George Benjamin is a contemporary music composer, pianist and conductor. He has been enjoying an ever-increasing fame and his works are often performed.
George Benjamin began his musical education by studying the piano with Peter Gellhorn and Yvonne Loriod. He went on to study composition with Olivier Massiaen. At 17, he got in to the Conservatoire de Paris, he later also studied at King’s College Cambridge with Alexander Goehr.
His work Ringed by the Flat Horizon was played in BBC concerts when he was only 20 years old. A few years later, George Benjamin recorded his compositions for the first time, at Nimbus. IRCAM commissioned him to write a piece, Antara, which he conducted in 1987. His works have since been performed in all major musical European cities – London, Berlin, Madrid, Strasbourg…
George Benjamin has also taught composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and has conducted various orchestras including the London Sinfonietta, the Lyon Orchestra, and the Ensemble Musique Oblique (of which he is co-director). He also participated in festivals, such as Meltdown Festival, the Salzburg Festival, and Wet Ink Festival (which he founded in 1992), and composed for institutions. George Benjamin notably wrote Palimpsests for a London Symphony Orchestra tour, conducted by Pierre Boulez in the early 2000s.
His two stage works Into The Little Hill (2006, Opéra Bastille) and Written On Skin (2012, Aix-en-Provence Festival), were the result of a fruitful collaboration between him and the librettist Martin Crimp. They have been highly praised by both the critics and the public.
Six Landmark Dates in the Life of George Benjamin
1977 – Began the Conservatoire de Paris
1980 – At 20, he became the youngest composer to have a work performed at the BBC Proms
1992 – Became Founder and Artistic Director of Wet Ink, a contemporary music festival
1996 – Appointed Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts and des Lettres
2001 – Awarded the Schoenberg Composition Prize by the Germany Symphony Orchestra
2001 – Appointed as the Henry Purcell Chair of Composition at King’s College London
Six Key Works by George Benjamin
1980 - Ringed by the Flat Horizon, for orchestra
1987 - Antara, for sixteen instrumentalists and electronics
1995 - Three Inventions for Chamber Orchestra
2002 - Palimpsests, for orchestra
2006 - Into The Little Hill, opera for soprano, contralto and ensemble
2012 - Written on Skin, opera, libretto by Martin Crimp based on a 12th century occitane legend