top of page

Hour of the Soul Poem for Large Wind Orchestra and Mezzo Soprano by SOFIA GOUBAÏDOULINA (Russia1931)

[#112] September 13, 2021

1974 | Mezzo soprano and Wind Orchestra | Grade 6 | 20’- 25’ | Solo work, contemporary

Russian composer Sofia Goubaïdoulina

Hour of the Soul, by Russian composer Sofia Goubaïdoulina is our Composition of the Week.

Based on a poem by Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaïeva (1892 - 1941), Hour of the Soul was written in between 1974 and 1976 and premiered in western Europe 30 years later, on September 11, 2004, in Bolzano, Italy, by the Windkraft Ensemble, with Nathalie Stutzmann as mezzo-soprano soloist and Kasper de Roo conducting.

Goubaïdoulina would later revise the piece in 1988, for the percussionist Mark Pekarsky, for voice and orchestra.

There exists a German translation for Tsvetaïeva’s text done by Jürgen Köchel.

Hour of the soul has a duration of about 21 minutes and uses a very large instrumentation:

5 flutes (also 3 piccolo flutes, and 2 alto flutes)

3 oboes

E-flat clarinet

19 clarinets

bass clarinet

6 saxophones (1221)

3 bassoons

6 horns

Tenor horn, baritone horn

4 trumpets

4 cornets

4 trombones

3 tubas

5 percussion

2 harps

Celesta (or piano)

The music is available at Boosey and Hawkes/Sikorski.

Sofia Asgatovna Goubaïdoulina was born on October 24, 1931, in Tschistopol, a small town on the Volga in the Tartar Republic of the USSR. Her father was Tartar, but her mother was Russian and Russian is her native language. When she was small, the family moved to Kazan. She graduated from the Kazan Conservatory in 1954, before transferring to the Moscow Conservatory, where she finished in 1961 as a postgraduate student of Vissarion Shebalin.

In the Soviet period, she earned her living writing film scores, while reserving part of every year for her own music. She was early attracted to the modernist enthusiasms of her contemporaries Schnittke and Denisov but emerged with a striking voice of her own.

During this period, she built up a close circle of performing friends with whom she would share long periods of improvisation and acoustic experiment.

Out of these experiences came many works, such as Hour of the Soul.

From the late 1970s onwards, Goubaïdouolina’s essentially religious temperament became more and more obvious in her work. Even in Soviet times when the public expression of religious themes was severely repressed. Since the arrival of greater freedom under Gorbachev, religious themes have become her overwhelming preoccupation.

"I am a religious Russian Orthodox person and I understand ‘religion’ in the literal meaning of the word, as ‘re-ligio’, that is to say the restoration of connections, the restoration of the ‘legato’ of life. There is no more serious task for music than this." From editor’s website


More on Sofia Goubaïdoulina


bottom of page