Galina Ustvolskaya is no ordinary hero. She is an anti-hero. She’s done everything to keep herself from becoming known, let alone famous. She was unsuccessful. Ustvolskaya’s music is too unavoidably overwhelming to not be remembered.
Twenty-five works of hers remain, in total six hours of music. But each work is a monument, literally and figuratively. In 1996, the Koninklijke Concertgebouw Orkest, led by Mstislav Rostropovitch, performed Symphony number 2 by Galina Ustvolskaya. After the concert was over, the audience was literally dumbfounded. They were so completely astounded by the performance that they were silent for minutes before breaking into applause. For Ustvolskaya, music was the only important thing and all else was vanity. For this reason, and for the fabulous power of her music, she is a hero to me.
In Cherry Duyns’ documentary, Reinbert de Leeuw visits the withdrawn composer (Ich bin menschenscheu) and we catch a glimpse of the building and her tiny flat where she spent most of her life.