Ivan Kozlovsky

Ivan Kozlovsky

Ivan Semyonovitch Kozlovsky ( _uk. Іван Семенович Козловський, _ru. Ива́н Семё́нович Козло́вский; also referred to as Kozlovskiy or Kozlovskij) (OldStyleDate|March 24|1900|March 11 - December 21, 1993) was a Ukrainian lyric tenor, one of the greatest stars of Soviet Opera, as well a producer and director of his own opera company, and longtime teacher at the Moscow Conservatory.


Ivan Kozlovsky was born in the village of Marianivka near Bila Tserkva in present-day Ukraine (at the time a part of Imperial Russia) and began to sing at the age of seven in the chorus of the St. Michael's Monastery. He went on to study drama, piano and singing (with the famous soprano Olena Muravyova) at the Mykola Lysenko Institute of Music and Drama in Kiev. He also sang with his brother in Oleksander Koshetz's choir in Kiev. This instruction was cut short after two years, due to the outbreak of the civil war in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Kozlovsky's sang in a vocal quartet under the direction of O. Svechnikov. His voice, however, enabled him to join the army engineers, as a lead singer in a military band.

He made his operatic debut as Faust at the Poltava theatre in 1920 where he sang until 1923. He followed this with engagements at the Kharkiv opera in 1923-4, and the Yekaterinburg (then called Sverdlovsk) opera theatre in 1924-6, before becoming one of the leading tenors at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow from 1926 to 1954. (He had a memorable audition at the Bolshoi in 1924, reportedly reaching the highest notes of the register with ease. Throughout his career, he developed a reputation for singing the highest note possible and hanging on to it for the added adulation.) At the Bolshoi, he came under the mentorship of Leonid Sobinov, the leading Russian tenor at the time. Kozlovsky went on to sing in over 50 operas as the leading tenor of the Bolshoi.

In 1938, Kozlovsky organized and directed a concert ensemble of Opera singers, directing himself in "Werther" by Jules Massenet and "Orfeo ed Euridice" by Christoph Gluck, among other productions. He was awarded the prestigious designation of People's Artist of the USSR in 1940.

He was well-known to have been a favourite singer of Joseph Stalin. Stalin used to invite Kozlovsky to come over whenever he wanted to listen to the sound of his voice, even in the middle of the night. So pleased was he with Kozlovsky's singing, Stalin once kissed him and then himself sang to the piano accompaniment of Kozlovsky. [ These facts were recorded from Kozlovsky own words on March 21, 1981; [http://www.smirnov.fsworld.co.uk/dsketches.html#Kozlovsky see the link (in Russian)] . ] Kozlovsky gained great renown throughout the Soviet Union, but was never allowed to leave its borders.

Kozlovsky had a friendly rivalry with Sergei Lemeshev, another immensely popular Russian opera singer. They both often sang the same roles, and Russian opera lovers were divided into supporters of one or the other. The theatre lobby was a venue for scuffles between female fans jokingly called the "lemeshistki" and the "kozlovityanki". [http://www.peoples.ru/art/music/tenor/lemeshev/history.html]

Kozlovsky married the popular actress Alexandra Herzig (1886-1964) who was 14 years older than him and much better known, causing the public to refer to him as "Herzig’s husband". Later, when he attained greater fame, Herzig became known as "Kozlovsky’s wife". After his first marriage ended in divorce, Kozlovsky remarried, this time to an actress 14 years "younger" than him, Galina Sergeyeva. Sergeyeva played the female lead in the films "Pyshka (Пышкa)" ("Boule de Suif," 1934), "Lyubov Alyony (Любoв Aлйoни)" ("Alyona’s Love," 1934), and "Vesennie dni (Вeceннi днi)" ("Spring Days," 1934). Although she bore him two daughters, the marriage with Kozlovsky did not last long.

Kozlovsky and Ukrainian music

Kozlovsky throughout his life was an active proponent of Ukrainian music performing works by Ukrainian composers Mykola Lysenko, Yakiv Stepovy, Kyrylo Stetsenko, Mykola Arkas. In 1924 he sang the role of Yontek in Moniuszko's "Halka" in Ukrainian. In 1940 he directed the first performance of the Ukrainian opera "Kateryna" by Mykola Arkas, and in 1954 Mykola Lysenko's "Natalka Poltavka". In 1970 he funded the construction of a music school in his home village of Marianivka. He recorded 22 records of Ukrainian folk songs, romances and arias in Ukrainian. Kozlovsky was also the author of numerous Memoirs about Ukrainian singers O. Petrusevych, Mykhailo Donets, M. Mykysh, Borys Hmyria and others.

Kozlovsky and solo performances

Kozlovsky gave many concerts throughout the Soviet Union, singing Russian and Ukrainian songs and romances, as well as German lieder by Schubert, Schumann, and Liszt. He taught singing at the Moscow Conservatory from 1956 to 1980. After 1954, Kozlovsky continued to appear occasionally at the Bolshoi, giving his final appearance in 1970 in the role of Yurodivy (the Simpleton) in "Boris Godunov". He continued to appear frequently in public and even sang on July 4, 1985 at Mark Reizen's 90th birthday at the Bolshoi. The last concert given by Koslovsky took place in 1989 at the Central House of Writers in Moscow. He died in Moscow at the age of 93.


