Offertorium (Gubaidulina)

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Offertorium (Russian Жертвоприношение) is a concerto for violin and orchestra composed by Sofia Gubaidulina in 1980 and revised in 1982 and again in 1986. It is dedicated to Gidon Kremer, who in touring with it around the world brought Gubaidulina to international attention.

The work is centered around the royal theme of Frederick the Great in Johann Sebastian Bach's Musical Offering. Gubaidulina orchestrates the theme using a Klangfarbenmelodien technique reminiscent of Webern, passing it around various instruments to exploit their various timbres. The introduction presents the theme almost whole-- it lacks only the last note. The soloist then enters, beginning a series of variations which deconstruct the theme note by note. After the theme's demise a free rhapsodic interim follows. In the final section, the theme is rebuilt, note by note, from the middle note, until it resembles a Russian Orthodox hymn. The theme as a whole appears only at the very end, with the solo violin ending the piece on the high last note.

In uniting her twin inspirations Webern and Bach, and in the deep Christian symbolism of the theme's "death" and "resurrection", Offertorium is a representative work of Gubaidulina's mature period.

The piece was first performed in 1981 in Vienna by Kremer and the ORF (Austrian Radio) Symphony Orchestra, directed by Leif Segerstam.


  • BIS Records BIS-CD-566: Oleh Krysa, violin and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by James DePriest.
  • Deutsche Grammophon 471 625-2: Gidon Kremer, violin and the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit.