I was born in Germany of Romani-Kurdish descent, and have lived, worked, and studied on both sides of the Atlantic. In the last decades, through my wife, Poland became my adopted country. The multiplicity of these cultural and professional experiences has profoundly helped shape my compositional voice. The structural fabrics, psychological developments, and dramatic intentions of my music seek to engage the listener's emotions and intellect to lead him/her through the essential aesthetic experience.
In my music I wish to address issues of the human condition. This may take the form of sociopolitical criticism, setting musically images of human frailty and strength, of human hypocrisy and glory, of giving thanks, of redemption and hope, and reflecting on matters of spiritual and existential import.
My life experiences and deep involvement with the other arts both inspire and directly resonate in my work. From Kochanowski through Cervantes, Brecht and Eliot, from Stwosz through Raphael, Kollwitz and Matisse, my compositional signatures spring from an encompassing and engrossing artistic vision.
Ralf Yusuf Gawlick is a German-American composer of Romani-Kurdish descent. His works include solo, chamber, orchestral, electro-acoustic, film and choral music, traversing a wide range of styles and often exploring aspects of his complex international heritage. His music has been commissioned and championed by a wide range of artists and organizations, attracting international acclaim from audiences and critics. In recent years his electro-acoustic work Herzliche Grüße Bruno ~ Briefe aus Stalingrad, eight-voice Missa Gentis Humanæ, song cycle Kollwitz-Konnex (…im Frieden seiner Hände), Kinderkreuzzug cantata and autobiographical string quartet Imagined Memories have exemplified his remarkably diverse output, with its frequent references to the highlights of the Western musical canon and rigorous compositional standards. Gawlick’s most recent composition, an oratorio entitled O Lungo Drom (The Long Road), was commissioned by the Alban Berg Ensemble Wien and is dedicated to Romani Rose, Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma. His music, published by several firms, has been performed internationally (in venues including Konzerthaus Berlin, Vienna’s Musikverein, New York’s Carnegie Hall) and is recorded on the Musica Omnia, Perfect Noise and Decca Eloquence labels in composer-supervised performances by the works’ dedicatees. Gawlick is currently working on Die Ursitory, an opera based on Matéo Maximoff’s novel of the same name. This opera contains many "firsts": Die Ursitory is the first novel written by a Rom, on a Romani theme, and now set to music by a Romani composer. In this way, Maximoff's seminal story receives a unique realization from within, rather than being viewed through the lens and stereotypes of non-Roma, as in all previous operas with Roma (G*psy) themes. A professor at Boston College, Ralf Gawlick lives in Newton, MA, with his wife and fellow musician, Basia.
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