Artist© Rui Camilo
The British composer and conductor George Benjamin is one of the most influential artists in contemporary music. His steep career has been associated with great names from the very beginning. Born in London in 1960, Benjamin began studying music at the Westminster School when he was 14 and lived in Paris from 1976 to 1979 to study with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod. The orchestral work ›Ringed by the Flat Horizon‹ was performed at the BBC Proms in 1980 and laid the cornerstone for his career as a composer. In 1984, George Benjamin returned to Paris to perfect his capabilities by studying with Pierre Boulez at the IRCAM.
In 1987, George Benjamin created the ensemble work ›Antara‹ to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this important French institution; in 1995, for the 75th anniversary of the Salzburg Festival, it was followed by ›Three Inventions for Chamber Orchestra‹. Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of ›Palimpsest I and II‹ in 2002. In 2008, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst gave the world premiere of Benjamin’s Piano Concerto ›Duet‹.
Thanks to his self-critical and painstaking working method, Benjamin’s catalogue of works is not overly long. He derives inspiration from the immediate sensual experience of his surroundings: a special light effect, the impression of a storm or the sound of an instrument – but often also »indirectly«, from literary and visual depictions of landscapes.
George Benjamin is also a successful conductor, leading the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest and the Berlin Philharmonic, among others. He has conducted numerous world premieres by composers such as Wolfgang Rihm, Unsuk Chin, Gérard Grisey and György Ligeti. He is a professor of composition at King’s College in London. Among numerous honours, George Benjamin has received the Rostrum of Composers of UNESCO, the Lili Boulanger Award, the Koussevitzky International Critics Award and the Schoenberg Prize of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.