Konstanty Gorski

This talented violinist, gifted composer and deedful musical artist inherited the longstanding traditions of Polish culture. Having mastered the violin in the first Russian Conservatory in St. Petersburg, he later became a prominent figure in the musical world of Ukraine and Russia. Almost three decades K. Gorskienjoyed everyone’s respect in Kharkiv and spent most of his life outside of the Motherland. However, this never prevented Gorski from being a true patriot of his country and people, who devoted his works to beloved Motherland.


KonstantyAntoniGorski[kɔnˈstantɨanˈtɔɲi ˈgɔrskʲi] was born in 1859 in the city of Lida. These were tumultuous times for the Polish people, when the dissatisfaction with the Russian authorities gradually arose in it, which later erupted in the January Uprising. The atmosphere that prevailed in the family had a great influence on the future of the composer. His father tried in every possible way to give children a high-quality musical education. The elder brother played cello, sister played the piano, but the most talented was Konstanty.

Interestingly, after graduating the gymnasium in Vilna, he was sent by thefamily to study in Warsaw, to Apollinaire Kontski, who was a student of Niccolo Paganini. However, Konstanty could studyunder the great master only for two years, because in 1879 A. Kontski died.

Other local teacherscould not interest Gorski. That is why he decided to go to the capital of the Russian Empire to continue his studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory on a class of violin. Finally, this period of life and the knowledge gained there had made him not only into a violin virtuoso, but also seriously increased his level of skillfulness in musical compositions and instrumentation. He learned this from the most authoritative Russian composer of that time – NikolaiRimski-Korsakow.

Years of study under the best professionals quickly brought the result. At that time, Gorski was not only a solo performer, but also carried out the duties of a concertmaster in symphony orchestras, and often worked as a director.

His talent was quickly noticed and promised a brilliant musical career. Even being the best in his domain, Gorski never was presumptuous, but tried to share his talent in every possible way with those who had just taken the first steps in musical art.

An outstanding violinist began to teach at the Department of the Russian Music Society in Penza, and from there he moved to the capital of Georgia – Tiflis (now Tbilisi). It was there that he became acquainted with the extremely popular personality –Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

The fortune favored Gorski, because in his way heconstantly met masters of theirdomains, who praised his talent and gave him recommendations for further development.

In 1890, after an eight-year trip through the cities of Russia and Georgia, Konstanty Gorski arrived in Kharkiv, where remained for twenty-nine years. In the “Short overview of the activities of the Kharkiv Department of the Imperial Russian Musical Society” (Poltavskiy Shlyakh, 30, N. 49.988138, E. 36.218875),there was a pedantic record:”Departed violin teacher Shpor was replaced by Konstanty Gorski, a free artist of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, a student of Auer, and on a class of bassoon and flute – Franz Wojciechovich Kuchera was invited, who graduated from the Prague Conservatory and also agreed to play viola in a string quartet. With the invitation of Kuchera, it became finally possible to create from this season on a permanent, in the same lineup, string quartet composed of the teachers of the musical school … “.

In Kharkiv, K. Gorski was extremely popular. In addition to solo performances, he performed with great success in trios (A.I. Horowitz – K. Gorsky – S. Glaser), quartets (his partners were F. Kuchera, S. Dochevsky, K. Brinkbock, E. Belousov, V. I. Slatin, I. E. Bukinik, S. Glaser). Like his colleagues, Gorski considered his main goal to improve musical education, to upbringa music listener and to raise the musical culture of Kharkiv to a high European level.

In the life of the composer, thatwas a time of teaching at the Kharkiv Conservatory (Poltavskiy Shlyakh 30; N. 49.988138, E. 36.218875), directing the symphonic orchestra and taking public activities.Right then Gorski became a darling of all hearts.

Remembering the Kharkiv period of his life, one should also mention his cooperation with the Catholic church (Gogol Street 4; 49.996623, 36.235241).

Konstanty became the headman of the parish;he created and headed the Polish choir. It was he who organized charity concerts, funds from which went to the help of the needy. During such concerts, compositions of Gorskiand other well-known musicians were performed. During that period of his life Konstanty wrote world-famous compositions for religious works such as “Ave Maria” and “Salve Regina”.

Gorski was not only a deeply religious person (his works serve as an evidence of this fact), but also a passionate patriot of his homeland. In particular, he wrote a large number of tunes to poems by such well-known Polish poets as Maria Konopnicka and WładysławSyrokomla. And their creativity had the most vivid patriotic orientation.

