BEATA HLAVENKOVÁ (b. 1978)
Beata Hlavenková – pianist, composer, singer, arranger and producer, is one of the most prominent contemporary musicians with an unmistakable cross-genre handwriting. Her main motto is courage – the courage to experiment, to look for unconventional harmonies and arrangements. Genre freedom, based on a deep awareness of jazz, modern classical music, pop and songwriting, is intertwined in all her projects with a clearly recognizable focused and sensitive interpretation. She published her own albums and got prestigious music awards, collaborates with both Czech and world musicians, composes music for film and theater, and arranges songs for symphony orchestras. At the heart of it all is “music with a spark that won’t just go out,” as music publicist Tomáš S. Polívka wrote.
She studied composition at the Janáček Conservatory in Ostrava, continued for three years at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory, and obtained a Masters of Music degree in 2004 at the American University of Massachusetts in the field of composition, jazz composition and arranging. At the time of her studies in USA she was selected for the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency program at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. (2002).
Her first album with jazz compositions is named S’aight. She founded an art project with the same name with her husband, guitarist Patrik Hlavenka (Patrick Karpentski).
In the years 2006 – 2013 she led her jazz trio, after the release of the award-winning album Theodoros in 2013 she most often plays solo in the Czech Republic and abroad. Very original and long-term projects were created in collaboration with Lenka Dusilová; both the Eternal Seekers project, in which she worked with Clarinet Factory, and two albums with the Baromantika project. In parallel, she has collaborated on various projects with figures such as Iva Bittová, Jiří Havelka, David Ondříček, David Koller, Jaromír Honzák, Vladivojna La Chia, Věra Martinová, Petr Ostrouchov, Dorota Barová, Dagmar Voňková, Vojtěch Nýdl, Oto Klempíř, Justin Lavash or the dance group VerTeDance and others.
She recorded her first album Joy for Joel (2009) in the United States with musicians such as Ingrid Jensen, Rich Perry and others, followed by the piano solo album Theodoros (winning the Anděl Award in the Jazz and blues category) and the sound-diverse Scintilla, which features accomplished guests such as cellist Jiří Bárta, clarinetist Evan Zyporyn (Paul Simon, Bang on a Can) Norwegian percussionist Kenneth Ekornes (Mari Boine) and others. Solo piano album “Bethlehem” from 2017 shows that Hlavenková can bring a completely new perspective to such traditional material as Christmas carols.
In 2019, the album Sně was released, on which she presented herself as a singer for the first time. The album won her the Anděl Award in the Artist of the Year 2019 category. The current album Žijutě with many guests such as David Stypka, Ota Kempíř, Rich Perry, released in October 2021, follows up on Sně and showcases Hlavenková as a lyricist. The album reflects her hobbies in modern sound design.
For the last two years she has been performing with the Kapela Snů, which consists of her key musical partners mainly from her last two albums – Oskar Török and Patrick Karpentski.
In August 2021, her soundtrack to the successful Czech film Zátopek was released. After the musical accompaniment of the two-part television film Dukla 61, this is the second collaboration with director David Ondříček.
Hlavenková is also involved in work for children, she is the author of the double album Pišlické příběhy, which was created in collaboration with Filip Rychlebský. She is also the co-author of music for the book Ó, ó, ó, vajíčko by Ester Stará, she is also the author of songs for several episodes of the Czech TV series Mini Uni.
She has won several awards – in addition to the two Anděl awards she was awarded the Jantar and Cieszynit awards among others.
She releases her albums on Animal Music and Minority Records. Both on CD (Animal Music) and on quality vinyl’s (Minority Records). Most of the albums were also mastered in London, either at Metropolis Sound Studios Tony Cousins or Abbey Road.
From the very beginning, her pedagogical activity has been a permanent part of her musical career. She operates at the Prague branch of New York University, previously also at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory and at JAMU in Brno, where together with Patrik Hlavenka (Karpentski) they founded the first ever university studies in jazz music in the Czech Republic. She is also a mentor of the MenArt Academy in the field of authorial work. According to her, music education for children and students should undergo a certain revision, which would include an emphasis on specific focus, working with a given talent, emphasis on the joy of music, elimination of grading and fear of judging, simply put – an effective and helpful guidance to practicing music, creative process itself and thus to the training of educated listeners.
- S’aight (2004)
- Eternal Seekers (2008)
- Joy For Joel (2009)
- Theodoros (2013)
- Baromantika – V hodině smrti (2014)
- Scintilla (2015)
- Pišlické příběhy (2015)
- Bethlehem (2017)
- Sně (2019)
- Zátopek (2021)
- Žijutě (2021)
- Lenka Dusilová – Baromantika (2011) – co-producer, co-author, player
- Iva Bittová – Zvon (2013) – arranger, author, player
- Ó,ó,ó, vajíčko – (2019) – co-author, player
- Dagmar Voňková – Archa (2020) – arranger, player
- Vojtěch Nýdl – Dítě z větru (2021) – music producer, co-author, player
“I re-played the album several times to find out if my enthusiasm peters out eventually – but I still believe that this is the one really extraordinary occurrence on the Czech music scene,“ (album Joy For Joel)
“Pianist and composer Beata Hlavenková made a musical parable about how to exceed the average. Her Scintilla album shines forth on the whole European scene.”
“She demonstrates throughout, remarkable poise between exuberance and introspection, technical virtuosity and stylistic simplicity, conservatory and spontaneity, the pieces showcasing her exquisite timing, delicacy and command of the keys in myriad styles from minimalism to Debussy-esque impressionism with touches of jazz among the many details revealed with each listen. Housed in a handsome calendar with images of extracted piano parts, the album’s context is complete and compelling, and nothing is overdone in deed or sentiment, making it safe to conclude that Hlavenková’s gift is our gift also.” (album Theodoros)
“I’ve been listening to the recorded output of Beata Hlavenková for a number of years now. I was first introduced to her work via the album Theodoros by my mastering engineer, Tony Cousins, a man with impeccable taste, and it struck me as a rare example of someone working between genres, with a beautifully innate, but restrained, melodicism, extraordinary acuity, and remarkable, seemingly effortless, dexterity. Her performance on that album, although not derivative in any way, reminded me a little of Sakamoto’s earlier piano stylings, possibly in its diversity and aesthetics as much as anything, which is a rare comparison for me to make, a compliment I couldn’t afford many pianists.
Since that time Beata and I have communicated frequently and I’ve kept abreast of her work as composer, instrumentalist, orchestrator and, more recently, vocalist. Her talent allows her to excel in a variety of music genres whilst her own work tends to defy clear definition.
I remain curious as to where her, as yet untapped potential, will take Beata from here.”
“Bethlehem is an album that will enter in history due to its tenderness, humility, desire and unbridled joy. Her humanness is palpable, the atmosphere absolutely unique. To enter the music world of Beata Hlavenková is to stare mystery and miracle face to face.”