral treatment by Bogatyrev, the song became widely known and widely performed both professional and amateur teams. The same year Gennady Ivanovich recorded in Begoml "Song about Zaslonov” (“Песня пра Заслонава”), and in the village Yurovichy, Kalinkovichi district, another song that immediately became popular. This is cheerful, optimistic "Light moon raised” (“Узышоу свецел месячык”). In Luninets district he recorded "Pinskaja patyzanskaja" (“Пінская патызанская”), and the village Kozlovichi and Timkovichi presented him ditties "About farm life" (“Пра калгаснае жыццё”) and "About partyzans” (“Пра партызан”).

So in the short term folklorist accumulated a wealth of material, which he summarized in his report "The Belorussiaian musical practice today" (“Белорусская музыкальная практика сегодня”).

G.I. Tsitovich is not only a recognized authority in the field of ethnography. He is also a tireless, an ardent advocate of the Belorussiaian culture and exacting artist. In 1952 he became artistic director of the organized State academic choir of the BSSR, mastery of which is now widely known as in Belorussia and abroad.

The organization of a new musical group was connected with great difficulties. The identity of the creative aspect of the Belorussiaian national choir demanded a differential selection of performers while staffing the future team: choir, dance, orchestra selection, as well as hard work to build his repertoire, which, based on Gennady’s Ivanovich belief, should be Belorussiaian folk song.

Because the national songs adaptations for the Belorussiaian folk choir, with its distinct sound and requirements for a choral adaptation was not enough, Gennady Ivanovich is beginning to build concert adaptations for his team. So there appear the famous "River" (“Рэчанька”), "Oh, morning early on Kupala day" (“Ой, рана на Івана”) and others.

Choral adaptations by G. Tsitovich are valuable primarily because he embodies techniques of improvisational folk-singing, naturally-modal harmony and other features of folk music-making. G. Tsitovich was not limited to adaptations of the Belorussiaian national songs. To him belong adaptations of Russian, Ukrainian folk songs. Great assistance he also accorded to amateur composers, creating a choral adaptations of their songs, including "Our Neman" (“Наш Неман”), "I leave, dear Yasu” (“Пайду Ясю мілы “) by P. Shevko,"Indisposed” (“Нездаровіцца “) by P. Kosach and others.

The folk choir repertoire consists original works of Gennady Ivanovich too, written in folk style: "Zosya once" (“Як той Зосі давялося”), "Farm waltz" (“Калгасны вальс”), "Belarus mine” (“Беларусь мая”), and others.

First time before a wide audience appeared People's Choir during the celebration of the 35-th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. And soon in the District Officers' House toke place a team concert with a special big program in two offices.

Music community, the Belorussiaian composers, critics unanimously noted that the team sings pure, ringing tones, has a unique performing style. So folk choir got their start in life, his active creative work: tours in Belorussia and other republics, performances at the crowed song festivals, parades, reviews, by radio, and numerous concerts patronage.

But the most significant event in the creative life of a very young team was participation in the concerts of the Second decade of the Belarusian art and literature in Moscow (1955). On the artistic level of decade concerts of the State folk choir of the Byelorussian SSR eloquently proclaimed numerous reviews in the central press, that unanimously considered the purity of intonation, a beautiful performance of classical models of Belarusian folk songs and a colorful display of folk dances. Thus, newspaper “Pravda” (“Правда”) on February 21 , 1955 in the essay "The singers, musicians, dancers in Belarus” (“Певцы, музыканты, танцоры Белоруссии”), wrote:" In Belarus is widely developed choral amateur performance. From the amateur performance came out the Belarusian State folk choir, established in 1952, under the artistic direction of G. Tsitovich.

The chorus, dance and orchestral groups, which constitute the whole folk choir, staffed by young people - participants of amateur from Mogilev, Polesie, Gomel and other regions of the republic.

Young people brought a lot of vigor and enthusiasm. At the same time there is so much folk wisdom embedded in the execution of simple, straightforward songs of the Belarusian people!

When listening to beautiful lyrical, humorous songs performed by female choir you unconsciously forget that they sound from the stage - it seems that girls are singing somewhere in the field ...

The art of the team is truly popular. Much credit for this made G. Tsitovich, famous Belarusian ethnographer and musicologist ... "

And that's what composer M. Koval wrote about the performing style of folk choir in the newspaper "Soviet Culture" (“Советская культура”) on February 20, 1955: “Early on band creative development you can mark its characteristic manner of execution, which dates back to the Belarusian songs - a light lyric sound, softness semantic interpretation without the emotional "pressure" without sharp contrasts.

Decadal program of the concert showed the increased skill of the choir ... "

In 1957, during preparations for the All-Union and VI World Youth Festival in Moscow, G. Tsitovich have got an idea to create vocal octet by grouping number of chorus artists. Pretty quickly was delineated a new repertoire of the ensemble. It included Belorussian folk songs “River” (“Рэчанька”), “On Danube” (“Пры Дунаёчку”), “Rabshachka” (“Рабшачка”), adapted by Tsitovich, “Wester, wester sun” (“Закаці, закаці ты, яснае сонейка”), adapted by Poplavski, several popular rhyme tunes and others.

