Belma Bešlić-Gál | 1978 [Tuzla, SFR Yugoslavia]

Belma Bešlić-Gál @mudstudiovienna [04/2023]
Fashion: Goran Bugarić | Photography: Svetlana Gazić | Hair and Make up: Ana Jakšić, Ieva Gun @mudstudiovienna © 2023


Belma Bešlić-Gál // Born 1978 in the industrial city of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, is a composer, pianist, curator and artist from Vienna, Austria. Drawing on various forms of contemporary music with an emphasis on avant-garde concepts of intermedia music theater, her compositions range from orchestral, chamber, and solo works to installation art, media art, and literature. Bešlić-Gál studied piano at the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar (Gerlinde Otto, Lazar Berman) and composition at the Kunstuniversität Graz (Bernhard Lang, Klaus Lang). As of 2011, she has been co-curator of the Transdisciplinary Festival for Music and Sound Art shut up and listen! in Vienna. 

Bešlić-Gál´s interest in music began at a youngest age, as singing, dancing, and playing instruments were all part of growing up in the Yugoslav tradition. She began her piano studies at the age of six in the class of Prof. Planinka Jurišić-Atić and soon became a nationally recognized prodigy, winning top prizes as a young pianist and appearing on numerous radio and television programs. By skipping classes (both elementary and primary music school) with special permission from the Ministry of Education, she became the youngest high school student in the history of the city of Tuzla at the age of twelve.

In the summer of 1991, the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia began. The siege of her hometown Tuzla began in May 1992. The subsequent 13-month of living in the war, followed by escape and Refugee Status in Germany, became the most formative experiences of her life, influencing not only her artistic concepts but also the perception of earthly existence per se.

The conceptual basis of her work is an intensive preoccupation with the phenomenon of time. Combining instruments, light and objects, as well as architectural concepts and audiovisual projections, she focuses on exploring ways to manipulate audiences’ sensory perceptions. Other important areas of her transdisciplinary approach to various representations of contemporary composition include the integration of existentialist and futurist ideas and concepts, the influence of microgravity and space science on the hypothetical (extraterrestrial) art of tomorrow, and the destructive effects of reactionism and nationalism on (post-Yugoslav) art, culture, and society in general.

EDUCATION // Sedam sekretara SKOJ-a Elementary School // Music Elementary School Tuzla // Music High School Tuzla // Berufsfachschule für Musik Plattling // Thomasgymnasium zu Leipzig // Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar – Piano [Gerlinde Otto, Lazar Berman] // Kunstuniversität Graz – Composition, Music Theory, Music Theatre [Bernhard Lang, Klaus Lang]
WORKSHOPS* Darmstädter Ferienkurse [Rebecca Saunders, Brian Ferneyhough, Raphaël Cendo, Germáno Toro-Pérez] // Akademie für Neue Musik – Meisterkurse an der Hochschule für Musik und Theater München [Wolfgang Rihm] // Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar [Michael Obst, Robin Minard, Albrecht von Massow, Reinhard Wolschina] // Internationales Forum für professionelle Choreographinnen und Komponistinnen Reutlingen [James Sutherland, Elsa Genova]
AWARDS* Composer in Residence – Komponistinnen nach Frankfurt International Scholarship 2011 [Archive of Women in Music, Frankfurt am Main, Germany] // Arts & Culture Award 2011 [Ingrid zu Solms Foundation, Frankfurt am Main, Germany] // START-Scholarship for Composition and Performing Arts 2011 [Arts Division of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture] // Austrian State Scholarship for Composition 2014 [Arts Division of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture] // Publicity Award 2019 [SKE/austromechana]
GRANTS/SCHOLARSHIPS* Composition Grant 2011 [SKE/austromechana] // Publication Grant 2012 [SKE/austromechana] // Composition Grant 2012/2015/2017 [Cultural Department of the City of Vienna] // Composition Grant 2012/2013/2015 [Arts Division of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture] // Composition Grant 2016/2017 [Art Section of the Austrian Federal Chancellery]
ENSEMBLES* Ensemble I z M, dissonArt Ensemble, JazzWerkstatt Wien, Studio Dan, szene instrumental, oenm – œsterreichisches ensemble fuer neue musik, Duo Soufflé, Ensamble del Cepromusic, Fidelio Trio, ensemble reconsil wien, Ensemble Kontrapunkte, airborne extended, Platypus Ensemble, mise-en ensemble, SolistInnen des styriarte Festspiel-Orchesters, The Black Page Orchestra, TENM – Tiroler Ensemble für Neue Musik, PHACE, Ensemble für Neue Musik, Duo FredDo
FESTIVALS | CONCERT SERIES* Sonic Vigil [Cork, Ireland],  Hörfest [Graz, Austria],  2. X – TENDED [Vienna, Austria], Encuentro de Arte Sonoro Tsonami [Buenos Aires, Argentina], neue musik st. Ruprecht [Vienna, Austria], Liquid Music Festival [Judenburg, Austria], Sláturtíð Festival [Reykjavík, Ísland], shut up and listen! Transdisciplinary Festival for Music and Sound Art [Vienna, Austria], live recording session@amann studio [Vienna, Austria], Roomservice Festival| Porgy & Bess [Vienna, Austria], International computer music conference ICMC 2012 [Ljubljana, Slovenia], andere saite [Graz, Austria], œnm . ganz privat [Salzburg, Austria], 16th Biennial Festival of New Music [Tallahassee, Florida, USA], Atelierkonzert für Neue Musik Astrid Rieder [Salzburg, Austria], hoergeREDER Festival| [Graz, Austria], Soundings Festival [London, UK], ISCM World Music Days [Bratislava, Slovakia], Tsonami Córdoba 2013-encuentro de arte sonoro y nuevas músicas [Córdoba, Argentina], Welser Abonnementkonzerte [Wels, Austria], Ensemble Kontrapunkte Musikverein [Vienna, Austria], styriarte [Graz, Austria], IGNM @ prattica [Graz, Austria], Sonemus Fest [Sarajevo, BiH], SOLOIST series at MISE-EN_PLACE [New York City, USA], CONNECTIONS Series @ Austrian Cultural Forum [New York City, USA], Musiktheatertage Wien [Vienna, Austria], do trans-Art! [Salzburg, Austria]
CURATORIAL WORK* Refleksija [Multimedia Music Project] // Experimental jet set [Performances, Media art, Concerts, Exibitions, Texts] // MANUFAKTURA [Multimedia Art Festival] // shut up and listen! Transdisciplinary Festival for Music and Sound Art [Non-Profit Organisation for Art and Transdisciplinarity sp ce] // Muzičko-scenski performans “Mak Dizdar: prvih stotinu godina” [Fondacija Mak Dizdar, Sarajevo]

RADIO PORTRAITS* Ö1 Zeit-Ton Porträt. Belma Beslic-Gál // Atelier für Neue Musik: Belma Beslic – Gál_Radio Feature, Part I // Atelier für Neue Musik: Belma Beslic – Gál_Radio Feature, Part II // Vom Nichts – Porträt Belma Bešlić-Gál | 09/03/2013_23:05 h | hr2-kultur, “The Artist’s Corner” | Gestaltung: Stefan Fricke // Ö1 Zeit-Ton // Querschnitte – Porträt Belma Bešlić-Gál | 01/03/2015 | RAI Südtirol | Gestaltung: Manuela Kerer // Ö1 Zeit-Ton | Styriarte 2015 – Gli Scherzi // Ö1 Zeit-Ton: Zeit-Ton extended // Ö1 Zeit-Ton: styriarte 2016. Große Töchter // Ö1 Zeit-Ton: IGNM @ prattica E: Elektronik und … (Teil 2)

ARTIST COLABORATIONS* Bernhard Gál (composer, curator, artist) AUT [sp ce/Vienna, Austria] // Goran Stevanović (accordion) BiH/DEU [Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien/Hannover, Germany] // Vera Klug (flute) AUT [Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik/Salzburg, Austria] // Michael Moser (violoncello) AUT // Matthias Schorn (clarinet) AUT [Vienna Philharmonic, Austria] // Annelie Gahl (violin) AUT [Universität Mozarteum/Salzburg, Austria] // Wolfgang Hattinger (composer, conductor) AUT [ensemble szene instrumental/Kunstuniversität Graz, Austria] // Doris Nicoletti (flute) AUT [Ensemble Phace/Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, Austria] // Peter Jakober (composer, curator) AUT // Matthias Kranebitter (composer, conductor, curator) AUT [The Black Page Orchestra/Vienna, Austria] // Christoph Szalay (author, writer) AUT // Nataša Mirković (musician, singer, conductor) BiH/AUT // Harald Pröckl (accordion, conductor) AUT [TENM / Tiroler Landeskonservatorium, Austria] // Klaus Lang (composer, organ) AUT [Kunstuniversität Graz, Austria]
INSTITUTIONS* Ingrid zu Solms-Stiftung [Frankfurt am Main, Germany], die andere saite [Graz, Austria], Planetarium Judenburg [Austria], Internationale Musikmesse [Frankfurt am Main, Germany], Archiv Frau & Musik [Frankfurt am Main, Germany], El Centro Cultural Recoleta [Buenos Aires, Argentina], neue musik st. Ruprecht [Vienna, Austria], Reykjavík Art Museum [Reykjavík, Ísland], Stjörnuverið [Reykjavík, Ísland], Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität [Frankfurt am Main, Germany], Hoffmanns Höfe [Frankfurt am Main, Germany], Stift St. Peter [Salzburg, Austria], Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main [Frankfurt am Main, Germany], Echoraum [Vienna, Austria], ORF Studio Steiermark [Graz, Austria], Ö1 [Austria], Centrum audiovizuálních studií, Filmová a televizní fakulta Akademie múzických umění v Praze (FAMU) [Praha, Česká republika], Amann Studio [Vienna, Austria], Institut für neue Medien (INM) [Frankfurt am Main, Germany], Porgy & Bess [Vienna, Austria], Kino Šiška [Ljubljana, Slovenija], Univerza v Ljubljani/Akademija za glazbo [Ljubljana, Slovenija], Theater Reutlingen Die Tonne [Germany], Kulturzentrum bei den Minoriten [Graz Austria], Kunstverein [Salzburg, Austria], Opperman Music Hall/The Florida State University [Tallahassee, Florida, USA], Hessischer Rundfunk [Germany], Austrian Cultural Forum [London, UK], Arnold Schönberg Center [Vienna, Austria], Alte Schmiede [Vienna, Austria], Centro de Producción e Investigación en Artes (CePIA) de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba [Argentina], Landesmusikschule [Wels, Austria], Austrian Cultural Forum [Budapest, Hungary], Essl Museum – Kunst der Gegenwart [Klosterneuburg, Austria], Centro de Experimentación y Producción de la Música Contemporánea [Mexico City, Mexico], Palacio de Bellas Arte [Mexico City, Mexico], RAI Südtirol [Italy], Musikverein [Wien, Austria], Künstlerhaus [Salzburg, Austria], Mumuth der