Born in 1956, he graduated with honours from Józef Stojko’s percussion class at Cracow’s Academy of Music (1981). He continued his studies with Luigi Torrebruno and Franco Campioni in Italy. For many years, as a soloist and chamber musician, he has taken part in Poland’s most important contemporary music festivals including Warsaw Autumn, Poznań Musical Spring, Musica Polonica Nova in Wrocław, Sacrum-Profanum, Audio-Art, as well as festivals in Dresden, Nuremberg, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Moscow, Kyoto, Sendai, Tokyo, Pristina, and Bratislava. He is a founding member of Cracow Percussion Group and the Muzyka Centrum Artistic Association, as well as Mr. Bober’s Friends group. He also played in the Laboratorium jazz band, Crossover Trio, and Marek Grechuta’s group Anawa. He collaborated with MW2 ensemble, Cracow Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Giovanile in the Italian Lanciano, Opera Factory in Zurich, Basel Chamber Orchestra, and on the production of the musical Cats in Zurich. He has performed and recorded extensively with the majority of Poland’s leading jazz and pop musicians. As a sideman, he has recorded about 100 LPs and CDs with contemporary, jazz, pop and symphonic music. In 1993, he founded his own band, Inside Drumming, originally playing live (as one of the first band in Poland) at screenings of silent movies. Later, it created it own multimedia concerto show Inside Drumming with the participation of filmmaker Longin Szmyd and graphic artist Ewa Grabowska. The music for this show was released on the CD Jan Pilch – Inside Drumming in 2008.
Jan Pilch has premiered works by composers such as Krystyna Moszumańska–Nazar, Bogusław Schaeffer, Hanna Kulenty, Ryszard Szeremeta, Z. Abril, Agata Zubel, Magdalena Długosz and Anna Zawadzka-Gołosz.
He has conducted masterclasses at international courses of contemporary music interpretation in Stuttgart, Schwaz, Kazimierz on the Vistula, Radziejowice, and Cracow. In 1994–96 he was a soloist of Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria.
Since 1982, Jan Pilch has been a lecturer at the Academy of Music in Cracow, where he holds the Chair of Contemporary Music and Jazz. In 2002, he was granted the title of Professor of Musical Arts. He has promoted more than 25 graduates, most of whom are active as jazz or classical musicians. His students have been awarded in international competitions (Amadrums Trio, Dawid Fortuna, Wojciech Fedkowicz).
He is also the founder and artistic director of the International Percussion Festival “Sources and Inspirations”. He has frequently headed the juries of international competitions of contemporary and percussion music (in Cracow and Nuremberg).
In recent years, he has organised intensive international courses of percussion on the subject of Fundamentals of Anthropomotorics and Stage Presence Techniques in Percussion Performance (ASTAPER), conducted by lecturers from Italy, Germany and Spain as well as experts from the Academy of Physical Education and the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Cracow.