Ralf Gothoni Biography

Ralf Gothóni has a many-sided and worldwide career as pianist, chamber musician, conductor, composer and pedagogue. He became well-known for his unconventional way of music-making and about the wholeness of his musicianship.
His tight concert schedule have included major festivals in: Berlin, Edinburgh, Salzburg, La Roque de Antheron, Prades, Prague, The Proms, Ravinia, Seoul etc., orchestras with: Bayerischer Rundfunk, Berlin and Warsaw philharmonics, Detroit, Chicago and Toronto Symphonies etc. and recording studios (c. 100 recordings for international labels). Gothóni appears regularly both as a soloist and conductor, conducting often from the keyboard. He has premiered more than a dozen piano concertos like Tavener, Sallinen, Rautavaara, Curtis- Smith, Glick, Segerstam etc. As a conductor he worked a.o. as the principal conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra in 2001-2009 and as the musical director of Northwest Chamber Orchestra in Seattle. In 2004 he was appointed as the guest conductor of Deutsche Kammerakademie. As chamber musician he performs regularly at the important festivals.
Very close to Gothónis heart is the contact with young musicians; his has been professor for chamber music in Berlin, Hamburg, Helsinki, London, in Madrid at the Instituto de Musica Camara, Reina Sofia and in Karlsruhe, Germany. He also gives master classes worldwide and is invited as juror at the major piano competitions.
In the 80's, during Gothóni's artistic directorship, the Savonlinna Opera Festival expanded to its format of today. In the 90-ties he was the initiator and artistic director of "The Forbidden City Music Festival" in Beijing and since 2004 he has directed "The Musical Bridge" between Egypt and Finland in Cairo. He has also been successful as a writer of three books with essays about musical phenomenology.
Mr Gothóni has been honored with many awards, including the American Gilmore Artist Award in 1994, which is one of the biggest awards in classical music and the Schubert Medal of the Austrian Cultural Ministry. In 2012 he was honored in Madrid for his artistic and pedagogic activities by Sofia, the Queen of Spain.
The compositions of Ralf Gothóni include three chamber operas, the setting of the Chinese Zen story "The Ox and his herdsman", the Concerto Grosso for Violin, Piano and Strings, Chamber Concerto for viola and chamber orchestra, chamber music and songs.
His major works that have been recorded as a pianist and conductor are increasing yearly.




  • Under it all, though, Gothoni's beautiful touch and warmth seemed to flavor everything.
    Mark Swed
    Time Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times
  • Gothoni's playing is of an entirely different league and his artistry of a different order. His account of Kyllikki is commanding, full of character and imagination. Whether in the Five Pieces, Op. 75, or the finely wrought Song in the Forest from Esquisses, Op. 114 Gothóni plays with both authority and sensitivity. While the piano music is, by the exalted standards Sibelius set elsewhere, limited in resource he never – to quote Glenn Gould – "wrote against the grain of the keyboard". Gothóni shapes and colours every phrase with fantasy and without the slightest trace of exaggeration. The Op. 34 Bagatelles are particularly successful and persuasive.

    Gramophone 11/1996

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