The life of composer George Benjamin

A brief guide to the career of George Benjamin

Published: November 8, 2019 at 9:00 am



Born in London, Benjamin goes to Westminster School.

Benjamin goes to study in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod, before returning to study at King’s College, Cambridge with Alexander Goehr.

His orchestral piece Ringed by the Flat Horizon, written for the Cambridge University Musical Society, is performed at the BBC Proms, conducted by Mark Elder.

After working with Pierre Boulez at IRCAM in Paris, Benjamin writes Antara for chamber orchestra and electronics, but composes little else until 1992. His conducting career begins to blossom.

He becomes professor of composition at King’s College, University of London, taking over from Harrison Birtwistle.

His chamber opera Into the Little Hill, with a libretto by Martin Crimp, is premiered in Paris. At the UK premiere three years later, a power cut in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio leads to the piece being staged in the theatre bar.

Written on Skin, his second large-scale opera, is staged in Aix-en-Provence. It has since been given nearly 100 performances.

Awarded a CBE in 2010, seven years later George Benjamin is given a knighthood.

Lessons in Love and Violence premieres at Covent Garden, with a cast including singers Barbara Hannigan and Stéphan Degout.


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