Sofia Gubaidulina

Sofia Gubaidulina

A Biography
Michael Kurtz, edited by Malcolm Brown, translated by Christoph Lohmann
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/31/2007
Format: Hardback 17 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-34907-1
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Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina (1931– ) has achieved international acclaim for her unique musical oeuvre which draws on Eastern and Western musical traditions and reflects a deep-rooted belief in the mystical and religious qualities of music.

Kurtz’s biography of Gubaidulina is the first in any language. Based on her papers and extensive interviews with Gubaidulina, her colleagues, and family, the book places her life and the evolution of her work within the broader cultural and political context of the post-Stalin Soviet Union. For the English edition, the text has been revised and updated and a chronology of Gubaidulina’s life and a complete list of her works have been added.

Author Bio

Michael Kurtz is currently working on a retrospective view of 20th-century music presented in biographical portraits of selected composers.


“This is a fascinating biography that places the personal details of Gubaidulina's life and the evolution of her work within the broader cultural and political context of the post-Stalin Soviet Union.”

“. . . Taking a thoroughly biographical tack, Kurtz explains the origins of many of Gubaidulina's compositions . . . He . . . offer[s] accounts of Gubaidulina by colleagues and performers, and these are a rich source of new material on the composer. Including a handful of photographs, notes, a chronological summary, and a list of Gubaidulina's compositions, this book will be useful to those interested in musical culture and religious life in the Soviet Union. . . . Recommended.July 2008”
 — Choice

“. . . a solid piece of work whose straightforward design and clarity of prose (even in translation) will benefit scholar and general reader alike.Vol. 68.2 April 2009”
 — David Haas, University of Georgia

“. . . valuable as the first English-language guide to Gubaidulina. . . . Kurtz has expertly presented us with valuable material . . .Vol. 90.2 May 2009”
 — IVANA MEDIC, University of Manchester

“With this thorough and well-researched biography of the eminent Russian composer Sophia Gubaidulina, author and scholar Michael Kurtz has made a landmark contribution to the growing body of literature on that emergent group of post-WWII composers. Vol. 54.2, Summer 2010”
 — Slavic and East European Journal

“This is an extremely helpful publication for future researchers of Gubaidulina's music. It comes with a detailed chronology, and with a full list of the composer's works. Vol. 89.1, January 2011”
 — Slavonic and East European Review

“Kurtz’s biography gives a good, thorough account of Gubaidulina’s life that is more immediately accessible and less vexing for general readers than for specialists. Yet specialists will find it necessary reading due to the many significant details uncovered thanks to Kurtz’s interviews with Gubaidulina and her associates65.1 Sept. 2008”
 — Notes

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Table of Contents

Preface by Mstislav Rostropovich
Preface to the American Edition
Introduction and Acknowledgments
1. Ancestors
2. Childhood and Youth, 1932-1949
3. At the Kazan Conservatory, 1949-1954
4. At the Moscow Conservatory, 1954-1959
5. Searching for Her Own Way, 1959-1965
6. A Late Artistic Birth, 1965-1970
7. Finding the Legato in the Staccato of Life, 1970-1975
8. Composing and Improvising, 1975-1979
9. "Offertorium"-a Musical Offering, 1979-1981
10. The Rhythm of Musical Form, 1981-1985
11. Travels, Travels, and More Travels, 1985-1991
12. Worldwide Fame-Worldwide Demand, 1991-1996
13. The Center of Life: St. John Passion and St. John Easter, 1996-2004
Chronology of Gubaidulina's Life
List of Works