Viktor Kosenko

Viktor Stepanovych Kosenko (Born on November 11 , 1896, in St. Petersburg, Russia – Died on October 3, 1938, in Kiev, Ukraine) was a Ukrainian composer, pianist, and teacher. He had a successful career and is remembered as one of Ukraine’s greatest Romantic composers.


Viktor Kosenko was born in St. Petersburg in 1896. He was the son of a major general, Stephan, who wanted Viktor to follow him in this line of work. The family moved to Warsaw in 1898. His immediate family did not include any musicians, but they liked to sing and improvise at home and organize musical events at their house. [1] He began piano lessons at age six with Ydisky. At age nine he started receiving piano lessons from Alexander Michalowski and Mikhail Sokolovsky.

Kosenko’s older sister Maria received piano lessons as well. She deliberately hid her music from others when she left the house. In one anecdote, she was practicing a Beethoven sonata and hid it from others as usual. However, one day she came home and heard someone playing it – Kosenko was playing it by ear. He had an exceptional musical memory.

Following the outbreak of World War 1, Kosenko’s family moved back to St. Petersburg. Kosenko went to the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and studied piano under Iryna Miklashovskaya and Mikhail Sokolovsky. He showed exceptional talent in sight reading and transposition. He also studied composition.

Alexander Glazunov gave Kosenko a scholarship to study for free on account of his talent. He also gained income from working as an accompanist at the Marinsky Theatre. He graduated in 1918 with a degree in piano performance.

In 1919, Kosenko moved to Zhytomyr in the Ukraine, where his family lived. He formed a piano trio with violinist Vladimir Skorokhod and cellist Vasyl Kolomyitsev, and they performed many concerts from 1919 to 1923.

Kosenko married Angelina Kanepp in 1920. She was a previously married woman with two children. They were poor but charitable, and often shared their food with people from the streets.

In 1921, Kosenko helped to found the Leotovyek Music Society. In 1922 in Zhytomy, he gave his first concert of his own music. He started teaching piano and music theory at the Music Technicum in Zhytomyr. Later he became the director of the Zhytomyr music school.

In 1924, Kosenko moved to Moscow to further his career. Due to conflicts with the Soviet government, Kosenko moved to Kiev. In 1929, he accepted a teaching post at the Lysenko Institute of Music and Drama.
In 1932, he began teaching at the Kiev Conservatory. He taught piano, chamber ensemble, composition, and music theory.

Kosenko died of kidney cancer in 1938. He is buried at the Baikov Cemetery in Kiev.

Musical Style and Legacy

Kosenko is known in Ukraine as one of the country’s greatest Romantic composers. He wrote in a lyrical, national, Romantic style.

Kosenko wrote more than 250 pieces. Of these, over 100 are piano pieces, including preludes, sonatas, mazurkas, nocturnes, and waltzes. He also wrote concertos, trios, quartets, ballads, choral works, symphonic works, folk arrangements, songs for children, film scores, and more.