Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Gurminder Kaur Bhogal


As women composers in the Soviet Union, Sofia Gubaidulina and Galina Ustvolskaya occupy a unique niche in twentieth-century music history. A lack of access to the technical training required to develop compositional skills is often cited as a primary reason women composers struggled to reach the same prominence as their male colleagues. Living in an ostensibly egalitarian society, Gubaidulina and Ustvolskaya were treated as equal to their male counterparts and given greater access to education than many women in the West. This increased access to musical education represents an unprecedented experiment in classical music history. Both Gubaidulina and Ustvolskaya developed compositional styles which are neither traditional nor avant-garde, but strikingly unique. In the face of a regime which sought to limit their artistic expression, these women found freedom and independence in their music.