I had to really search to find a composer for this week. As far as I can tell, we own nothing by any composer starting with U other than a couple of hymns in the songbook. But I don’t know those two songs and didn’t find them particularly interesting. So, I searched online and found Ustvolskaya in a couple of interesting lists. Taking a look and a listen at her music, I wouldn’t particularly search her music out but it does provide quite the contrast to much we have looked at.
Galina Ustvolskaya is a Russian composer who lived from 1919-2006. She studied music early in her life and was studying formally in the Rimsky-Korsakov Leningrad Conservatory when WWII struck. She was forced to put a hold on her studies but did come back to them in 1946. She studied composition. After her studies, she also taught at the same school for 30 years.
Her music is often called austere or stark, harsh or sharp. It is what I studied in 20th century music – abstract, difficult to follow, non-melodic (to my ear). She was accused of Formalism, which is a formal approach to music that leaves the listener apart or lost as far as following the music. It is considered quite abstract and this did not sit well with the audiences of the mid-1900s. She had to create more melodic pieces that audiences could better relate to. Her response was a tone poem Stepan Razin’s Dream.
In the 1950s Russia, music that didn’t fit the expected format or composers that didn’t conform often had a hard time getting their music to the stage. This was true for Ustvolskaya. Her works often spent years after completion on the shelf. Her name and her music became more known in the 1960s and 1970s. She was a sort of cult name in Moscos and Leningrad during the 1970s.
Ustvolskaya lived a quiet life in her hometown of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). She rarely left and refused to leave Russia, even when prompted to do so. She considered her art, her music, as her voice and stuck to her ideals with it, seldom compromising her vision for her works. This definitely left her out of the public eye yet we have an interesting composer to explore today because of it.
Lori, At Home.
Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
O – Offenbach
P – Palestrina and Prokofiev
Q – Quilter
R – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Ravel
S – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, Sibelius
T – Tavener & Tchaikovsky
Featured from last week the letter T…
- T is for Tensegrity over at Our Homeschool Notebook
- Teaching From Rest over at Every Bed of Roses
- Letter T Homeschool Tips from Homeschooling Highway.