And in ten years Gennady Ivanovich fostered another wonderful team - female vocal quartet and gave it the affectionate title “Kupalinka” ("Купалінка”). This quartet immediately received widespread acceptance of music lovers, and eventually became an independent team. In 1968, Gennady Ivanovich Tsitovich has been awarded the high title of "People's Artist of the Soviet Union”.for high performance skills in choir, he led, as well as active musical and educational activities.

He became an active advocate of Belarusian musical art and abroad. Choir and his group toured in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Canada, Bulgaria, Finland, France.

The intense concert activities, as well as the high level of artistic performance stimulate the creation of new repertory works of Belarusian composers for this team. He is the first performer and interpreter of many songs by W. Olovnikov Kuznetsova, Semenyako and other composers.

It is difficult to overestimate the beneficial impact that the Folk Choir makes at the development of musical culture of our country and especially the development of amateur art. Due to open concerts, broadcasts on radio and television, records, team acquired an unusually wide listeners audience. And not only listeners but also members of amateur folk choir, who take from their professional colleagues the style of performance, a rich repertoire of the finest examples of traditional and modern folk songs and dances, works of Belarusian composers.

Since 1974 G. I. Tsitovich sends his duties as acting artistic director of the National People's Chorus of the BSSR to talented choirmaster M.P. Drinevskomu and spent much time on cultural and educational, scientific research: he is taking part in plenary meetings and congresses of the Union of Composers,international symposia and conferences on folklore, directing amateur composers workshops, advising scientific work of young musicologists. He works a lot on radio and television: it creates a cycle of concerts, essays under the general title "Belarusian folk music".

Over the years of his folk-collecting activities G. I. Tsitovich recorded more than three thousand of the best examples of folk music and could form the "Anthology" exclusively from them. However, he has studied more than five thousand printed folk records and more than three thousand from the manuscript collections of the Belarusian ethnographers, selecting from this vast amount of material the most valuable in artistic terms. The main criterion in drawing up the "Anthology" was not only the artistic quality of the tune, but poetic lyrics, striving as much as possible to reveal the diversity of known genres of folk music, to show songs from all over Belarus.

Music material of "Anthology" is divided into two sections: "Songs of the pre-Soviet period," and "Songs of the Soviet era.

In the preface are observed and theoretically justified sequence of the national musical art development processes, a gradual transition from the old traditional to contemporary folk songs, and expansion of its range, rhythmic and melodic evolution.

In comments to the "Anthology" author not only classifies the material by section and explains when, by whom, where and from who is written this or that song, but also indicates the variations in what collections it was printed before, what composers and in what work have been used the song as a melodic material. It is absolutely, that this book section is extremely useful and necessary for musicologists, researchers of Belarusian national music history.

As a scientist, folklorist, G. Tsitovich is interested in problems of national choral polyphony development.To this topic have been devoted such works as “About two-part singing” (“О двухголосном пении”), Podlessky  choir songs collection "Belarusian two-part songs” (“Белорусские двухголосные песни”), a collection "Songs of Happiness " (“Песни счастья”), which contains two-, three-part songs of the Soviet era.

The most important contribution to the national music culture development is a book published by G. Tsitovich “About Belarusian folk songs”, in which most fully reflects the direction of scientific and practical activities of the author. The range of issues covered in the articles of this book is broad and varied. At the same time, they are characterized by internal organic uniamity, which is caused by both the researcher approach to the material and systematic topics disclosure. The essays clearly manifested the author’s creative features: a great love of the Belarusian folklore and excellent knowledge of his latitude, consistency of research findings.

To G. I. Tsitovich also belongs priority in folk music research, where social and cultural life of Belorussian people found a bright reflection. He is the author of essays, articles, which are characterized by deep social analysis, bold generalizations, which are based on a thorough knowledge of the actual material.

In 1978, for the creation of the “Belarusian folk songs Anthology" (“Анталогіі беларускай народнай песні “) and of the book" About the Belarusian song folklore" (“О белорусском песенном фольклоре “) G. I. Tsytovich was awarded  the State Prize of the BSSR.

G. I. Tsitovich creative successes largely due to his erudition, deep and comprehensive knowledge of the people life, sincere and heart friendship with the creators and performers of folk music.

The best holiday for him seems a trip to amateur folk choirs, hi goes often to Ozerschine, Karelichy, Morochi and other villages. But he visits the Great Podlessia most often.

Many years have passed since then, as a talented art director created Podlessky folk choir and raised his singing culture to the level of art.

In autumn 1979 the 40 anniversary of Podlessky folk choir was celebrated in farm club. G. I. Tsytovich managed preparing for the anniversary, and again under his leadership the choir sang a song about it’s native village:

Between broad fields

At the edge of Polesie

In the gardens blooms

Village Podlessia...

And at February 16, 1980 at the general meeting of Podlessky farm workers named after Lenin it was unanimously adopted a decision “On conferring the honorary title "Honoured farmer" to Gennady Ivanovich Tsitovich for many years and active work in collective farming". Thus he became the first Belarusian musicians got this title and is proud of it.

More than fifty years of work has been done, but the thirst for new records, new expeditions, new meetings with interesting people have never left Gennadiy Ivanovich. In the summer he organized a lengthy expedition, chosed a companion of any of the poets, composers, musicologists, or just people who love nature in Belarus, the Belarusian song, wonderful folk artists.

Folk art is always young. And people who are in love with it, surrender themselves wholly to it, do not age.

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