Stefania Turkewich (1898-1977), Ukraine’s first successful female composer, was also a pianist and musicologist. As a musicologist, she studied with Guido Adler in Vienna, and for her dissertation on the topic of Ukrainian folklore in Russian operas she received a doctorate in musicology in 1934 from the Ukrainian Free University in Prague. As a composer, her teachers included Arnold Schoenberg and Franz Schreker, both of whom she studied with in Berlin, and Vítězslav Novák with whom she studied in Prague. After her music was banned in the Ukraine by the Soviets, she fled in 1946, at first to Austria and subsequently to the United Kingdom. Her compositional output encompasses three symphonies, four operas (including the children’s opera Oksana’s Heart which was performed in Winnipeg in 1970), scores for ballet, chamber music, choral works, piano music, and numerous art songs, a collection of which was released in 2014 on the first volume of Galicians, an ongoing series devoted to composers from Lviv initiated by the Ukrainian Art Song Project under the direction of Pavlo Hunka.
Little is known about Turkevych’s fascinating String Quartet featured here in a recording made available through Ukrainian Live Classic which was recently discovered in an archive in Lviv for which the performers are also unknown. It is one of two quartets that she composed sometime between 1960 and 1970 and this recording was possibly made in 1990s.