Kozlovsky's voice was distinguished for its beautiful high register and rich palette of shadings. He sang more than 50 operatic roles, and was especially famous as Lensky in "Eugene Onegin", Berendey in "The Snow Maiden", Levko in "May Night", the Indian Guest in "Sadko", Vladimir in "Prince Igor", Nero in the opera by Rubinstein, Dubrovsky in the opera by Napravnik, and so on. He also was outstanding in the western repertoire: "Faust" (Gounod), "Werther", "Rigoletto", "Barber of Seville", "Lohengrin", "Orfeo ed Euridice", "Traviata", "La bohème", and so on.

Asteroid No. 4944 was named "Kozlovskij" in 1987 in honor of Ivan Kozlovsky's career; his famous rival Sergey Lemeshev received the same honor upon his death in 1978.


"They say that Ivan Kozlovsky considered his voice as his one and only possession and prayed every morning thanking the Lord for the priceless gift He gave him..." ("Olga Fyodorova, Music portraits", see the link below)

"Lemeshev is a far more lyric and tender Gherman than those to whom we’ve become accustomed. He and Kozlovsky were long-time rivals; each sings Lensky’s aria, with quite different emphases." ("Stefan Zucker")

"October 31, 2005, 17:31. Monument to known Ukrainian singer Ivan Kozlovsky to be erected in Kyiv (Kiev). This decision was made by Kyiv City Hall. It was decided that Pechersk district state administration is to erect the monument at its expense." ("From the official news")

Interesting facts

Kozlovsky was never allowed to perform in the West because his brother Fedir Smenovych Kozlovsky, who was also a singer, had left Ukraine to tour Europe with Oleksander Koshetz in 1919. Upon hearing of the Bolshevik take over of Ukraine he refuse to return to Ukraine. Fedir became a Ukrainian orthodox priest and lived on the outskirts of New York.


"The Great Russian Tenor - Ivan Kozlovsky": :*Pearl GEM0221, Released February 7, 2005 ADD
"Russian Opera at the Bolshoi: The Vintage Years": :*DVD Region 1 (playable worldwide) #FD2019, Russian, English subtitles. 112m. B& W/Color, Dolby Digital audio.

Tchaikovsky, "Eugene Onegin": :*Melodiya D 0253/60 (1952), D 09377/82(1962), :*Chant du Monde LDX 8088/90, :*Bruno 23001/3, Colosseum CRLP 10270, 80 and 90

Mussorgsky, "Boris Godunov", :*Melodiya D 0305/12 (1952), :*D 05836/43 (1959); Ultraphone 159/62; :*Bruno 23025/7; Colosseum 124/6; :*Period SPLP 554 (1952), 1033
[http://russia-in-us.com/Music/GRV/Kozlovsky/dg_is_ko.htm Also this link]

ound samples

*At this link you can listen to the voice of Ivan Kozlovsky: Dubrovsky's Aria "О дай мне забвенье" - "O dai mne zabvenye" ("O give me oblivion") from the opera "Dubrovsky" by Eduard Nápravník. Recorded in 1952 [http://www.grandi-tenori.org/audio/am/2004_09/kozlovsky_dubrovsky.mp3 (mp3 file)] .
*At this link you can listen to (or download) the tracks of 2 CDs with Kozlovsky performance [http://mcp-music.com/ru/artist/20488/Ivan-Kozlovskij/ 2 CDs] .

See also

*Russian opera



In English:
*(1992). "Guide de L'Opéra", Fayard. (page 427)
*Ardoin, John (1995). "Ivan Kozlovsky, A Voice from Behind the Curtain", in "Opera Quarterly 11". (pages 95-102)

In Russian:
*Kuznetsova, A. "(Кузнецова, А.)" (1964). "People's Artist (Народный артист)", Art.
*Sletov, V. "(Слетов, В.)" (1945). "I. Kozlovsky (И. Козловский)", Art.
*Polianovsky, H. "(Поляновский, Г.)" (1945). "Ivan Semyonovitch Kozlovsky (Иван Семёнович Козловский)", Art.
* Hroshyeva, E. "(Грошева, Е.)" (1960). "40 Years on the Stage of the Opera (Сорок лет на оперной сцене)", Soviet Music.

In Ukrainian:
* Bulat, T. "(Булат, Т.)" (1980). "Ukrainian Folk Songs and Romances in the Repertoire of I.S. Kozlovsky (Українські народні пісні та романси в репертуарі І.С.Козловського)", Folk Works and Ethnography "(Народна творчість та етнографія)" № 3.
* Lysenko, I. A dictionary of Ukrainian singers - Словник Співаків України - Kiev, 1997

External links

* [http://www.vor.ru/English/Music_Portraits/Music_Portraite_04.html Music Portraits]
* [http://russia-in-us.com/Music/GRV/Kozlovsky/ Russia in US]
* [http://www.grandi-tenori.com/tenors/kozlovsky.php Grandi tenori]
* [http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Namedrill?&name_id=22110&name_role=2 Archive Music]
* [http://www.vor.ru/English/MTales/tales_024.html The Rivals]
* [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0468928/ Filmography]
* [http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Kozlovsky-Ivan.htm Biography in English]
* [http://www.belcanto.ru/kozlovsky.html Biography in Russian]
* [http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=8655 CD review]
* [http://www.woman.ru/?Text&ID=42615 The family matters 1]
* [http://www.superman.ru/?Text&ID=41962 The family matters 2]
* [http://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/Герцик_Олександра_Олексіївна On Alexandra Herzig] , from Ukrainian Wikipedia
* [http://www.peoples.ru/art/cinema/actor/sergeeva/ On Galina Sergeyeva]

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