When God created us, He gave us something worth living for. Such an impression is immediately apparent in the figure of the eminent economist Dr Rizal Ramli. Behind his firm, loud, and bold character, he is also known as a music enthusiast, especially fond of jazz and classical music. “Music is our family’s first love,” says Rizal, who was born in Padang, West Sumatra, on December 10, 1954. In Rizal’s family, hardly a day passes without music. In fact, he admits that he fell in love with his late wife, Ir. Herawati Ramli, M.Arch., an architect who graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, because she was a piano prodigy.
Their love story was truly a romantic one. They met at a classical music event held at the ITB Student Center in 1976. Rizal, who was an engineering physics major at ITB and who served as Chairman of Jazz and Classical Music Appreciation while there, witnessed Herawati playing classical songs during a piano recital. Rizal was moved and amazed and fell in love at first sight. “I had to struggle to win her heart because she was beautiful, nice, and tidy, while at that time, I had messy and long hair,” he laughs. “However, music was able to transcend our differences and unite us,” he recalls.
Rizal, who served as Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Finance under the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), also admits that when he was young, he was a fan of jazz. For him, the rhythms of jazz are lively, fun, and packed with free-form improvisation. No wonder he has hundreds of collections of jazz recordings from world-famous musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Al Jarreau, and many more.
Over time, Rizal’s love of classical music also grew. “You can enjoy classical music while reading and working,” he explains. “Music can be a positive energy to support and encourage us in our activities.” His favourite classical music composers include Gustav Mahler and Richard Wagner. For Rizal, listening to the symphonic compositions of such musicians can uplift one’s spirit and elevate a mood.
For Rizal, who earned his doctorate degree in economics from Boston University in the US, music is a source of creativity that can enhance feelings. “Music is the soul and the heart, while the mind is the logic. Ideally, we should be able to combine heart and soul with rationality,” he explains.
This story appears in the July 2018 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstands, or subscribe here.