Galina Ustvolskaya

Born: June 17th, 1919
Died: December 22nd, 2006
Country of origin: Russia

Further information:


Galina Ustvolskaya studied from 1937 to 1939 at the Music College in her native St. Petersburg and at the Rimski-Korsakov Conservatory there until 1947. She received an aspirantship there and ultimately led a composition class at the Music College connected to the Conservatory. Her composition teacher, Dmitri Shostakovich, was enthusiastic about her. He repeatedly supported her against the resistance of his colleagues in the Composers’ Union. Alongside Sofia Gubaidulina, Ustvolskaya is considered Russia’s most significant woman composer. Her catalogue of works is highly concentrated, her musical message lapidary and without compromise.

Ustvolskaya’s compositions are “symphonic” in thought, regardless of their actual scoring or temporal scale. She writes an ascetic music carried by an incredible rhythmic energy. The bar-lines are often missing from her scores, resulting in astonishingly asymmetrical polyphonic constructions. Dynamic developments are almost reduced to purely terraced dynamics and marked by extreme contrasts. The predominantly Christian texts set by her are aphoristic and concentrated. Her works bear witness to a strict, independent spirit, an inexorable will and deep religiosity.

© Sikorski Musikverlage

Works by Ustvolskaya are represented by Boosey & Hawkes in the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada) and the Republic of Ireland.