Swiss and French, Karol Beffa also studied general and musical studies after having been a child actor between the ages of seven and twelve in more than fifteen films (he played with the Piccolo Teatro di Milano under the direction of Giorgio Strehler and performed Mozart at the age of eight in Marcel Bluwal’s TV film).
Received first at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, he studied history (bachelor’s degree), English (master’s degree), philosophy (master’s degree at Cambridge University) and mathematics. He entered the CNSM in Paris in 1988, where he won eight first prizes (harmony, counterpoint, fugue, 20th century music, orchestration, analysis, vocal accompaniment, piano improvisation). Received first in the agrégation de musique, he teaches at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne (1998-2003). In 2003, he obtained a doctorate in musicology by defending a thesis on Ligeti’s piano studies. Since 2004, he has been a lecturer at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. He was elected, for the year 2012-2013, to the annual chair of artistic creation at the Collège de France and supported an Habilitation à diriger des recherches in 2015.
In 2000, the International Biennale of Young Artists of Turin selected him to represent France. In 2002, he was the youngest French composer programmed at the Présences festival. Composer in residence of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse from 2006 to 2009, he composed a violin concerto created by Renaud Capuçon and a piano concerto created by Boris Berezovski. A pianist, he regularly accompanies silent films, readings of texts and improvises on themes proposed by the audience. Composer, he is the author of about twenty film scores and three stage scores. In 2016 he was awarded the Grand Prix lycéen des compositeurs and in 2017 the Grand Prix de la musique symphonique de la SACEM for his entire career. In 2013 and 2018, he won the Victoires de la Musique classique.
In 2015, he published (with Cédric Villani, Flammarion) Les Coulisses de la création and, in 2016, György Ligeti (Fayard). In 2017: Talking, Composing, Playing. Seven lessons on music (Threshold). In 2018 : Diabolus in opera. Compose with voice (Alma) and four-handed Anagrams. A roaming story of musicians and their works (with Jacques Perry-Salkow, Actes Sud). Latest monographic CDs released: Into the Dark (Aparte), Blow up and En blanc et noir (Indesens), Douze Etudes (AdVitam).