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Ustvolskaya, Galina (Ivanovna)

Ustvolskaya, Galina (Ivanovna)

Ustvolskaya, Galina (Ivanovna), significant Russian composer and pedagogue; b. Petrograd, June 17, 1919. She studied at the arts college affiliated with the Leningrad Cons. (1937-39) and composition with Shostakovich and Steinberg at the Leningrad Cons. (1940-41; 1945-47), where she pursued postgraduate training with G. Rimsky-Korsakov (1947-50). From 1948 to 1977 she taught composition there. In 1992 she was awarded the Artist’s Prize of Heidelberg. During the Stalin era, her music was rarely performed; although never officially condemned by the Soviet state, her compositions were accused of being difficult to understand, “narrow- minded/’ and “obstinate/’ Shostakovich defended her against such accusations and held her in such esteem that he sent MSS of his own scores to her for comment. He quoted from the finale of her Clarinet Trio (1949) in his String Quartet No. 5 and in his Suite on Verses of Michelangelo. Ustvolskaya’s early music was marked by a Romantic Russian manner, but she later developed greater melodic diversity and harmonic complexity, with occasional usages of serial techniques. Some of her works are of vast dimensions. The spiritual qualities of many of her scores are a welcome complement to their startling dissonances and rhythmic drive.

Works

(All 1Stperf. in Leningrad unless otherwise given): orch Concerto for Piano, Strings, and Timpani (1946); 5 syms.: No. 1 for 2 Boy’s Voices and Orch. (1955), No. 2, True and Eternal Bliss,for Voice and Orch. (1979; Oct. 8, 1980), No. 3, Jesus, Messiah, Save Us! (1983; Amsterdam, Jan. 18, 1995), and Nos. 4 and 5 (see CHAMBER ). CHAMBER : String Quartet (1945); Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano (1949; Jan. 11, 1968); Octet for 2 Oboes, 4 Violins, Timpani, and Piano (1949-50; Nov. 17, 1970); Violin Sonata (1953; March 5, 1961); Grand Duetfor Cello and Piano (1959; Dec. 14,1977); Duet for Violin and Piano (1964; May 23, 1968); Composition No. 1: Dona nobis pacemfor Piccolo, Tuba, and Piano (1970-71; Feb. 19,1975), No. 2: Dies imefor 8 Double Basses, Percussion, and Piano (1972-73; Feb. 14, 1977), and No. 3: Benedictus, Qui Venufor 4 Flutes, 4 Bassoons, and Piano (1974-75; Dec. 14, 1977); Sym. No. 4, Prayer,for Contralto, Trumpet, Tam-tam, and Piano (1985-87; Heidelberg, June 24, 1988); Sym. No. 5, Amen,for Male Speaker, Oboe, Trumpet, Tuba, Violin, and Percussion (1989-90). P i a n o : 6 sonatas: No. 1 (1947; Feb. 20, 1974), No. 2 (1949; Dec. 14, 1977), No. 3 (1952; Feb. 16, 1972), No. 4 (1957; April 4, 1973), No. 5 (1986), and No. 6 (1988); 12 Preludes (1953; March 20, 1968).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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