Ustvolskaya ~ Composer ABCs

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.

Blessings,
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…

This Week over at Our Homeschool Notebook the topic is LEGO ABCs: U is for Unicorn 
This Week over at Our Homeschool Notebook the topic is Uniquitous Homeschooler

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12 thoughts on “Ustvolskaya ~ Composer ABCs

  1. Desiree W. September 9, 2021 at 2:49 am Reply

    I am impressed that you found someone with the Letter U! I don’t imagine a lot of names in the world start with U. So interesting!

    • 3gigglygirlsathome September 9, 2021 at 3:51 pm Reply

      Definitely not a common letter for names here in the US, for sure.

  2. Ellen September 10, 2021 at 12:57 pm Reply

    You’re right. Stark…dark. I didn’t hear any melody line either. Definitely an uncommon style for me to listen to.

    • 3gigglygirlsathome September 11, 2021 at 9:38 pm Reply

      I find it a good challenge to listen to things that are different than what I like.

  3. […] from Chareen at Every Bed of RosesUnit Study Round-Up from Chareen at Every Bed of RosesUstvolskaya: Composer ABC’s from Lori at At Home: Where Life […]

  4. […] Composer ABCs in this series:A – Leroy AndersonB – Bernstein, Bizet, BaxC – CoplandD – Debussy and de MeijE – ElgarF – FauréG – Grainger and GinasteraH – HolstI – IvesJ – Joplin and JanacekK – KernL – LisztM – MussorgskyN – NelsonO – OffenbachP – Palestrina and ProkofievQ – QuilterR – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, RavelS – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, SibeliusT – Tavener & TchaikovskyU – Ustvolskaya […]

  5. Whitacre & Willson ~ Composer ABCs | At Home September 22, 2021 at 10:34 am Reply

    […] – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, SibeliusT – Tavener & TchaikovskyU – UstvolskayaV – Vaughan Williams and […]

  6. Xenakis ~ Composer ABCs | At Home September 28, 2021 at 12:38 pm Reply

    […] – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, SibeliusT – Tavener & TchaikovskyU – UstvolskayaV – Vaughan Williams and Villa-LobosW – Whitacre & […]

  7. Yoshimatsu ~ Composer ABCs | At Home October 5, 2021 at 5:51 pm Reply

    […] – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, SibeliusT – Tavener & TchaikovskyU – UstvolskayaV – Vaughan Williams and Villa-LobosW – Whitacre & WillsonX – […]

  8. Annette Vellenga (@athomepets) October 13, 2021 at 10:13 pm Reply

    oh, this was quite different… different enough I think the lad might be intrigued.

  9. Zimmer ~ Composer ABCs | At Home October 15, 2021 at 11:59 am Reply

    […] – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, SibeliusT – Tavener & TchaikovskyU – UstvolskayaV – Vaughan Williams and Villa-LobosW – Whitacre & WillsonX – XenakisY – […]

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