|Ralf Gothóni (born May 2, 1946
in Finland, now living in Germany) has a multifaceted career as solo pianist,
chamber musician and conductor throughout the world. He is known for his
unconventional music-making, not just as a pianist, but as a musician with
a remarkable philosophy about music and the wholeness of musicianship.
Gothóni began his studies on the violin at age three and on piano at age five. At fifteen he made his debut as an orchestra soloist and in 1967 was named “debut of the year” at the Jyväskylä Summer Festival
He has performed at the most prestigious music festivals – Salzburg, Berlin, Prague, Prades, Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, La Roque de Antheron, Ravinia, Tanglewood – and with many of the world’s leading orchestras: the Chicago Symphon, Detroit Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, the Japan Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra among many others. He appears regularly in concerts both as conductor and soloist, frequently conducting from the keyboard. Ralf Gothóni has premiered more than a dozen piano concertos by such noted composers as Sir John Tavener, Aulis Sallinen, C. Curtis-Smith, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Srul Irving Glick. A noted musical collaborator, he is also a frequent guest artist at the major international chamber music festivals.
Mr. Gothóni has some one hundred recordings on numerous labels, including BIS, CPO, Decca, DGG, EMI and Ondine, with whom he has produced more than twenty CDs. Of particular note are his Schubert interpretations, the piano concertos of Benjamin Britten, Villa-Lobos and Rautavaara. In recent years he has recorded several CD:s with music by Alfred Schnittke and Aulis Sallinen, both as soloist and conductor.
Ralf Gothóni was Principal Conductor of the legendary English Chamber Orchestra from 2000-09. From 2001–06 he was Music Director of the Northwest Chamber Orchestra in Seattle. In 2004 he was named Guest Conductor of Deutsche Kammerakademie. He has held many other artistic postitions: Chief Conductor of the Finlandia Sinfonietta (1989–94), Principal Guest Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic (1995–2000), Artistic Director of the famous Savonlinna Opera Festival (1984–1987), Founder of the “Forbidden City Music Festival” in Beijing and its Artistic Director in 1996 and 1998, and Founder of “Musical Bridge Egypt-Finland,” a cultural collaboration between Finland and Egypt where his northern colleagues perform with Egyptian musicians. Since 2009 he has been Artistic Advisor for the Springlight Music Festival in Helsinki. He has also supported classical music in Israel and in South Africa.
Contact with young musicians is very close to his heart. He is the Artistic Chairman of “Savonlinna Music Academy,” a summer institute for chamber music, Lied and opera. He has held the position of Professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg (1986–96), 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 2010, the Musikhochschule Detmold. In 2006 he became head of the piano chamber music department at the “Instituto de Musica Camara, Reina Sofia” in Madrid. Besides giving master classes around the world, he has spent many summers as a faculty member at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia in Chicago. In recent years he has served as juror at major international piano competitions.
A composer of some note, Ralf Gothóni has written three chamber operas, chamber music, songs and the chamber cantata, The Ox and its Sephard (recorded by Ondine), as well as a Concerto Grosso version of this for violin, piano and strings. This concerto was premiered in1999 with the composer as piano soloist and conductor and his wife, Elina Vähälä as violin soloist. In April 2003 his chamber orchestra arrangement of Hugo Wolf´s Italian Songbook was premiered in Stuttgart. His first book, The Creative Moment, was published with great success in 1998. A second book, Does the Moon Rotate, was published in 2001.
Mr. Gothóni has been honored with numerous awards and distinctions including the Gilmore Artist Award in 1994, one of the major awards in classical music, the Schubert Medal of the Austrian Ministry of Culture and the Order of Pro Finlandia.
-- From the California Artists Management website, June, 2011
This interview was recorded in a rehearsal room backstage at the
Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL, on June 30, 1995. Segments were
used (with recordings) on WNIB the following year, and on WNUR in 2003.
The transcription was made and posted on this website in 2014.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.