Jacob Beranek (b. 1998) is a Wisconsin-born, New York-based composer and pianist. His compositions, hailed as "refreshingly upbeat and infectiously melodic" (Fanfare), are infused with his love of craft and his interest in traditions—musical, religious, or even his Czech heritage.
Beranek served as the inaugural Composer-in-Residence of the Midsummer’s Music Festival (Door County, Wisconsin) from 2017–20. His works have been championed by the GRAMMY®-nominated ALIAS Chamber Ensemble (Nashville), Band of the Castle Guards & Czech Police (Prague), Blair Brass Quintet and Blair String Quartet (Nashville), Dolce Suono Ensemble (Philadelphia), Euterpe Quintet (Seoul, South Korea), The Gesualdo Six (London), and Wisconsin Philharmonic (Waukesha), soloists Peter Sheppard Skærved and Mimi Stillman, as well as choreographers Sidra Bell and Kannen Glanz. Mikel Toms and the Brno Philharmonic (Brno, Czechia) recorded his Pilgrimatic Overture as part of ABLAZE Records’ ninth “Orchestral Masters” album, released in 2023.
A recipient of the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Beranek has also garnered recognition in competitions such as the American Prize for Composition, the National Federation of Music Clubs Beyer Awards, and The Gesualdo Six Composition Competition, in which he received first place for ages 21-and-under worldwide. He was the first composer at Juilliard to have music featured in the Juilliard New Dances series while still a student and was one of the winners of Juilliard’s 2022–23 Orchestra Composition Competition, with a premiere in Alice Tully Hall in March 2023.
After receiving his Bachelor of Music in Composition from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, Beranek is now pursuing a Master of Music at The Juilliard School as a student of John Corigliano. A dedicated scholar of Czech music, Beranek was honored by the American ambassador to Czechia in 2018 during a performance of his music in Prague Castle for the country’s centenary celebration.
In all of my compositions, I strive to achieve one main goal: to uplift the audience and the performers. I believe that each piece of music is a living organism, which should point towards truth, beauty, and goodness. This is not to say that my work is necessarily "happy" or programmatic. Rather, in upholding a tradition of craftsmanship, I strive to convey hope and direction by making every piece the best version of itself possible—music full of integrity.
I trust performers as co-creators, artists who bring my art to life. I am just as invested in writing music that is idiomatically challenging and edifying for the performers, as I am in writing music that will communicate to audiences. In fact, I believe a composer cannot have one without the other—for if the performer's time is wasted, the performance will not communicate; and if the audience is alienated, what use is a well-rehearsed performer?
More than anything, though, it is my ardent wish to glorify God with what I write, to employ the gifts of the Creator in a creative way. Thus, it is my conviction that music provides the most powerful, spiritual method of communication available to me, and it is through this that I feel called to bring harmony into a dissonant world.
"Bohu díky," the Czech phrase meaning "Thanks be to God," can be
found at the end of all my pieces. This not only reflects my heritage,
but also my Christian faith, which I pray guides every note I write.