I'm curious to know what people think of her. I don't really know very much, and so far have heard very little, though she is highly recommended by those interested in modern music, and especially those who are fond of Soviet/Russian music. The first symphony is praised, so I have provided the link below, and some biographical data.
Galina Ivanovna Ustvolskaya, also Ustwolskaja or Oustvolskaia (Russian: Гали́на Ива́новна Уство́льская
Galina Ustvolkskaya - Symphony No. 1
On several occasions Shostakovich supported her in the Union of Soviet Composers against opposition from his colleagues. He sent some of his own as yet unfinished works to Ustvolskaya, attaching great value to her comments. Some of these pieces even contain quotations from his pupil’s compositions; for example, he employed the second theme of the Finale of her clarinet trio throughout the Fifth String Quartet and in the Michelangelo Suite (no. 9). The intimate spiritual and artistic relationship between the two composers has been compared to that of Schoenberg and Webern.
She was a pupil of Shostakovich from 1939 to 1947 but retained little influence of his style from the 1950s onwards. As a modernist, she had few public performances; until 1968 none of her works were performed other than patriotic pieces written for official consumption. Until the fall of the USSR, only the violin sonata of 1952 was played with any frequency, but since then her music has been increasingly often programmed in the west.
Ustvolskaya developed her own very particular style, of which she said, "There is no link whatsoever between my music and that of any other composer, living or dead." Among its characteristics are: the use of repeated, homophonic blocks of sound, which prompted the Dutch critic Elmer Schönberger to call her "the lady with the hammer"; unusual combinations of instruments (such as eight double basses, piano and percussion in her Composition No. 2); considerable use of extreme dynamics (as in her Piano Sonata No. 6); employing groups of instruments in order to introduce tone clusters; and the use of piano or percussion to beat out regular unchanging rhythms (all of her acknowledged works use either piano or percussion, many use both).