Kunstuniversität Graz [Graz, Austria], Martin-Luther-Kirche zu Ehlershausen [Burgdorf bei Hannover, Germany], Schlosstheater Celle [Germany], Forum Stadtpark [Graz, Austria], Dom armije [Sarajevo, BiH], BKC [Tuzla, BiH], The Society Of New Music Sarajevo – SONEMUS [BiH], MISE-EN_PLACE [Brooklyn, NY, USA], Austrian Cultural Forum [New York City, USA] | Helmut List Halle [Graz, Austria] | Werk-X [Vienna, Austria] | Fondacija Mak Dizdar [Sarajevo, BiH] | Narodno pozorište Sarajevo [Sarajevo, BiH] | Vierundeinzig [Innsbruck, Austria] | Konzerthaus [Vienna, Austria] | Kurhaus [Hall in Tirol, Austria] | Muzička akademija Sarajevo [Sarajevo, BiH] | Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral [Cork, Ireland]
* Selection

The fascination of vastness, the unreachable and the spherical resonate in Bešlić-Gál´s compositions as she slowly creates iridescent “sound organisms” emerging from nothingness. Far from formal structures, the individual parts that merge into homogeneous sounds follow their own laws of continuous change and, with their course that neither begins nor ends, suspend the common sense of time. In these sources of inspiration, which lie beyond everyday perception, and the new world formed from them, there is also criticism of prevailing circumstances, such as that of the post-war societies of the Western Balkans. Her early career as a pianist also strengthened her “aversion” to the concert establishment and established performance practice. With interdisciplinary works that reinforced notions of the previously unheard expressed in music, she battles these conventions with subtle soundscapes.

Doris Weberberger [micaaustria]


An expert jury consisting of Dr. Julia Cloot (Institute for Contemporary Music at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts), Susanne Swerdloff (composer), Stefan Fricke (Hessischer Rundfunk), Nina Janßen (Ensemble Modern) and Dr. Cornelia Preissinger (Board of Directors of Internationaler Arbeitskreis Frau und Musik e. V.), decided in favor of Belma Bešlić-Gál after closely examining the 80 submissions from international women composers. […] The titles of Belma Bešlić-Gál´s works, such as “A search for time distortion” or “Nihil fit sine causa” reveal the themes with which the composer has been dealing with intensively in recent years. In her intermedial music compositions, for example, she has dealt with futurism, nihilism, space exploration and the manipulation of time perception. Her creative and multi-layered compositions with future potential prompted the jury’s decision to invite her to Frankfurt as “Composer in Residence”.



SPACE=WOW (BUT I STILL MISS YOU, EARTH) premiered on May 16, 2017, at the KULTUM, Kulturzentrum bei den Minoriten Graz is a commissioned work to the Austrian literati Christoph Szalay (*1987). Together, the artists developed a delicate fabric of text and sound, which chooses the Mars mission planned for the year 2035 as a starting point to address Planet Earth and its inhabitants. The performance space becomes a surreal place in which the hierarchy of the ensemble dissolves and instrumentalists, conductor and singer act as equal participants, travelling through space-time. Sound sources of all kinds are hidden and form a symbiosis with the space and the bodies being present, with language and with light. Thereby an organic unity of sound space, darkness and being emerges, which raises questions and stimulates reflection.

Elfriede Reissig, Composing Women | ‘Femininity’ and Views on Cultures, Gender and Music of Southeastern Europe since 1918, Vienna: Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag, 2022, S. 70.