Galina Ustvolskaya was born in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) in 1919 and studied at the local College of Music from 1937 to 1939. She then moved to the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatory, where she remained until 1947 and conducted post-graduate studies. Finally she headed a composition class at the College of Music.
Her composition teacher, Dmitri Shostakovich, praised her to the skies and often took sides with her against the opposition of his colleagues. Ustvolskaya is ranked alongside Sofia Gubaidulina as Russia’s leading woman composer. Her catalogue of works is highly focused, her musical message terse and uncompromising. She died in St. Petersburg on 22 December 2006.