Galina Ustvolskaya

*17 June 1919, Petrograd - 22 December 2006, Petrograd

“It is difficult to talk about one’s own music ... my ability to compose music unfortunately does not coincide with the ability to write about it. There is, by the way, a commonly held view which says that the two are mutually exclusive ...” Galina Ustvolskaya

Galina Ustvolskaya was a restless creator. The elemental and the simple are just as characteristic in her music as the crazy outburst, the cry from the deepest soul. With idiosyncratic instrumentations she explored new combinations of sound. Examples include Composition I: "Dona nobis pacem" (1971) for piccolo, tuba and piano or Composition III: "Dies Irae" (1973) for 8 double basses, wooden cubes and piano. In her 6 sonatas for piano (1947-1988) Ustwolskaja pursued an uncompromising path with her pianistic materials for decades. Her Concerto for Piano, String Orchestra and Timpani from 1946 marks the beginning of her involvement with the piano.

“All who really love my music should refrain from theoretical analysis of it ...” Galina Ustwolskaja

Discover the PIANOVERSAL listening tips with piano music by Galina Ustvolskaya!


 PIANOVERSAL Hörtipps: Galina Ustvolskaya

“My works are not, it is true, religious in a liturgical sense, but they are infused with a religious
spirit, and to my mind they are best suited to performance in a church, whithout scholarly
introductions and analyses. In the concert hall, that is, in secular surroundings, the music sounds
different ...”

“With regard to the Festival of Music by Women Composers I should like to say the following:
Can a distinction really be made between music written by men and music written by women?
If we now have Festivals of Music by Female Composers, would it not be right to have Festivals
of Music by Male Composers? I am of the opinion that such a division should not be
allowed to persist. We should only play music that is genuine and strong. If we are honest about it,
a performance in a concert by Women composers is a humiliation for the music. I hope very much
that my comments will cause no offence – what I say comes from my innermost soul ...”

Galina Ustwolskaja


Concerto for Piano, String orchestra and Timpani (1946)
Pavel Serebryakov -  piano; Chamber Orchestra of the Leningrad State Philharmony, recorded 1970
The pianist Pavel Alexeyevich Serebryakov (Серебряков, Павел Алексеевич, 1909–1977) was an extraordinary pianist and teacher. He performed the world premiere of this piano concerto in Moscow, 1967.

Grand Duet for cello and piano (dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich) (1959)
Mstislav Rostropovitch, cello; Alexei Lubimov - piano

Trio for clarinet, violin & piano (1949)
Reinbert de Leeuw - Klavier, Vera Beths - Violine, Harmen de Boer - Klarinette

Sonata for piano No. 6 (1988)
Marino Formenti - piano

12 preludes for piano (1953)
Marianne Schröder - piano




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Galina Ustvolskaya: Composer of the Week No. 28 / February 2019



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