There was a time when Sofia Gubaidulina was the most revered contemporary composer in the world. If her current waiting list for commissions is now somewhat shorter than it used to be, this is likely due to the simple fact of her now venerable age – thirty years older, almost to the day, than Brett Dean. Earlier this year, however, Gubaidulina’s newly composed triple concerto had its first performance, with her beloved violin alongside cello and bayan in the leading roles. The bayan is the Russian accordion, which has a little less vibrato but more bass than its European cousins. The accordion, says Sofia Gubaidulina, was her first musical discovery; as a little girl she could not stop listening to the wandering street musician in her Soviet home of Tatarstan.

At the Moscow conservatoire, her teacher was none other than Dmitri Shostakovich, who, with great admiration, rounded off her studies with the words, “I wish you luck in always following the incorrect path.” Gubaidulina would persevere as a musical dissident in Soviet cultural life, composing film music as her bread and butter, while embracing the underground life amongst like-minded avant-garde, improvising musicians. Here she also cultivated her fascination for a vast range of instrumental sounds, which she experiences on a spiritual level.

Gubaidulina is a soulful artist, free from the ironic sarcasm that often characterises twentieth-century Russian music. Her international breakthrough came with Gidon Kremer’s launch of the violin concerto Offertorium, Gubaidulina’s gift to the requisite gods of Bach and Webern. The subsequent thirty-five years have seen a steady flow of compositions, often encompassing a deep spirituality. She has never had the desire to write an opera, however; that would be far too much of this world!

/Camilla Lundberg


Concerts with music by Sofia Gubaidulina
Dancer on a Tightrope | Wednesday, September 20, 12:15 pm, Palladium Malmö Read more
Signs, Waves, Heat | Wednesday, September 20, 9:00 pm, Klubb Krinolin at Grand Öl & Mat Read more
Forever Contemporary | Friday September 22, 6:00 pm, Palladium Malmö Read more
Moment and Eternity | Friday, September 22, 9:00 pm, St Petri Church Read more