Biography

Karol Beffa, born in 1973, received both a liberal and musical education after having been a child-actor between ages of seven and twelve in over fifteen films. He acted with the Piccolo Teatro of Milan, directed by Giorgio Strehler, and portrayed eight-year-old Mozart in a television film by Marcel Bluwal. He also played Lino Ventura's son in that actor's last film, La Septième Cible ("The Seventh Target").

He was awarded First Prize at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm), and went on to do a degree in history, a master's degree in English, a master's degree in philosophy (from Cambridge University), and mathematics. He was awarded degrees from the French National School of Statistics and Economic Administration (ENSAE). He entered the Paris National Conservatory of music in 1988, and obtained eight first prizes - in harmony, counterpoint, the fugue, 20th century music, orchestration, analysis, vocal accompaniment, and piano improvisation. Ranking first in the competitive French education exam (agrégation) in music, he taught at the University of Paris-IV-Sorbonne from 1998 to 2003, and later at the Ecole Polytechnique (2003-2008). In 2003 he received a doctorate in musicology with a doctoral thesis on Studies for Piano by György Ligeti. He was appointed assistant professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm) in 2004.

As a pianist, Karol Beffa has performed as a soloist with an orchestra, playing at Salle Cortot, Salle Gaveau, the Radio France Festival in Montpellier, the Piano-en-Valois festival, the Halle au Grains in Toulouse, the Piano aux Jacobins festival, the Périgord Noir festival, and the Athenee Palace of Bucharest, among others. In addition, he gives concerts on a regular basis, accompanying silent films and readings at the Sorbonne, the Orsay Museum auditorium, the Forum des Images, the Rennes Opera house, and the Cinemathèque in Toulouse. He also gives concerts where he improvises on themes suggested by the audience - one of the few pianists to give this kind of performance in Europe.

As a composer, his works have been performed in France at the Salle Pleyel, the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Olivier Messiaen auditorium and the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, as well as in Germany, Italy, the UK, Russia, the United States, and Japan by prestigious ensembles such as A Sei Voci, the Maîtrise de Radio France, the Cambridge Voices, the Tapiloa Choir, and top orchestras that include the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, the Lyon Opera orchestra, the Bretagne orchestra, the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, the Baltic Chamber Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the National Orchestra of Ile-de-France, among others. He has also received commissions from many festivals, such as Saint-Lizier, Juventus, and the Festival of Sacred Art at the Sylvanès Abbey.

In the year 2000, he was chosen by International Festival of Young Artists in Turin (BIG Torino 2000) to represent France. In 2002, he was the youngest French composer to be included in the Présences Festival program. In 2004, the Musique en Tréfilerie Festival gave him a retrospective, and the Salon des Invalides offered him a "portrait" in the form of two concerts. A commission from Musique Nouvelle en Liberté, Fictions, has been performed nine times by the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire. In September of the same year, at the Bel-Air musical encounters, he was commissioned by the Capuçon brothers to write Masques. In July 2005, his oratorio-ballet on the life of Mary Magdalen was performed three times in Provence. In September, he was the only composer invited to the Périgord Noir festival, to which he returned in 2006. In March of the same year he created a piece for the Pau orchestra, conducted by Fayçal Karoui. This was the first time in France that a public subscription had been organized to commission a composer. As composer in residence with the Orchestre National du Capitole in Toulouse from 2006 to 2009, his Concerto for Violin, performed in January 2008, was unanimously applauded by the press. In May and June of 2008, Karol Beffa was the composer invited to the Auvers-sur-Oise festival and to the Suona Francese (French Sound) festival in Rome. In July of that year he joined "Pianissimes" in Neuville-sur-Saône, and in September of the same year the Philharmonia of Berlin performed his trio for flute, viola, and harp, co-commissioned by Marie-Pierre Langlamet and the Philharmonia Foundation of Berlin. In January 2009 his trio was performed at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, and in February a piece composed for the London Symphony Orchestra was performed at the Salle Pleyel. Later in March a piece for a baroque ensemble was performed at the CRR of Cergy, and in April a piece for string quartet for the Capuçon Quartet was premiered in Madrid. In May, his concerto for piano, composed at the request of Boris Berezovsky, was performed with the Orchestre National du Capitole.

As composer in residence of the CRR in Marseilles and the Young Talents festival, Karol Beffa wrote Les Vacances de Monsieur Haydn ("The Vacation of Mr. Haydn") in 2009, and was invited in March 2010 by the Voix du Printemps at the Sorbonne and in August 2011 to the Annecy Festival. During the summer of 2010, his first opera, inspired by Kafka's The Castle, was performed fifteen times in France, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Hungary. His ballet Corps et Âmes ("Bodies and Souls") with choreography by Julien Lestel was performed six times during 2011. In 2012, he wrote two musical stories for orchestra, one from L'Œil du Loup by Daniel Pennac (Théâtre du Châtelet, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris), and the other inspired by Voyage au pays des arbres, by Jean-Marie Le Clézio (at the Salle Pleyel, Orchestre National d'Ile-de-France). In November 2012, his second piano concerto will be premiered at the Salle Pleyel by the Orchestre de Paris with Andreas Haefliger. In 2013 his second opera, inspired by Kafka's Amerika, will tour France, Slovakia, Hungary, and Mexico.

Karol Beffa was awarded grants from the Institut de France in composition (2001) and from the Académie Musicale of Villecroze. He has won awards from the Lili and Nadia Boulanger Foundation (2001), a grant from Muses (2004), and he was a finalist in the international competition of Prades in 2005 and 2007. He won the Charles Oulmont prize in 2005, the Young Composer award from the SACEM in 2008, and the Charter prize from the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2008. In 2009, 2010, and 2011 he was one of the three nominees at the Victoires de la Musique in the category "best composer". He has been appointed Knight of Arts et Lettres and Knight of the Ordre du Mérite. He has composed fifteen film scores, and two theatre scores.