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Benjamin, Arthur

Benjamin, Arthur

Benjamin, Arthur, admired Australian pianist, teacher, and composer; b. Sydney, Sept. 18, 1893; d. London, April 9, 1960. After studies in Brisbane, he completed his training at the Royal Coll. of Music in London with Frederick Cliffe (piano) and Stanford (composition). He taught at the Sydney Cons. (1919–21) and the Royal Coll. of Music(from 1926). After pursuing his career in Vancouver, British Columbia (1939–46), he returned to England. Benjamin was an adept composer who produced works in a readily accessible style.


DRAMATIC: Opera: The Devil Take Her (London, Dec. 1, 1931); Prima Donna (1933; London, Feb. 23, 1949); A Tale of 2 Cities (1949-50; BBC, London, April 17, 1953); Mañana, television opera (1956); Tartuffe (1960; completed by A. Boustead; London, Nov. 30, 1964). Ballet: Orlando’s Silver Wedding (London, May 1951). ORCH.: Piano Concertino (1927); Light Music, suite (1928–33); Violin Concerto (1932); Heritage, ceremonial march (1935); Romantic Fantasy for Violin, Viola, and Orch. (1937; London, March 24, 1938); Overture to an Italian Comedy (London, March 2, 1937); Cotillon, suite (1938); 2 Jamaican Pieces (1938; includes the highly popular Jamaican Rumba; also for 1 or 2 Pianos); Prelude to Holiday (1940; Indianapolis, Jan. 17, 1941); Sonatina for Chamber Orch. (1940); Concerto for Oboe and Strings (transcribed from Cimarosa, 1942); Sym. No. 1 (1944-45; Cheltenham, June 30, 1948); Suite for Flute and Strings (transcribed from Scarlatti, 1945); Elegy, Waltz and Toccata, viola concerto (1945; also for Viola and Piano); From San Domingo (1945); Caribbean Dance (1946); Ballade for Strings (1947); Concerto quasi una fantasia for Piano and Orch. (Sydney, Sept. 5, 1950); Harmonica Concerto (London, Aug. 15, 1953); North American Square Dances for 2 Pianos and Orch. (Pittsburgh, April 1, 1955). CHAMBER: 3 Pieces for Violin and Piano (1919); 2 string quartets {Pastorale Fantasia, 1924; 1959); Violin Sonatina (1924); Cello Sonatina (1938); Le Tombeau de Ravel: Valse Caprice for Clarinet or Viola and Piano (1949); Divertimento for Wind Quintet (1960). Piano: Suite (1927); 2 Jamaican Songs for 2 Pianos (1949). VOCAL: 3 Impressions for Voice and String Quartet (1920); choral music; songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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