Sophia Gubaidulina is celebrating her 70th birthday tomorrow. She is one of the few 20th century women composers to have won world renown. Gubaidulina "discloses the mystery of the sound as the enigma of the human soul," says Vladimir Tonha, famous cellist. Sophia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol, Tatarstan, and finished music school in Kazan, capital of her republic on the Volga, to go on to music college and then the Moscow Conservatory, from whose piano class she graduated. She was a Muscovite up to the early 1990s, when she emigrated. The composer now lives in the environs of Hamburg, Germany. Gubaidulina is one of the renowned Moscow Three alongside Alfred Schnitke and Edison Denisov. All the three innovator composers' music was secret taboo under the Soviet regime. Robbed of official recognition for many years, Gubaidulina, one of the world's most daring music trailblazers, never sought inspiration in any established trend, and pioneered a style all her own, though she acknowledges Johann Sebastian Bach and Anton von Webern as pillars of her perceptions, and highlights Dmitri Shostakovich's impact on her when a beginner musician. "Phacelia", her debut in composition, a subtle lyrical cycle for singer and orchestra, was based on a long poem in prose of the same name by Russian writer Mikhail Prishvin. The several ensuing instrumental pieces--in particular, the Five Etudes for the Harp, Double-Bass and Percussion--showed Gubaidulina a mature maestra of an unique style. A pious Christian, her music of the last several decades has a profound religious message--suffice it to name her pivotal instrumental works, the Hallelujah for the choir, orchestra and discant solo, and From the Book of Hours for the cello, orchestra and men's choir. Sophia Gubaidulina's world renown started in the mid-1980s with the Offertorium, a violin quartet dedicated to Guidon Kremer, who played its premiere. She is among the most welcome and memorable presences in the movieland, with incidental music for more than twenty films.
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