From Shchedryk to the EU anthem: melodies of the Artynov Tower


The clock of the Artynov Tower (Vinnytsia’s main symbol), not only tells the exact time but also plays different melodies every day. They are changed from time to time: for the Christmas holidays or on the occasion of important events. But it was not always like that.

In this article, the official touristic website of Vinnytsia decided to recall the history of melodies that have been played on the Artynov Tower at different times: from Mykola Leontovych’s “Shchedryk” (Carol of the bells) to the anthem of the European Union.

First melodies

Few people will remember, but the first melodies on the Artynov Tower were played back in 2015. The repertoire then included the Anthem of Ukraine, as well as various Ukrainian songs: “Two colors”, “My dear mother…”, “Time flows as the river”, “The mighty Dnipr roars and bellows… “. They were played from the speakers every hour (from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.), and after each melody the clock would chime long. Later, the idea of such musical accompaniment was abandoned, and only the National Anthem was left. It was played every day at 9:00 a.m..

“Shchedryk, shchedryk, shchedrivochka…”

Photo by Vinnytsia Museum

The clock’s musical accompaniment was updated in 2016. That year marked the 100th anniversary of the world’s most popular Ukrainian melody, “Shchedryk“, composed by Mykola Leontovych, a prominent native of Podillia.

The composer worked on the arrangement of this ancient folk song for over 10 years. But in the end, he chose only one version, which was first performed by the Kyiv University Choir under the conduction of Alexander Koshetz in 1916. The success was incredible and later, after the Ukrainian Republican Chapel toured Europe and America, brought “Shchedryk” worldwide fame. A great contribution to the popularity of this work was made by Peter Wilhousky, who in 1936 created an English-language version – “Carol of the Bells”. Since then, the melody has been performed at Christmas almost all over the world, and interpretations of “Shchedryk” can be heard in a number of movie hits.

Photo by Vinnytsia Museum

It is not surprising that on December 1, 2016, this particular melody was heard from the Artynov Tower in the heart of Vinnytsia. Earlier “Shchedryk” could be heard three times a day throughout the year: when the clock on the tower struck 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.. Nowadays it’s played at 6:00 p.m.

Grand music update

In September 2021, on the occasion of the City Day, the Artynov Tower underwent a musical upgrade and was resounding with five melodies at once. The march “Stiah”, “Podolianochka” and “Ode to Joy” were added to the Anthem of Ukraine at 9:00 a.m. and Shchedryk (in a more polyphonic version). All the melodies sound without words, as if they were being struck by bells. The choirmaster Nazarii Davydovskyi and musician Mykola Andrushchenko helped with the arrangement of these melodies.

The march “Stiah” is a popular composition of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921. The music was folk, and the words to it were written by the writer Borys Hrinchenko. In our time, the leader of the band Chorea Kozacka, Taras Kompanichenko reconstructed the march. The Vinnytsia Museum says that the melody for the Vinnytsia Tower was based on this arrangement.

Podolianochka” is a spring ritual song-game. Holding hands, the children lead a round dance and sing, while the “podolianochka” stands in the middle of the circle and gestures to show what the song is about. At the end of the song, she chooses someone from the circle to be her replacement, and the game starts over. Many Ukrainians from different regions associate this spring song with Podillia because of its name.

Photo by S. Oliinyk

Ode to Joy” has been the official anthem of the European Union since 1985. This is the final part of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which was based on Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy”. However, the EU anthem consists only of a melody, and symbolizes not only the EU, but also Europe in a broader sense, with the ideals of freedom, peace, and solidarity.

In September 2021, four new speakers and an amplifier were installed on the Artynov Tower so that visitors to European Square could enjoy good sound. Since then, melodies have traditionally been played at the Tower at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m.

Second music update

In April 2022, after russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, another update of the melodies on the Vinnytsia tower took place. The Anthem of Ukraine, the march “Stiah” and “Shchedryk” were left. “Podolianochka”, which sounded daily at 3:00 p.m., was replaced by “Hey Hey Rise Up” (“Chervona kalyna”), which became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, and at 9:00 p.m., instead of “Ode to Joy” sounds “Prayer for Ukraine” (“Bozhe velykyi, yedynyi…”), a spiritual anthem of Ukraine, created by composer Mykola Lysenko and writer Oleksandr Konyskyi in 1885.

Photo by Vinnytsia Museum

It is worth mentioning a few other facts about “Chervona kalyna” because since 2022 it became one of the most famous Ukrainian songs in the world. When Boombox frontman Andrii Khlyvniuk sang the song on Sophia Square in Kyiv, the video went viral and was covered by dozens of Ukrainian and foreign artists, including the British rock band Pink Floyd, which released a video “Hey Hey Rise Up” dedicated to Ukraine.
The song itself, the first version of which was composed by Stepan Charnetskyi and Mykhailo Kossak in 1914, was the unofficial anthem of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen legion. The Vinnytsia Museum states that more than a hundred years ago, “Chervona kalyna” could well have sounded in Vinnytsia, because in the second half of 1919 the Sich Riflemen were based in the city. Now the melody is heard every day from the Artynov Tower.

Changing melodies for special events

Christmas holidays

Photo by O. Hordiievych

For two years in a row, the Artynov Tower has been temporarily changing its sound during the Christmas holidays. Some of the holiday melodies we have known since childhood, while others are known all over the world. In the winter of 2021-2022, two of the most famous Ukrainian carols were performed: “Dobryi vechir tobi, pane hospodariu” and “Nova radist stala“, as well as the world’s most popular American Christmas tune “Jingle Bells”, and also “Silent Night” (German: “Stille Nacht”), an old European Christmas song that belongs to the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. And, of course, Ukrainian “Shchedryk“.

During the winter holidays of 2022-2023, the same Christmas hits were played from the Artynov Tower, except for “Nova radist stala” (The Anthem of Ukraine was traditionally played at 9:00 a.m.).

Possible EU membership

Photo by Vinnytsia Museum

Another case of changing the melody occurred in June 2022, when Ukraine was granted candidate status for membership in the European Union. This historic event took place on June 23. The very next day, the European flag flew on the Artynov Tower, and during the week, “Ode to Joy“, the anthem of the European Union, was played at 12:00 p.m.

An interesting and little-known fact about the Artynov Tower

In addition to the melodies, every hour during the day the clock on the Tower strikes the exact time. One strike at 1:00 p.m., two at 2:00 p.m., and so on. Since April 2022, a short melody has been playing before these strikes – a reworked and slightly reinterpreted part of the Vinnytsia state radio station’s music jingles that were used on air in the late 1990s.

Now it is possible thanks to modern equipment with speakers and an amplifier. And from 1985 until the 2000s, the sound of the tower’s bell-like chime was created by… a railway shock absorber.

Photo by Vinnytsia Museum

“After the reconstruction of the Artynov Tower in the 1980s, the sounds of the bells were imitated using a device made of a shock absorber from a railway car and a metal hammer,” the Vinnytsia Museum said. “The idea was that the amplified sound from a light hammer striking the shock was very similar to the sounds of a real clock chime. This is how the Artynov Tower got its sound. When the system was set up and everything worked, the clock chimed only during the day. At night, the chimes were turned off so as not to disturb the residents of the residential buildings adjacent to the European Square. Over time, the bell was abandoned altogether. And now this device is kept in the funds of the Vinnytsia Museum”.

Read more about the Artynov Tower, which was built in March-November 1911, here.