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Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, No 1, p.48-68

Title: Sofia Gubaidulina – Umění jako manifest intuice a víry
Author: Lenka Kiliç

Abstract: “The whole world is threatened by spiritual passivity, an entropy of the soul, a transition from more complex energy to a simpler form… amorphousness. What puts the brakes on that process is the human spirit and in part, art and that is a matter for serious music.”
Sofia Gubaidulina

The music society will commemorate and celebrate Sofia Gubaidulina’s eightieth birthday this autumn.
Sofia Azgatovna Gubaidulina was born on October 24, 1931 in Chistopol near Volga. She studied piano playing and composition at the Kazan Conservatory. In 1954 she changed for the Moscow Conservatory and became a student of Nikolay Peyko, Shostakovich’s student, and Vissarion Shebalin. At first she presented herself to the Moscow cultural society as a composer and piano performer of her own pieces, occasionally she collaborated on film music. This experience enabled her to experiment and equipped her with considerable skills. After one year in the Moscow experimental studio for electronic music she founded an improvisation group Astreja (together with Vyacheslav Artyomov and Viktor Suslin) at the beginning of the 1970s, exploring new technical and audio possibilities of traditional folk and ritual instruments from Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia.
The performance of her first violin concerto Offertorium by Gidon Kremer in 1981 in Vienna stood for a break to the West, in spite of obstacles from the conservative Composers’ Union. Together with Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov and Valentin Silvestrov she has represented the Soviet faction of New Music, characterized by a synthesis of New Music, early music from the era of several centuries ago and Russian folklore. In 1993 the composer decided to move to a small village near Hamburg for good.
Sofia Gubaidulina has dedicated all her life to composing and music. She hasn’t been teaching, she hasn’t been conducting, she hasn’t been giving lectures, concentrating fully “only” on her creation.
Regarding her choice of topics she has approached mostly religious themes. She does not avoid modern poetry (Tsvetaeva, Elliot) or ancient poets (ancient Egyptian verses, work by Omar Khayyám). Her goal is to combine sense and sensibility into something new, a spiritual whole. She utilizes Latin, Italian, German as well as Russian lyrics. Contrast is a structural element frequently used in many of her works. She resembles Anton Webern in impeccability of form and concentration of utterance. She searches for depth and mysticism of sound, she carefully builds and considers the architecture of a music form. She uses a wide range of rhythmical systems, articulation structures (e.g. variable usage of bows at strings, or usage of inhalation and expiration at bayan) and non-usual acoustic possibilities. She comprehends the rests equally important to particular note durations, similarly to the contrast between silence and sound. According to her the rhythm is the basic creative principle today, a structural element. Besides the original 12-note material Sofia Gubaidulina uses the quarter tones and other micro-intervals, often both layers juxtaposing and thus stressing their divergence. All this is always justified; there is a symbol, utterance, philosophical or religious implicit meaning hidden behind. Chromatic system – a symbol of darkness, diatonic system –  a symbol of light, the divinity. The composer denies traditional tonal centres and triads in favour of clusters and intervals resulting from interactivity between melodical lines. The maximal possible utilization of instruments reveals her activities in improvisation group Astreja, experience with electronic music as well as co-operation with performers during the process of composition. She confirms that it is still possible to find something new in the realm of acoustic instruments.
Thanks to the work of Sofia Gubaidulina the listeners return to their human origins, to truth and spirituality. And we need it in the present world more than anything else.

Year: 2011, Volume: 37, Issue: 1 Page From: 48, Page To: 68

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