Sofia Gubaidulina completed her education of the Conservatory of Kazan in 1954 and continued her compositional studies in Moscow with Nikolai Pejko. Gubaidulina has been a freelance composer since 1963. After her compositional activity was subject to constant repression in the Soviet Union, she moved to Germany in 1992 and since then has lived near Hamburg. Gidon Kremer’s commitment to her violin concerto “Offertorium” in the 1980s helped her to become rapidly known in the West. She is a member of the Free Academy of the Arts and the order “Pour le mérite,” amongst other organisations.
Due to her education, Sofia Gubaidulina is classified with the Russian cultural circle. However, Asian influences stemming from her Tatar origins are definitely audible in her work. Composing is a religious action for the devoutly Christian composer.
Since the 1980s, numerical relationships have played an important role for Gubaidulina; with their help, she structures pitches, rhythms and formal processes. She feels closely related to Johann Sebastian Bach in her efforts towards combining intellectuality and emotionality. She designates the dilogy „St. John Passion“ and „St. John Easter“ as her opus summum, in which she counterpoints the texts of the Evangelists with text passages of the Apocalypse in a bold theological approach.