Gubaidulina, Sofia Asgatovna (1931--) By Moody, Ivan
Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol in the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, of mixed Russian and Tatar parentage. After graduating from Kazan Conservatoire in 1954, she studied in Moscow with Nikolay Peyko and Vissarion Shebalin, winning a Stalin Fellowship. Her unconventional approach to composition, including investigating microtonal tunings, led to her music being viewed with disapprobation by the authorities. She was, however, given encouragement by Shostakovich, and was able to continue experimenting in her film music.
In 1975 she founded the Astreia, an improvisational group using Russian, Caucasian, and Asian folk and ritual instruments, with composers Vyacheslav Artyomov and Viktor Suslin and, like Schnittke and Denisov, absorbed in a highly personal way new compositional techniques being developed in the West, something that contributed to her being blacklisted as one of “Khrennikov’s seven” at the Sixth Congress of the Union of Soviet Composers in 1979. She was nevertheless championed in Russia by a number of performers, including Gidon Kremer, Friedrich Lips, Mark Pekarsky, Valery Popov, and Vladimir Tonkha. Kremer’s performances of the violin concerto Offertorium were one of the contributing factors to Gubaidulina’s increasing success outside the USSR in the 1980s. She was allowed to travel to the West for the first time in 1985, and has lived near Hamburg since 1992.