Selivan, Mark A. | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Selivan, Mark A.

Historical Note:

Mark A. Selivan began his musical studies as a youth by learning the mandolin, balalaika, and domra along with the violin. Selivan played the vaudeville circuit with several balalaika orchestras in New York at the Capitol, Strand, and Roxy Theatres. Under the tutelage of the domra player Nicholas Kovac, he began to concentrate his efforts on the domra and beginning to research music, transcribing and adapting it for domra solos.

In 1961, Selivan founded the Balalaika and Domra Society of New York along with Alexander Kuchma and Jack Raymond. Selivan also served as the Director for the Andreyev Balalaika Ensemble, which was the professional arm of the Balalaika and Domra Society of New York. Under his direction, the ensemble recorded two albums entitled Around the Samovar and Play, My Balalaika in addition to regularly performing in New York and its nearby communities. The aim of the society was to encourage and advance interest in balalaika music and revive the balalaika orchestra as envisioned by Vassily Andreyev, who discovered the balalaika in Russia in the 1880s and established it as a concert instrument through virtuoso solo performances and the ensemble he created. The society kickstarted the balalaika orchestra revival in the United States, as a number of different orchestras and performers appeared throughout the country by the late 1970s, leading to the creation of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America in 1978. During this time, the famous balalaika soloist Leonard Davis served as the President of the Balalaika and Domra Society of New York and Walter J. Kasura served as the Music Director in addition to the principal conductor and arranger of the Andreyev Balalaika Ensemble.


"Balalaikas and Domras to Strum at Tully Hall." New York Times. 21 Sept. 1979. p. C8.

"The BDAA Hall of Fame - Mark Selivan." The Balalaika and Domra Association of America. 17 Jan. 2019.

Livingston, Tamara E., and Katherine K. Preston. "Snapshot: Two Views of Music and Class." The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Volume 3: The United States and Canada. Ed. by Ellen Koscoff. Taylor and Francis Group, 2000. 85-92.

Sherman, Robert. "The Sounds of Balalaikas To Vibrate at Tully Hall." 12 Nov. 1976. p. 61.

Note Author: Cory Davis

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