The local population received the musical activity of K. Gorski with great enthusiasm. In newspapers in 1903 it was possible to read, for example, following lines:”With great success, on the 21stof October, an annual concert of teachers of the local music school I.R.M.T.,namely pianist R. Genik and violinist K. Gorski, took place. According to a local musical critic, “Mister Gorskiis a talented violinist and director, but even more talented composer, whose work on an opera based on a plot from Polish literature comes to the end, and this art areais not enough appreciated yet. The modest role of the musical school teacher, which requires a lot of time and effort, quartet and symphony concerts with rehearsals and preparation of students for them, ordinary Polish evening parties, in which Gorski is always actively involved, as well as in all the musical affairs of the church, severely hinder hiscreativity. Despite all this, one should not doubt that Gorski will take his placeamong Russian composers that is worth his talent.”

Alas, a terrific scandal connected with the name of Gorski came into the picture. What was the matter?

Karavaichuk was one of the best students of the local music school (PoltavskiyShlyakh 30, N. 49.988138,E. 36.218875)on the class of violin, who learnedfromKonstanty Gorski. He graduated from music school and proved to be a talented director. He formed an orchestra of amateurs and organized repeatedly quite successful symphony concerts – successful from the point of view of both the program and the performance.

After the death of the famous Kharkivdirector, F. Kuchera,Karavaichukbecame the head of the student orchestra of the Kharkiv Institute of Technology and was doing his work well, having received positive, well-deserved testimonials from his former professors (including the director of the school I.I.Slatin and his teacher K. Gorski).

It was then that Konstanty recommended Karavaichuk (artistic pseudonym –Karavaiev) to his brother Jan Gorskito take him to Tiflis, where Karavaichuk should become his assistant, the second director. Against the background of directing, a jealous conflict broke out. Jan Gorskidid not succeed, while young Karavaichuk attracted all attention of the public.

The situation ended with a break –Karavaichuk was forced to leave. The next summer, Sevastopol City Council invited Karavaichuk to takethe position of director of the summer season orchestra, which Jan Gorskialso wanted to take.

In order to discredit Karavaichuk, Jan published a negative article in the Crimean Herald and was supported by his brother in this affair. Konstanty placed in the same newspaper a review about Karavaichuk, in which he negatively described his student and his musical abilities.

Karavaichuk exposed this tawdry tale in aKharkiv’s newspaper “South Region” in order to rehabilitate himself. Fortunately, this infamous incident did not have fatal consequences for the young musician. Although the Sevastopol administration summoned Karavaichuk to provide explanations on this case (based on letters of Jan Gorski, which looked like a libel) and wrote a request to the director of the musicschool, the place of the directorwas givento Karavaichuk.

In any case, the attitude of the Gorski brothers to him illuminates the provincial musical life of the Russian Empire. In the end, Konstanty Gorski left the teaching staff of the Kharkiv Music School.

The scandal was so grandiose that it was described in many periodicals. After these events, Konstantin Gorski continued to engage in music, but newspapers only mentioned empty theatre halls during his performances.

Hard-hitting events of 1917 influenced the further life of the musician. Due to the fact that during the civil war it was difficult to continue creative activity, Konstanty decided to return to Poland with his family.

At first, arriving in Warsaw, he worked as a cinemabackground pianist(at that time cinematograph was mute) at the film theatres “Colosseum” and “Vodeville”. However, after a while, he received an advantageous offer to become a concertmaster at the Grand Theater in Poznan, named after famous Polish composer Stanisław Moniuszko.

In 1927, that is, three years after the death of Gorski, his opera “Margier” was performed on a big stage. Another work by KonstantyGorski, Organ Fantaisie F minor was first performed only in 1920 by Anthony Karnashevsky at the Warsaw Philharmonic. Three years later, this work was performed by Felix Novoyevsky – during the celebrations dedicated to Nicolaus Copernicus, which took place within the walls of Poznań University. This work of Gorskihas a huge success to this day.

Violinist, composer, and teacher Konstanty Gorski left an imprint both in musical history and on the history of the Kharkiv region. His biography is a vivid example of the fact that no buffets of fate cannot hinder if you have a purpose and a talent.


Sources of information:

1. Konstanty Gorski. Życie i działalność 1859-1924. – Warszawa, 1924

2. [Electronic resource]. – Access mode: https://moniacs.kh.ua/velikie-harkovtsi/grandioznyj-skandal-v-harkove-ili-pozor-konstantina-gorskogo/

3. [Electronicresource]. – Access mode: http://www.ruchmuzyczny.pl/PelnyArtykul.php?Id=1514

4. [Electronicresource]. – Access mode: http://num.kharkiv.ua/doc/gazeta2.pdf


Prepared by KaterynaKolisnyk