Karol Beffa

Composer and Pianist

With the eight prizes he won at the Paris Conservatoire and a brilliant education throughout the best French schools, Karol Beffa stands out as one of the most talented musicians of his time. Many times rewarded for his work, he is all at once composer, pianist, improviser and teacher.

Karol Beffa was born on October the 27th 1973 in Paris. He is a Franco-Swiss composer, pianist and academic with Polish roots. His parents are a linguist and a mathematician.
As a child, he first acted, notably appearing as Young Mozart in a Marcel Bluwal TV movie, before moving on to music. In 1988, at the age of 14, he was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire (CNSM), where he won many awards, including eight Premier Prix (harmony, counterpoint, fugue, twentieth century music, orchestration, analysis, vocal accompaniment and piano improvisation). 

He also pursued an intellectual career that led him to earn an impressive number of degrees. This culminated with a doctorate in Twentieth Century Musicology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), in 2003. The topic of his thesis was - György Ligeti's Piano Studies: Sound, Imagination and Theatre.

He taught at the University Paris IV from 1998 to 2003 and at the École Polytechnique between 2003 and 2009. He has been a lecturer at ENS since 2004, and was composer-in-residence at the Orchestre National de Toulouse, from 2006 to 2009

He is also a member of Le Siècle, a group that includes as members artists such as Michel Dalberto, Emmanuel Krivine, Nicolas Le Riche and Guillaume Gallienne. He was also a Young Leader of the Franco-American Foundation, in 2005, dedicated to strengthening ties between France and the United States, and went on to be a Young Leader of the German Marshall Fund, which aims to promote transatlantic relations, in 2007. 

In the 2012/2013 academic year, the Collège de France appointed Beffa to the Chair in Artistic Creation, on the recommendation of mathematician Pierre-Louis Lions. He is the youngest holder since its inception. 

Beffa is also a composer: his works have been performed by famous vocal ensembles such as A Sei Voci, the Radio France Choir, the Cambridge Voices, the Tapiola Choir, the Orchestre de Paris Choir, the Notre Dame Choir, as well as by some of the greatest orchestras (including the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, Lyon Opera Orchestra, Pays de la Loire National Orchestra, Brittany Orchestra, Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, the Baltic Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de chambre de Paris, the Île-de-France National Orchestra, the American Wind Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris).

March 2006 saw the premiere of one of his works by the Orchestre de Pau, conducted by Fayçal Karoui. It was the first time in France that the public had commissioned a work directly from the composer.