Jacob Beranek (b. 1998) is a Wisconsin-born, New York-based composer and pianist. His compositions, inspired by a love of melody and craftsmanship, are infused with his interest in historical traditions—musical, religious, or even his Czech heritage.
Beranek served as the inaugural Composer-in-Residence of the Midsummer's Music Festival (Door County, WI) from 2017-20, and his works have been championed by the GRAMMY®-nominated ALIAS Chamber Ensemble (Nashville), Band of the Castle Guards & Czech Police (Prague), Dolce Suono Ensemble (Philadelphia), Euterpe Quintet (Seoul, South Korea), Gesualdo Six (London), and Wisconsin Philharmonic (Waukesha, WI), as well as acclaimed soloists Peter Sheppard Skærved, Mimi Stillman, and Leslie Norton. Maestro Mikel Toms and the Brno Philharmonic (Brno, Czechia) recorded his Pilgrimatic Overture as part of ABLAZE Records’ ninth “Orchestral Masters” album, to be released in 2022.
His work has garnered international 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. Upcoming performance locations include the Jarvis Opera Center in Chicago and the Vanderbilt Musik Akademie in Berlin.
Beranek received his Bachelor of Music in Composition from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, and is now pursuing a Master of Music from 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.