She studied piano at the State Conservatory of Music in Ankara. Graduating from Ferhunde Erkin's class in 1958, she received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States. Ali completed her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA, where she studied with David Barnett, and at the Mannes College of Music in New York with Frank Sheridan. She holds a degree in Advanced Musical Studies from King's College London.
Filiz Ali was the head of the Musicology Department of Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul between 1990 and 2005, also founder and director of Ayvalik International Music Academy since 1998. She produced music programmes for the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation from 1962 to 1995 and has been the regular music critique for major daily newspapers including Cumhuriyet, Hürriyet, Yeni Yuzyil and Radikal.
She was the founding Artistic Director of the CRR Concert Hall in Istanbul between 1989 - 1992. Ali has been the Musical Advisor of the International Eskişehir Festival since 1995.
She is the author of seven books on music and musicians.