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