Composer Sofia Gubaidulina, born in Chistopol, at the Tatar Republic of the ex-Soviet Union, in 1931, of a Tatar father and a Russian mother, began her musical studies at the Conservatorium of Kazan, and later specializes in composition with Nikolai Peiko at the Conservatoire of Moscow, where she gets her music degrees under the tutelage of Vissarion Shebalin.

A resident in Moscow until 1992, this same year she moves to the city of Hamburg, in Germany, where she will settle.

Her work in the field of composition is characterized by the tactile exploration and improvisation based on the folkloric elements typical of the Caucasian, Russian and Asian cultures, using several ritual instruments that the artist has collected together with the ensemble Astreia, of which she is a co-founder, with her friends Victor Suslina and Vyacheslav Artyomov, in 1975. 

The composer, experimenting with musical tempo and these instruments, attains sonic responses that up to then had been unknown to any musicians, in a creativity that takes the best advantage of all the tools available to it, from the most traditional to the most avantgarde.

Likewise, this special interest to compose that has taken her to international recognition, has been stimulated by her particular personalization and internalization of the Western techniques typical of the New Music, that the artist has absorbed fast enough, this being a typical trait of all the composers in her country and generation, in a post-Stalin era that gave way to these Western influences in the cultural universe of these countries. On the other hand, Gubaidulina has a tremendous faith in the mystic proprieties of music. All this will no doubt be reflected on her music.

Due to her particular conception of musical creativity, the artist was not very well regarded by the Soviet musical authorities, even though several performers supported her music, up to the point that in the early eighties it would become internationally known in the Western world, mostly thanks to the efforts that to this end made Gidon Kreme, with his enthusiastic defense of her violin concert "Offertorium".

Among her works mention must be made of her several symphonic and choral pieces, two cello concerts, various string trios and quartets, several compositions for an ensemble of percussion, and a considerable amount of works for unusual instruments and combinations of instruments. In her scores the composer explores unconventional techniques in the production of diverse sounds. 

Since she obtained the permission to travel to the Western countries in 1985, Sofía Gubaidulina's recognition as a New Music composer has grown in a spectacular way. After being commissioned several works from the prestigious Festivals of Berlin, Helsinki, and Holland, the Congressional Library of the United States, as well as many other organizations and ensembles all over the world, in 1991 she participates in the Turin Settembre Musica Festival, besides her taking part in other events all over Europe, Russia, Japan, and North America.

Gubaidulina is a member of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin and the Freie Akademie der Kunste in Hamburg, among other associations. Also, she has been awarded the Prix de Monaco (1987), the Koussevitsky International Record Award (1989; 1994), the Premio Franco Abbiato (1991), the Heidelberger Kunstlerinnenpreis (1991), the Russian State Prize (1992), the SpohrPreis (1995), the Praemium Imperiale (1998) and the Sonning Prize (1999), among others.

ESSENTIAL WORKS: Orchestra: "Aus dem Stundenbuch" (1991); "And: The Festivities at Their Height" ("Und: Das Fest ist in vollem Gang") (1993); "Concert for a Symphonic Orchestra and Jazz Band"; "Figures of Time" (Zeitgestalten) (1994); "Offertorium" (1980-86); Vocal/choral works: "Halleluya" (1990); Fatseliya (1956); Chamber and solo instrument(s): "Allegro Rustico" (1963); "Concordanza" (1971); "De Profundis" (1978) for soloist bayan; Percussion: "Descensio" (1981); "At the Beginning It Was Rhythm" (1984); "Pari e dispari" (1991).

(By Montse Andreu)

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