MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

The Sublime Galina Ustvolskaya

I’ve been working on notes for an all-Ustvolskaya program at Boulez Saal in Berlin by the Boulez Ensemble (which will likely end up being cancelled, alas). But I’m grateful to be immersed in this world.

Concerning the religious implications of the title Composition No. 1: Dona nobis pacem from 1970-71, Semyon Bokman writes:

The large-scale movement toward religion was not, however, a discovery of faith, at least for the majority. It was an expression of protest, freedom of thought, disagreement with the system and the rule of Soviet ideology. Ustvolskaya’s spiritual works, apart from her special connection with God, are an expression of inner protest. (The score of the composition “Dona nobis pacem,” for example, could not be published with such a subtitle.) They are a challenge to the system, a reaction to oppression. Such art could appear only under the conditions of the Soviet Union. Imagine an American composer who write spiritual music. (It does not matter whether it is religious or not.) Would it be a sensation?

Filed under: Galina Ustvolskaya, Pierre Boulez Saal

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