Galina Ustvolskaya

Galina Ustvolskaya

Galina Ustvolskaya

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Galina Ivanovna Ustvolskaya, also Ustwolskaja or Oustvolskaia (, 1919, Petrograd – December 22, 2006 St Petersburg) was a Russian composer of classical music.

Early years

From 1937 to 1947 she studied at the college attached to the Leningrad Conservatory (later renamed the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatory). She subsequently became a postgraduate student and taught composition at the college. Her composition teacher Dmitri Shostakovich, said of her: I am convinced that the music of G. I. Ustvolskaya will achieve worldwide renown, to be valued by all who perceive truth in music to be of paramount importance.

On several occasions Shostakovich supported her in the Union of Soviet Composers against opposition from his colleagues. He sent some of his own as yet unfinished works to Ustvolskaya, attaching great value to her comments. Some of these pieces even contain quotations from his pupil’s compositions; for example, he employed the second theme of the Finale of her clarinet trio throughout the Fifth String Quartet and in the Michelangelo Suite (no. 9). The intimate spiritual and artistic relationship between the two composers has been compared to that of Schoenberg and Webern.

She was a pupil of Shostakovich from 1939 to 1947 but retained little influence of his style from the 1950s onwards. As a modernist, she had few public performances; until 1968 none of her works were performed other than patriotic pieces written for official consumption. Until the fall of the USSR, only...
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