He was born into a noble family of mixed Georgian-Austrian-Spanish-Russian descent.
Vladimir Dukelsky was born on October 10, 1903 at a small railroad station Parafianovo, Vilnius Governorate, Russian Empire (now Belarus). His mother was traveling to Pskov at the time, but was detained at a railway station in the nearby village of Prafianovo in order to give birth. His family belonged to the Russian nobility-one of his grandmothers held the rank of Princess. Later the family moved to Kiev. In the summer 195, he visited Saint Petersburg and Moscow. The impressions of that remarkable summer were later echoed in Dukelsky's most daring classical composition, the Russian oratorio The End of St. Petersburg (1931–1937).