Ralf Gothóni (1994)Finland - Artist Website »
Finnish-German pianist Ralf Gothóni enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist, chamber musician, composer, and conductor worldwide. He became well-known for his unconventional way of music-making, not only as a pianist, but in the wholeness of musicianship. He began his studies on the violin at age three and on piano at age five. At 15 he made his first appearance with an orchestra; in 1967 he debuted at the Jyväskylä Summer Festival.
Mr. Gothóni has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras—often conducting from the keyboard—including the Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto Symphony Orchestras; Berlin and Warsaw Philharmonics; and the Bavarian Radio Symphony. He appears frequently at summer music festivals, as a soloist and in collaboration with chamber orchestras. Mr. Gothóni has premiered more than a dozen piano concertos, among them works by Sir John Tavener, Aulis Sallinen, Curtis Curtis-Smith, Einojuhani Rautavaara, and Srul Irving Glick.
He has recorded some 100 albums for several labels, including BIS, CPO, Decca, DGG, EMI, and Ondine, with whom he produced more than 20 CDs in the 1990s. Among the recordings of particular note are his Schubert interpretations, and the piano concertos by Britten, Villa-Lobos, and Rautavaara.
Mr. Gothóni was the principal conductor of the legendary English Chamber Orchestra from 2000 to 2009. From 2001 to 2006 he served as music director for the Northwest Chamber Orchestra in Seattle (WA), and in 2004 he was nominated the guest conductor of the Deutsche Kammerakademie. He has held many artistic posts, including chief conductor of the Finlandia Sinfonietta (1989-1994), principal guest conductor of the Turku (Finland) Philharmonic (1995-2000), and artistic director of the Savonlinna (Finland) Opera Festival (1984-1987). He was the founder and artistic director of the Forbidden City Music Festival in Beijing (1996 and 1998) and in 2004 he launched a cultural collaboration between Finland and Egypt which is continuing yearly as Musical Bridge Egypt-Finland, where his northern colleagues perform with Egyptian musicians. Using this model, he launched a similar program with Azerbaijan and Jordan.
A committed pedagogue, Mr. Gothóni has held a number of teaching positions and engages frequently with young musicians. He is the artistic chairman of the Savonlinna Music Academy, a summer institute for chamber music, opera, and lieder. He has held the position of professor at the Hochschule für Musick in Hamburg (1986-1996), at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule in Berlin (1996-2000), and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki (1992-2007). In May 2000 he was appointed visiting professor at the Royal College of Music in London and in 2012 at the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe. From 2006 to 2013 he was the head of the piano chamber music department at the Instituto de Música Cámara at the Reina Sofía School of Music in Madrid. In additional to giving master classes around the world, Mr. Gothóni has spent many summers as a faculty member at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival (Chicago). In recent years he has also been invited to serve on the jury at major international piano competitions.
Mr. Gothóni has composed chamber operas, chamber music, songs, the chamber cantata The Ox and its Shepherd(recorded by Ondine), and a concerto grosso version of it for violin, piano, and strings. In April 2003 his chamber orchestra arrangement of Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook was premiered in Stuttgart and in 2014 his chamber concerto Peregrina for viola was premiered in Hamburg.
Mr. Gothóni is also an essayist: his first book, The Creative Moment, a study of the philosophy of phenomenology and its applications in music, was published with great success in 1998. Additional publications include Does the Moon Rotate? (2001), The Spider (2014), and Sounds of Life, his memoirs, in 2016.
In addition to the Gilmore Artist Award, which he received in 1994, Mr. Gothóni is the recipient of the Schubert Medal of the Austrian Ministry of Culture and the Order of Pro Finlandia. In 2012 he was recognized for his many achievements by Queen Sofia of Spain at a ceremony in Madrid.