Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol in the Tatar Republic on 24 October 1931 and completed a degree in piano and composition with Grigori Kogan at Kazan Conservatory (1954). She then pursued her study of composition at Moscow Conservatory with Nicolai Peyko (Dmitri Shostakovich’s assistant) until 1959, after which she did post-graduate work with Visarion Shebalin. She has been a freelance composer since 1963.
Beginning in the early 1980s her works quickly found their way into western concert programmes. As a result she is now considered a leading figure in post-Soviet contemporary music, as is evident by the many commissions she has received from renowned institutions and by the numerous CD recordings of her music. Since 1992 she has lived near Hamburg.
Sofia Gubaidulina is a member of the Berlin Academy of the Arts, the Hamburg Free Academy of the Arts, the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was awarded the German Order “Pour le mérite” in 1999 and received honorary professorships from Kazan Conservatory (2001) and the conservatories of Beijing and Tianjin (2005).
Among her many awards and distinctions are the Prix de Monaco (1987), the Premio Franco Abbiato (1991), the Heidelberg Prize for Women Artists (1991), the Russian State Prize (1992), the Ludwig Spohr Prize (Braunschweig, 1995), the Praemium Imperiale (Japan, 1998), the Leonie Sonning Music Prize (1999), the Goethe Medal (Weimar, 2001), the Moscow “Silenzio” Prize (2001), the Polar Music Prize (2002), the Great Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2002), the European Culture Prize (2005), the “Triumph” Culture Prize of Russia (2007), the Hamburg Bach Prize (2007), the Prize of the European Church Music, Schwäbisch Gmünd (2009). In 2003 she was chosen “Living Composer of the Year” at the Cannes Classical Awards.