During the Soviet era, the Pavlova family was transferred to Moscow in 1961, where Alla studied music in the Gnessin State Musical College. She studied with Armen Shakhbagyan, a composer with a reputation established in the 1970s, and paid special attention to the works of Anna Akhmatova. This influenced a good part of her production until the 1990s.
Following her graduation in 1983, Pavlova moved to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, where she worked at the Union of Bulgarian Composers and the Bulgarian National Opera. She returned to Moscow three years later.
From 1986, Pavlova worked for the Russian Musical Society Board in Moscow, before relocating to New York City in 1990.
Following her arrival in New York, Pavlova compiled a collection for her daughter Irene consisting of simple pieces for piano inspired by the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. During the first half of the 1990s her compositions alternated between lieder and small works for piano. In 1994, Pavlov produced her first major work, Symphony nº. 1 Farewell Russia. Symphony nº. 1 seeks to convey the melancholic burden and feelings of pain felt by the composer on leaving her home country. The work is articulated in a single movement, and comprises an ensemble consisting of two violins, a cello, a piano, a flute, and a piccolo, which was recorded in Russia by soloists of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra barely two days after its opening.
Pavlova waited for four years to compose her first symphonic work, barely four minutes long for piano and strings, motivated by the death of Shakhbagyan. She returned to take refuge in lieder, composing pieces like Miss me... but let me go at the beginning of September 2001. The same way that Cristóbal Halffter saw his composition Adagio en forma de Rondó changed by the terrorist attacks of September 11, Pavlova was shocked by these attacks, especially as she lived quite close to ground zero. She decided to rededicate the song to the memory of the victims.
Her first symphonic work following the Elegia, the Symphony nº. 2 for the New Millennium (1998), was arguably her most ambitious work to date: Even before being reviewed four years later, it was brought to CD by Vladimir Fedoseyev, who would later become one of Pavlova's representatives to Russia, having played and recorded the Fourth Symphony, in a move that firmly established the reputation of Pavlova in Russia.
Pavlova is a member of the New York Women Composers, Inc..
Besides supporting her prestige, the Second Symphony supposes an important point of inflection in the career of Pavlova, as she abandoned chamber music in successive works in favor of large orchestral compositions. In 2000, she sealed this change of orientation with the monumental Symphony nº. 3; this work, inspired by a New York monument to Joan of Arc, is characterized for its intense expressive reach and is considered her masterpiece. Faithful to her policy of revision, Pavlova continued to work on this piece, adding a guitar as a colorful element.
Work on this Symphony continued in 2002, as well as a second concert work, a monologue with solo violin in which she again used a string orchestra. Pavlova worked the two following years in her first incidental accomplishment, that of the ballet Sulamith, which carries to stage a story by Aleksandr Kuprin of biblical inspiration, the execution of which extracted a symphonic suite spanning three quarters of an hour.
Other Pavlova compositions are her Fifth Symphony (2006), Sixth Symphony (2008) and Thumbelina Ballet Suite (2008/2009), which have been released by Naxos. Update, her Seventh and Eighth Symphonies have been released on Naxos in 2012.
Her music takes as its inspiration the great Russian masters of the 20th century (Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, etc.), and each of her works seem crossed by the topic of uprooting and exile."Lullaby for Irene" for piano, violin (or flute) and vibraphone (1972)
Two Songs to Verses by Anna Akhmatova for soprano and piano (1974)
"We Are the Love" to verses by Alla Pavlova for (mezzo-)soprano and piano quartet (1974)
"The Dream" to verses by Anna Akhmatova for soprano and piano (1979)
Impressions after Fairy-Tales by H. C. Andersen for piano (1990)
Winter Morning to Verses by Alexander Pushkin for soprano, cello and flute (1993)
Prelude for piano "For My Mother" (1994)
"Summer Pictures for piano (1994)
Symphony No. 1 "Farewell, Russia" for chamber orchestra (1994)
The Old New York Nostalgia Suite for piano (1995)
"Miss Me ... But Let Me Go" for violin, cello, two guitars and mezzo-soprano (1997)
"I Loved You", masterpieces of Russian poetry for mezzo-soprano, violin and piano (1998)
Elegy for piano and string orchestra (1998)
Symphony No. 2 "For the New Millennium" (1998)
The Old New York Nostalgia Suite for string orchestra, percussion, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone and trumpet (1998)
Symphony No. 3 (2000)
Symphony No. 4 (2002)
Monolog for violin and string orchestra (2002)
Suite from "Sulamith" (2003-2004)
"Sulamith", ballet (2003-2005)
Symphony No. 5 (2006)
Symphony No. 6 (2008)
Suite from "Thumbelina" (2008-2009)
Symphony No. 7 (2011)
Symphony No. 8 (2011)
Concertino for violin, piano and string orchestra (2012)
"Night Music" for violin and strings (2014)