Pakhmutova, Aleksandra Nikolayevna
- Olga Manulkina
(b Volgograd, Nov 9, 1929). Russian composer. She studied composition with V.Yu. Shebalin at the Moscow Conservatory, as an undergraduate (until 1953) and at postgraduate level (1953–6). She made an immediate impact on the world of Soviet song, securing a reputation among popular songwriters through her individual voice and unfailing ability to respond acutely to contemporary events, whether it be the heroism of Gagarin or the tragedy of Chernobyl. Her treatment of important social themes carries a personal stamp, and even the ‘official’ songs she was obliged to write – Pakhmutova’s heyday occurred during the ‘period of stagnation’ under Brezhnev – are individual and of high quality. Her songs are also inseparably linked with the Komsomol movement of the 1960s; their performance was a high point of congresses and the songs became popular because the composer succeeded in emphasizing the best aspects of the movement – its spirit rather than its formal ideology. Pakhmutova was secretary to the Board of the USSR Composers’ Union and enjoyed not only official Soviet recognition, rare for a composer, but also international renown. She was the first composer to be awarded the Komsomol prize, was twice a state prize-winner and was decorated with the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour....