Ratko Delorko

Composer - Pianist - Educator




Play Classical music through the glasses of a composer.

I, Ratko Delorko, discovered the piano as my favourite toy at the tender age of three. It took me another three years to discover the piano as a creative tool for writing my youthful compositions.

My professional background—my formative years—were shaped by studying piano, composition and conducting in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Munich. I have had the privilege of performing in such varied venues as the Berlin Philharmonie, the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Gasteig in Munich, the Philharmonie in Essen, Hamburg's Musikhalle, the Glocke in Bremen, London's St. Martin in the Fields, Paleau de la Musica in Valencia, Beijing's Concert Hall, Shanghai's Oriental Arts Center, Cairo Opera House and others.

In my beloved program, entitled “The History of the Piano,” I play compositions on 22 authentic instruments from different periods and narrate the development of the piano from its inception until the present day.

To a lesser degree my musical inclinations also include performing jazz and rock music.

Music for solo piano, piano duet, chamber music, electronic music, opera and ballet are fields in which my primary efforts are concentrated as a composer.

Currently, I lecture at the Frankfurt University of Music. In the past, I have conducted master classes and served as guest professor in Malaysia, Russia, Italy, Croatia, the US, Vietnam and China, and I continue to do so to the present day. My book on the piano has been published by „Staccato-Verlag, Düsseldorf“.

Private Lessons / Coaching - Coaching for Diploma and Competition - Lessons for Upcoming Professionals and Enthusiasts - Long Distance Lessons Studio located in Ratingen, Germany, Full Concert Grand, Period Instruments, Video and Audio Recording Facilities. For details and appointments please call +49 172 6205349 or send an email to delorko@gmx.de



What does music mean to you personally?

Since I was a kid I knew I would compose & perform. And I did it against all odds.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Fantasy and imagination are a big part. But to make it audible you have to sit down and practice & write and be consistent. So the non-artistic part is called discipline.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I can fix cars. So probably I would own a garage.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

Well, a part of the problem is homemade from the 70s onwards. Kids were not taken any more to school concerts or to the theatre. Our government considered that cultural development “elite” and spread the money elsewhere. These lost generations today have the money to go to concerts but they never learned to enter the temple and enjoy well-being from hand-made, high-class live music. They stay home, enjoy some streaming or spend their money for musicals, while new concert halls are built! The new venues are “out-sourced” and operated by holdings - even if they are empty for a lot of days, they are useful for tax deduction. They play headliner acts for huge money or they do not operate. The mid-range is cut out and smaller venues struggle hard and can only afford cheap acts. Remember: Cheap work ain’t good and good work ain’t cheap.

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

Today the musical world takes place on social media, too, and it is a huge chance for us musicians to recalibrate. Modern art: Exhibitions work fantastically. Architecture is doing great. Modern movies are award-winning. Even the ballet can be proud of contemporary choreography. But contemporary music? The best sold CDs still feature romantic piano music. As composers from the late 20th century were very happy to chase away their listeners (“an empty hall is a good hall”) they did incredible damage to the potential audience. This audience learned to hate and reject classical contemporary music. We as composers have to rebuild a lot of trust as listeners are afraid of contemporary music.

When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind?

Media production became very democratic. You do not need to sign with a major label today if you are good at producing. What can they do for you what you can’t do yourself? CD-sales don’t happen any more in the big stores. It happens at concerts and online if you build your fan base.

Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? What’s the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

We need to diversify more. Just playing the piano fast and loud is not enough. I see that stuff when I am judging in international piano competitions. I note that there a lot of copy cats out there but I don’t call that creative. We need a deeper understanding of the roots from which classical music is delivered. Period instruments, essays from the 18th century on musical performance. The technical understanding of our modern instrument is mandatory. And: being familiar with musical software, audio and video recording.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generations into classical music concerts? How would you proceed?

What I do: I go into schools, present my music to the kids and the kiddos are delighted to meet a living composer.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favorite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

My working process begins with small ideas collected in a little handwritten sketchbook. From opera to piano concerto. All in there. Then I start playing around with the little things on the piano. So, improvisation is a big resource for me. Classical composers mostly did the same. They improvised and then condensed it. The process of condensing the material and considering a formal structure is time consuming. I jump back and forth from the computer as my music sheet and the piano. I also consider different pianos as a source for inspiration. I make constant changes in the material on every day of the process. When the changes get less and less - this is the moment to get it nailed down. More changes would not lead to real improvements.

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

I try to interact with these fields. With the German actor, Reiner Schöne, I recorded Schumann’s “Papillions” on an 1850 Klems fortepiano. Schöne reads from Jean Paul’s book, “The Stupid Years,” the relevant chapter, “Dance of the Larve,” and Schumann’s diary from the 1830s.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Get connected with classical musicians from the same age and dive into it. The power of social media.

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk say that classical music is getting into the consumer business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” or, in your case, your compositions. How do you see it?

We have to get away from the feeling that selling our music is artistically bad. Yes, we do it for the arts. But if we don’t sell our art we will loose the ability to create our art and start driving night cabs or flipping burgers to make a minimal living. Hey, nothing bad about flippin’ burgers but in this moment our art dies. And it is a the point of no return. So, an essential part of art is being proud of it, the people want it if it is pleasant and of high quality. So, sell it and make more art out of it! The idea of a high-class but starving artist is absolute B.S..

Do you have expectations regarding your listeners, your audience?

You do not need to be a musical expert. It’s me. I take you at the hand and lead you through the show. Just sit down and enjoy. Perhaps I can bring your memories back - that would be a huge achievement.

What projects are coming up?

There are constantly about 10 projects cooking in the pot. Don’t know where to bang my head first but this hasn't changed over the last 30 years. As a matter of fact: out of 10 projects, one becomes really amazing, others are doing ok and a few may get stuck due to the most stupid and unexpected reasons. I will not waste time on those but fill up the pot immediately with new options.

Do you experiment in your projects?

I experiment and sometimes I fail. There are two options: if it works out, I am delighted and I will carry on. If I fail, I do not loose—but I learn. Small daily improvements eventually result in enormous advantages. So, sometimes I „fail“ forward to improve…