Emil started to play piano in quite early age. His grandfather Victor Wiklitzky had brought from Vienna concert grand piano “Hoffbauer” as a wedding gift for his musically gifted bride. Emil was born in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), where in 1971 he graduated from Palacky University with a degree in mathematics. While a student he devoted much time to playing jazz piano. In 1974, he was awarded the prize for best soloist at the Czechoslovak Amateur Jazz Festival, and that same year he joined Karel Velebny's SHQ ensemble. In 1976, he was a prizewinner at the jazz improvisation competition in Lyon, and his composition “Green Satin” (Zeleny saten) earned him first prize in the music conservatory competition in Monaco, where in 1985 his “Cacharel” won second prize in the same competition.
In 1977 Emil was awarded a 4 year's scholarship to study composition and arrangement with Herb Pomeroy at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He then continued his composition studies with Jarmo Sermila, George Crumb and Vaclav Kucera. Since his return to Prague he has been directing his own ensembles (primarily quartets and quintets), composing and arranging music and - since the death of Karel Velebny - working as director of the Summer Jazz Workshops in Frydlant. He has also lectured at a similar workshop event in Glamorgan, Wales. Between 1991 and 1995 Viklicky was President of the Czech Jazz Society, and since 1994 he has worked with the Ad lib Moravia ensemble, whose performances combine elements of Moravian folk music, modern jazz and contemporary serious music. In 1996 the ALM ensemble undertook a highly successful concert tour of Mexico and the United States.
As a pianist, Emil often performs in international ensembles alongside musicians from the U.S. and other European countries. Back in 1983-89 Emil worked with the Lou Blackburn International Quartet, the Benny Bailey Quintet, and American multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson. He has made frequent appearances in Finland (with the Finnczech Quartet and in particular with Jarmo Sermila) and Norway (with the Czech-Norwegian Big Band and Harald Gundhus) and has performed in the USA, Japan, Mexico, Israel, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (at the North Sea Festival) and elsewhere. The editor of Rolling Stone Jan Wenner wrote of Emil that “It was a delightful surprise to see such first-class, top-of-the-line jazz in Prague.”
Emil has become noted for his unique synthesis of the melodicism and tonalities of Moravian folk song with modern jazz. As English critic Euan Dixon wrote in 2005 “Emil Viklicky is one of those European jazz pianists who successfully incorporated elements of his indigenous folk culture into jazz”.
As composer Viklicky has attracted attention abroad primarily for having created a synthesis of the expressive elements of modern jazz with the melodicism and tonalities of Moravian folk song that is distinctly individual in contemporary jazz. Besides this, however, he also composes 'straight-ahead' modern jazz as well as chamber and orchestral works that utilize certain elements of the New Music, and at times his music requires a combination of classical and jazz performers.
Emil also composes incidental and film music and has produced scores for several full-length feature films and television series. Throughout the 1990s he has devoted an increasing amount of time to the composition of contemporary classical music for a great variety of instrumental combinations ranging from small chamber ensembles and electronic instruments to symphony orchestras and choruses. Viklicky's work has gained him quite a number of prestigious awards. These include second prize in the 1985 Monaco jazz composition competition (for "Cacharel"), the 1991 Film and Television Association prize for music for animated films, second prize at the 1994 Marimolin contemporary music competition in Boston (for "Tristana"), a 1996 Prague award for electroacoustic music (for "Paradise Park"), a 1996 Czech Music Fund prize for use of folk music in art music, and first prize in a 2000 international OPERA composition competition in Prague (for the opera Phaedra). In 2009 Emil recorded CD “Sinfonietta – Janácek of Jazz”, for VENUS Records, Japan,with George Mraz – bass, Lewis Nash – drums. Another cd for VENUS followed in 2011: “Kafka on the Shore”. This cd got Nissan prize for "The best sound CD in Japan". In 2011 Emil received “Medal of Merrit” from Czech president Vaclav Klaus for lifelong music achievements.