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January 24, 1862

Ostap Nyzhankivsky was born on January 24, 1862, in Drohobych. As a young Galician priest, he made his mark in music. He initiated and organized choral concert tours throughout his home region in the 1880s and 1890s; established and conducted the Boian Society's choirs in Berezhany (1892), Lviv (1895-1896) and Stryi (1900-1914).

The Rev. Nyzhankivsky founded the Muzykalna Biblioteka publishing house in 1885 and compiled a Ukrainian songbook (published in 1907). Also a composer, his choral works "Hulialy" (They Danced) and "Z Okryshkiv" (From Crumbs, with lyrics by writer Yuriy Fedkovych) became very popular, and he wrote many arrangements of folk songs for solo voice or choir, and a cycle of kolomyika melodies for piano.

During his sojourn in Stryi, he met the influential lawyer Yevhen Olesnytsky, who by that time had set up the local Prosvita society and a savings and loan association. At Olesnytsky's urging, the Rev. Nyzhankivsky founded the first cooperative dairy in nearby Zavadiv. In 1907, the two activists hooked up with Lev Horalevych and Ivan Bachynsky and established the Provincial Home and Dairy Union in Stryi, which grew to become Maslosoiuz.

By the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, thanks to the Rev. Nyzhankivsky's work as director, the union represented about 100 small dairy unions. All told, they collected some 7.5 million liters of milk from Ukrainian farmers and produced about 300,000 kilograms of butter annually.

In 1908, the Rev. Nyzhankivsky took the plunge into political life, and was elected as a deputy to the Galician Diet, holding office until 1913.

As one of the underpinnings of Ukrainian self-reliance in Galicia, the Dairy Union was frequently a source of friction with Polish authorities. As hostilities escalated between Ukrainians and Poles in the post-war period, the Rev. Nyzhankivsky was arrested, then summarily shot by Polish authorities, in May 1919, near Stryi.

Sources: "Maslosoiuz Provincial Dairy Union," "Nyzhankivsky, Ostap," Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Vol. 3 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993).

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, January 21, 1996, No. 3, Vol. LXIV

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