Famous musical instruments maker from West Ukraine would not trade his mountain life for any attraction of a big city

Mykhailo Tafiychuk, Ukrainian highlander, famous musical instrument maker
Visit to Mykhailo Tafiychyk, 75 years old musician and musical instrument maker (on the picture above), was one of highlights of our family trip to Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine.
Mykhailo is known in Ukraine and Ukrainian communities outside of Ukraine – he is making musical instruments for many Ukrainian musicians and bands, also for musicians abroad.
Mykhailo lives in the town of Bukovets, Verknovyna district, Ivano-Frankivs’k oblast’, which is located in the western part of Ukraine, in picturesque Carpathian Mountains.
The mountain views on the road to Mykhailo’s home are just breathtaking, but it cost us lots of effort to get there. The roads deep in the mountains were mix of rocks and mud, beside, the day of our visit was very rainy, so we were not even sure our rented car is going to make there. Well, we parked the vehicle before the really bad part of the road and walked rest of the way up. But our impressions and emotions from the visit of Mykhailo Tafiychyk were worth to get there.
Mykhailo and his wife live a typical lifestyle of Ukrainian highlanders. They raise cattle, grow vegetables, take care about firewood for winter and enjoy visits of their kids and grandkids (Tafiychyks gave birth to 8 children).
Mykhailo used to work as a blacksmith, but from young age he loved to play music – he is self-taught musician, like majority of folk musicians in Carpathian Mountains. One day Mykhailo tried to carve a pipe from a piece of wood and he succeeds! Since then, making musical instruments, simple ones and complicated ones, like violin, bagpipe, hurdy gurdy, dulcimer, became big Tafiychyk’s passion and every day’s occupation. Back in time, when internet was not invented yet, Mykhailo’s talent and skills as amazing instrument maker were known among amateur and professional Ukrainian musicians by word-of-mouth. Mykhailo’s musical talent became popular after he founded the Tafichyks family folk music band – him and his sons – and they started to appear at the festivals, concerts, on local radio, television and in newspapers. They even recorded one CD.
Now, when Mykhailo is retired, he still makes musical instruments and plays in his family band. Few times in his life he had offers to move to a big city, to be professional musician in orchestras and bands, but he never accepted it. Mykhailo said he wouldn’t trade his simple life in the mountains for any attractions of the city.
What Mykhailo is concerned about is that traditional art of making musical instruments in Carpathians is dying out, so he tries very hard to keep it alive. He passed some of his musical instruments making skills to one of his sons – now his son is specializing in making dulcimers.
In our visit to Mykhailo, he gave us a nice concert, playing all instruments he made – hurdy gurdy, bagpipe, dulcimer, violins. We have recorded pieces from that concert on a video, but all those instruments sound much better when to listen to it LIVE. The sound is nice and clean and fresh; the hurdy gurdy sounds like whole orchestra; and violin, especially one piece back one… Oh my! It is sound so much better than a regular one! My husband and I even wanted to order a similar one piece back violin – despite of that nobody in our family is musician, we wanted to keep a violin like this one as a family treasure. We didn’t order though, but… well, we still thinking about it, especially looking at this picture – yes, this is one piece back violin Tafiychyk made:
One piece back violin made by musical instrument maker from Ukrainian Carpathians
And this is hurdy gurdy he made and carved in traditional hutsul’s style (hutsuls (plural) or hutsul (singular) are ethnic names of Ukrainian highlanders):
Hurdy Gurdy made by talented musical instrument maker from Ukrainian Carpathians
And here are few videos from our visit to Mykhailo Tafiychyk – he is playing bagpipe, hurdy gurdy and one piece back violin. We really enjoyed the performance! Definitely, Bukovets and Tafiychyk’s place is one of the must-see destinations in Ukrainian Carpathians!