At the beginning of the twentieth century, due to the appearance of Khotkevych’s bandura, the art of bandura performance reached the peak of its development. The bandurist, writer and cultural figure, Hnat Khotkevych, who lived in Kharkiv, was very well acquainted with the instruments and traditions of the kobzars of Slobozhanshchyna. He himself played on such an instrument – now often called «old-world bandura», mastering it and then he began to pursue virtuosity that went beyond the tradition. Hnat Khotkevych developed a teaching methodology, taught at the Kharkiv Music and Drama Institute, was the music consultant for the Poltava Bandura Capella, and took care to develop a new type bandura for the capella.
The emergence of this new instrument made it possible for professional bandurists to expand their repertoire significantly, and its sound came from the original silver timbre, which was perfectly combined in the ensemble with other instruments and non-musical sounds that the Avant-Garde composers actively included in their own scores. The instrument began to gain popularity in the non-musical environment, an active process of mastering the bandura as an instrument by the urban intelligensia. Solo and ensemble repertoire were created for the bandura and the instrument began to be included in various instrumental ensembles.
There was a llimited number of banduras of the Kharkiv type, mostly in the hands of Khotkevych’s students and the members of the Poltava Capella. When Khotkevych was removed from his position in the 1930s, he was arrested and then shot in 1938, when some of his students were repressed and others ran off around the world; in Ukraine, this method was forgotten, and this unique universal instruments remained in the hands of individuals. After World War II, at the state level, the so-called Bandura of Chernihiv type developed by Ivan Shkliar was introduced, much larger in size and equipped with a system of tonal switches that allowed the performance of chromatic notes and as a result the legacy of Khotkevych was completely forgotten in Ukraine, however it preserved in exile. Today, representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora play on a bandura of Kharkiv type actively implement the traditions of playing the instrument in different countries of the world.
Khotkevych’s Kharkiv bandura is a symbol of Ukrainian musical avant-garde, a new musical paradigm of the early twentieth century, a unique universal instrument. In the work of Hnat Khotkevich the Bandura is a musical «manifesto», the author, changing the design of the instrument and creating a playing technique which he calls «bandura language», expressly declaring that only a new way of playing opens new prospects for the bandura playing movement. And this is possible only with the rejection of the antiquated system of playing, seeing the structural elements in the timbre as the only way out of the musical deadlock, insisting on strict discipline in mastering hundreds of options for sound production as musical material.
Yu.Kytasty, V.Voyt Jr.