In Lviv, you can see the ancient tradition of playing the surma – an ancient Ukrainian musical instrument, now replaced with the trumpet. Every day in the window of the southern side of Ratusha (Lviv’s City Hall), over the main entrance, city residents and visitors can see a uniformed person who performs the music – surmach. He plays the instrument daily at 12 pm and 6 pm, and on the weekend at 12 pm, 2 pm and 6 pm.
From the 15th to 20th centuries, a surmach read royal decrees aloud, alerted citizens about the threat of invasion, fire in the city, and notified them of the main holidays. Currently, the sound of surma informs Lviv residents and the tourist about the exact time.
Originally, surma was a traditional woodwind musical instrument, used in the Ukrainian Cossack army. In Lviv, it was an element of maintaining the city’s security and notification about notable events. The instrument was played by surmach, who was a servant of the Lviv’s city government. The tradition of playing the surma was abolished in 1932, in order to cut the budget expenses, and revived again in 2011, in the twentieth year of Ukrainian Independence.
By Vitalii Holich
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