Meet Antonija Pacek, Neoclassical & Cinematic Music Composer from Osijek

Daniela Rogulj

TCN meets Antonija Pacek, a composer and pianist who writes instrumental music, loves pop as much as classical melodies, digs the expressiveness of the great Jazz-soloists and holds a degree in psychology.

A little bit about Antonija 

Antonija was born in Osijek, Croatia and began piano lessons at the local music school at the age of six. At the age of eleven, she composed her first song ‘Tamed Courage’ which is included on her debut album Soul Colours

In 2013, she signed a contract with Autentico Music label in Germany. In April 2014, Autentico Music published her debut CD, Soul Colours, which received many positive reviews from various German Newspapers and Magazines. German critics referred to the music from Soul Colours to be “beautiful, like a radiant jewel”, “a female response to Ludovico Einaudi”, and “resembling Erik Satie’s as well as Keith Jarrett’s The Cologne Concert”. The album was no. 4 on the iTunes classical music charts in Germany, and in 2015, Antonija signed a contract with Warner Chappell, the music publishing arm of Warner Music, for Soul Colours.

The composer studied in Vienna and the University of Cambridge

After finishing high school, Antonija went to Vienna to study psychology, where she completed her B.A. degree in psychology at Webster University with various awards. Her master degree in psychology was achieved at the University of Cambridge, the UK, with the specialized area of ‘Investigation of Human Development’. 

For years she worked as an HR consultant with Hewitt Associates and the Center for Creative Leadership. Antonija has taught psychology at three different universities in Vienna and near Vienna and has worked as a freelance consultant, doing soft skills training within various organizations. During her studies, she married her high school love, and together they have three beautiful girls.

Because of the war, and because she was living abroad, Antonija was not able to have the luxury of a piano between the ages of 17-23. During these years, all of the money she earned was invested in her education.

When she received a piano from her husband as a gift in 1999, she played any free chance she had from work. Antonija claims the music found her and has composed many compositions since then (more than 70 compositions, to be exact).

Coming from Croatia, what was Antonija’s experience in both Vienna and the U.K.?

Antonija’s carefree teenage life was interrupted by the war, and she was just 17 when the city was bombed for the first time. A series of fortunate coincidences led her to receive a work-study scholarship at an American university in Vienna to study psychology, her second interest. Although she worked many jobs (from making cakes and cleaning apartments to babysitting, being a librarian, working at the university reception, and more) throughout her time at university, she graduated with the highest honors in record time and was accepted to continue with the master’s program at the University of Cambridge. Just before going to Cambridge, she married the love of her life at the age of 21. They had met when she was only 16 and they are still happily married today.

After her studies in Vienna, Antonija was accepted to the University of Cambridge. To pay all of the Cambridge fees, she sold her beloved piano, her father sold his old car, her in-laws helped, and her husband worked to support her university expenses during that time. At the University of Cambridge, she discovered a grand piano in one of the halls, and in her rare moments of free time, she would sneak into the hall to play – and play and play some more. She successfully finished with an M.Phil degree in psychology at Cambridge. After accomplishing her degree, her first job was to teach psychology at an International University for Hotel Management and then at Webster University. Three of her students also enrolled at the University of Cambridge and they finished Doctorate degrees successfully. Her students considered Antonija to be their role model. 

How did Antonija first discover her love of music?

“It was a strange sight,” said the artist. A determined six-year-old girl walked alone into the office of a public music school to ask a bewildered administrator if she could take the tests to play the piano. When the administrator asked the girl where her mother or father was, she replied: “They are working.” 

“But how did you get here on your own?” asked the administrator. Antonija replied:”I live just around the corner. Could I try and play the piano now, please?”

For Antonija, the sound of the piano was more than love at first sight. On her daily walks to and from the kindergarten, Antonija and her mother would pass by the music school, and the sounds of the piano could be heard on the streets through the open windows. Antonija often asked her mother if they could sit on the bench outside or sneak into the building, just to listen to the music. During meals at home, Antonija would pretend she was playing the piano on the kitchen table. 

Soon after her first visit to the school, she found out that she passed the admissions test. Her parents were surprised and delighted that she went there on her own and that the school gladly accepted her.  

Does she play anything other than the piano?

“Piano, and a little bit of cello,” said Antonija, but she is learning to play the guitar with her middle daughter who started her first year as of this September. 

Did Antonija always know she wanted to be a musician and composer?

Since her childhood, Antonija knew that she wanted to play the piano, but the music started coming to her at the age of 11. She played in a band in Osijek and wrote parts for the keyboard when her group wrote new songs. 

After many years away from the piano, Antonija played as much as she could once she got her hands on the instrument again. All of her stories and emotions are connected and embedded into her compositions. She usually begins by hearing some parts of the song, and when she sits near her piano, she can complete her first idea and create a complete song within an hour or so – that is, if she’s not interrupted. 

Antonija considers music her therapy when she is sad or stressed. Her music tells honest stories, which are directly inspired by various events and people. Antonija believes composing as a healing process when unfortunate things are happening around her. 

Where does Antonija find her inspiration?

“In the happy moments of my life, or when I lost both of my parents within 6 months in a single year, in my joy of getting three girls or from interactions with my daughters, from being loved by my husband, from my close friends’ happy and sad moments, from some events or books that I read that have touched my heart,” said the composer. 

Who are Antonija’s musical influences?

There are too many artists, musicians and composers that she loves and that influence her, and they come from dance music, pop music, the classical genre, and jazz. While there are too many to cover them all, a few names to mention include David Bowie, Prince, Sade, Beach Boys, Sam Cook, Steve Wonder, Robert Robertson, U2, Brian Ferry, Sting, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 or Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, John Cole Train, or Faure, Mozart, Bach, Satie, Tchaikovsky, Mendelson, Lloyd Webber, and many more.  

What does Antonija consider her musical “breakthrough”? 

“I had several compositions in the early 2000s, and whenever I played them to my friends, they would cry to the saddest songs. My friends and family encouraged me to pursue this further and to get the songs published – and I did just that!”

Which of Antonija’s albums does she consider most representative of her as a composer?

Antonija claims that her compositions and composing of music is ever-evolving. Her latest album is more representative of her as it shows her versatility as a composer. It compiles many different stories, and thus ways of writing those songs.

Antonija’s plans for the future?

The musician played two concerts on the island of Lopud this year and plans to tour Italy in April 2018. Ultimately, she plans to play more shows and get in touch with the audience.

You can find Antonija’s music on her website

Thank you, Antonija, for sharing your beautiful story. We wish you the best of luck! 


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment