Rami Khalifé

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Rami Khalifé
Rami Marcel Khalife.jpg
Background information
Born (1981-09-25) September 25, 1981 (age 32)
Beirut, Lebanon
Occupations Composer, Artist, Pianist
Years active 1995–present
Website www.ramikhalife.com

Rami Khalifé (born September 25, 1981) is a French-Lebanese composer, pianist and artist. Born into a musical Lebanese family in Lebanon, he lived in Beirut before emigrating during the Lebanese civil war and becoming a French citizen.

Described as one of the most exciting composers of his generation; In October 2011, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, under the conductorship of James Gaffigan, premiered Khalifé's 'Chaos', for orchestra and piano, with Khalife at the helm as a soloist.[1][2][3] In February 2013, Rami Khalife's Arab Spring-inspired 'Requiem' was premiered by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and The Leipzig Radio Choir, to great critical acclaim.[4]

Rami Khalife actively tours his eclectic musical projects across the U.S, South America, Asia, Canada, Europe, Australia, performing in such venues as the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C., USA), the Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia), Opera House (Doha, Qatar), Place des Arts (Montreal, Canada), Dar el Opera (Damascus, Syria), Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Salle Pleyel (Paris, France) UNESCO Palace (Beirut, Lebanon).


Born September 25, 1981, to musicians, UNESCO Artist for Peace (Paris, 2005) Marcel Khalifé and vocalist Yolla Khalifé, amid the rough and tumble of civil war in Beirut, Lebanon. Rami Khalifé found his armor from the walls imploding around him under the hood of the piano. He recalled, "I was on the terrace on my bike. I left my bike and went inside to play piano. No more than a minute later a car bomb exploded right under the terrace. The bike was gone, and with it the innocence of a child."

The music lived long after the ringing of the bombs and the smatter of bullets. His evening's reprieve would be in front of transistor radios, where he would sit, legs crossed, eyes to the ceiling, and hum symphonies from beginning to end. While the piano could not travel, Rami Khalifé escaped the mounting tension and fled to Syria, before finding a refuge, of sorts, in Paris, France. He would frequent Lebanon regularly over the years that passed, mostly to pay homage to his old piano and take in the new sounds.

Rami Khalifé's evening reprieve has evolved from humming symphonies in front of old transistors, to writing them for the world to hear.


He resumed his musical training in Paris, France at the Conservatoire National de Région de Boulogne-Billancourt under the direction of Alfred Herzog, who described Rami Khalifé as a prodigious talent, "one is struck by the contrast between the attenuated silhouette on the one hand, and the rich and coloured sound on the other. His musical imagination and his extraordinary improvisations are a joy to those who listen to him."

It was at the conservatoire that Rami Khalifé studied under the likes of Louis Claude Thirion and Marie Paule Siruguet, He enriched his studies with private tutelage at the hand of international pianist Abd El Rahman El Bacha.

Rami Khalifé pursued his higher education at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Hungarian pianist, Gyorgy Sandor, Béla Bartók's disciple, mentored the young student. It was at Juilliard that he acquired a taste for improvised performances. He began to break away from the archetype of a 'classical pianist' and emerge as something more. Rami Khalifé began playing alongside Juilliard alumnus, pianist and fellow renegade Francesco Tristano, forging an enduring collaborative relationship and friendship. Together they performed several improvised concerts for piano-duo, a first in Juilliard's history.



In October 2011, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, under the conductorship of James Gaffigan, premiered Rami Khalifé's hour-long composition 'Chaos', for orchestra and piano, with Khalife at the helm as a soloist.[1][2][3] In February 2013, Rami Khalife's Arab Spring-inspired 'Requiem' was premiered, within the same program as Marcel Khalife's suite "Oriental", to great critical acclaim.[4]


Rami Khalifé's studio album projects include, Live in Beirut, Piano Concertos, Scene from Hellek, Pop Art (in collaboration with Francesco Tristano), Chaos, Aufgang, Air on Fire (Aufgang). Rami Khalifé has contributed to the works of Bachar Mar-Khalifé's 'Oil Slick' and Francesco Tristano's 'Not for Piano'. Rami Khalifé and Francesco Tristano's co-compositions appeared on the remix compilations of Carl Craig, Plaid and Agoria, just to name a few.


A sought-after composer of film music, Rami Khalifé has scored a number of short and feature-length films, working with the likes of Wael Noureddine and Hala Abdullah. Together with his brother, musician Bachar Khalifé, he scored, and performed a live soundtrack to the 1920s German film 'Faust', by Wilhelm Murnau and Gribiche by Jacques Feyder (1925). In 2011, Gribiche was broadcast on ARTE France.



Aufgang blend pianos, live drums, and techno-inspired electronics into invigorating displays of virtuosity, which evoke the club and the conservatory without really belonging to either one. Their name is German for "stairway"—an intermediate place, neither here nor there. Given to singing out ecstatically, Aufgang's self-titled debut highlights the emotional extravagance these two different worlds have in common. Aufgang's dual education, in the nightclub and the academy, shows in the historical and stylistic range of their music. [Pitchfork].

Rami Khalifé has toured Europe and the Middle East as part of electro-classic group Aufgang.[5] The trio- Rami Khalifé, Francesco Tristano Schlimé and Aymeric Westrich, have featured at festivals all over the world, including, Sonar (Barcelona, Spain), L.E.V. Festival (Gijon, Spain), Berghain (Berlin, Germany), La Roque D'antheron (Southern France), Beirut Music & Art Festival (Beirut, Lebanon). Aufgang performed live for Radio France and ARTE.

In early 2014, Aufgang announced that the group was parting ways with Francesco Tristano.


Rami Khalife and Francesco Tristano perform with two grand piano's as a duo in this inspired post- modern performance, from their album of the same name, POP ART. Put two Steinways head to toe so that they form a square. Draw a circle with a piece of chalk. The whole turns into a geometric figure, a ying yang only longing to sound. These two surrounded pianos, that s Pop Art. Two iron harps, and, sitting at the keyboards like symmetric figures on one playing card, Rami and Francesco, two runaway accomplices.

Marcel, Rami & Bachar Khalife[edit]

In 2011, a new familial collaboration debuted at the Beirut Music & Art Festival under the banner of 'Marcel, Rami & Bachar Khalife'. The concert showcased a fusion of oriental, electronic, classical and percussion music composed by the trio. The collaboration was critically acclaimed. The father-son trio presented a high-energy intermingling of the oud, piano and percussion, shrouded within the frisson of electronic synthesizers and korg keyboards.

The debut of Marcel, Rami & Bachar Khalife's at the Beirut Music & Art Festival 2011 concert sent shock waves through Beirut, with many commentators championing the collaborative performance as 'a revolution in music'. The 2 hour concert was broadcast on MTV.

"They came together through music. Through their fondness for innovation and their desire to transcend boundaries. They came together through an awareness, surrounded by hazards. They bonded in world's of musicality and humanity, resonating between poles of attraction and contention, between, love and opposition. They are inspired by the freedom to choose and experiment; to travel, carrying their memories, to new places resplendent with the colors of life and humanity. Marcel, Rami, and Bachar Khalifé are engaged today in a new journey of togetherness and joint artistic work that began in the year 2000 when both Rami and Bachar joined Al Mayadine Ensemble that Marcel established in the late 1970s.

It has been a rich journey, one that's allowed both Rami and Bachar to draw, both, inspiration and an artistic identity from this rich musical reservoir. While receiving they gave, both Rami and Bachar have left an indelible imprint on their father's work. Today's work is a distinct creative work marking a milestone along this path, as it bears compositions by Bachar, Rami, and Marcel in a new garb fashioned by all three, who participated in the design, execution, and performance – singing, playing, and artistic expression. The oud, piano, and percussion engage in a conversation of melody, playfulness, noisemaking, or love – elements that the three artists have long explored – traversing their entire range of dynamic extremes, from shouting to whispering, from an outpouring of passion to a diffident reserve . . . to the last note" - Marcel, Rami and Bachar Khalife.


Rami Khalifé received several awards, most notable among them Radio France, UFAM and Claude Kahn piano competitions. In 2009 the Lebanese Social Ministry honored him with a plaque of recognition for his efforts in raising the profile of de-mining initiatives and his advocacy for peace through music. Rami Khalife's latest work 'Chaos' was sponsored by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture


While best known for his re-envisioning of the classics, Rami Khalifé has featured as a soloist alongside world orchestras, including among others, Globalis Orchestra (Russia), the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, Liverpool Orchestra (UK) and Pau Bearn Orchestra (France).

Rami Khalifé has performed new repertoire from contemporary composers, the most recent of which was the Lebanese composer Abdullah Al Masri's piano concerto with both the Liverpool Orchestra and the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2011, he performed at the ending ceremony for the international piano festival 'La Roque d'Antheron' alongside Francesco Tristano in Bach double concerto in c-minor. The performance was broadcast live on ARTE France.

An active performer alongside composer and Oud player Marcel Khalifé, Rami Khalifé has performed fusion Arabic music in the North America, South America, Asia, Canada, Europe, Australia, in such venues as, the Kennedy Center (Washington, USA), the Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia), Opera House (Doha, Qatar), Place Des Arts (Montreal, Canada), Dar el Opera (Damascus, Syria), Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Salle Pleyel (Paris, France) and UNESCO Palace (Beirut, Lebanon).


Rami Khalife is married to journalist Mariam Saab,[6] they live in Paris with their son.


Rami Khalifé released:

  • Air on Fire (Aufgang | 2010)
  • Aufgang (Aufgang | 2010)
  • Chaos (2009)
  • Pop Art (Rami Khalifé & Francesco Tristano | 2008)
  • Piano Concertos (Rami Khalife | 2007)
  • Scene from Hellek (2005)
  • Live in Beirut (2002)

And featured on:

  • Concerto Al Andalus (Marcel Khalifé | 2002)
  • Caress (Marcel Khalifé | 2004)
  • Damascus Festival Chamber Players (2008)
  • Aah (Yolla Khalifé | 2011)
  • Oil Slick (Bachar Mar-Khalifé | 2010)
  • Not for Piano (Francesco Tristano)
  • The Green Armchair (Agoria | 2006)


  1. ^ a b http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/168963-chaos-for-piano-at-qpo-world-premiere.html
  2. ^ a b "Rami Khalife_Chaos for piano and orchestra.Part 1". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Rami Khalife_Chaos for piano and orchestra.Part 2". YouTube. 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  4. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Aufgang - Sonar". YouTube. 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  6. ^ "Mariam SAAB". France 24. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 

External links[edit]