Russian composer Elena Firsova was born in Leningrad on 21 March 1950 into a family of physicists and studied music with Edison Denisov, Philip Herschkowitz, Yuri Kholopov and Alexander Pirumov in Moscow.
She emerged as a composer in the 1970s and was blacklisted by the Union of Soviet Composers in 1979 for unapproved participation at festivals of Soviet music in Western countries.
She has written many chamber cantatas for solo voice and ensemble or orchestra, some setting Pushkin, Pasternak and Oleg Prokofiev. Her other output includes string quartets, concertos, operas and solo instrumental music. She has been commissioned widely, including by the BBC Proms, the Brodsky Quartet, the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Expo 2000 Hanover.
She was married to composer Dmitri Smirnov (1948-2020) and their two children are composer, conductor and pianist Alissa Firsova and artist and sculptor Philip Firsov.
Elena Firsova has lived in the United Kingdom since 1991.