Benjamin, George (William John)

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Benjamin, George (William John)

Benjamin, George (William John), English composer, teacher, conductor, and pianist; b. London, Jan. 31, 1960. He began piano studies at age seven and composition lessons at age nine. After training with Gellhorn in London (1974–76), he studied with Messi-aen (composition) and Loriod (piano) at the Paris Cons. (1976–78), and then with A. Goehr at King’s Coll., Cambridge (1978–82). He also had lessons with Robin Holloway. In 1979 he made his debut in London as a pianist. From 1984 to 1987 he pursued research in electronic music at IRCAM in Paris. In 1986 he became a prof. of composition at the Royal Coll. of Music in London, where from 1994 he was the Royal Consort prof. of Composition. He also was active as a performer and lecturer in Great Britain, Europe, the U.S., and the Far East. From 1993 to 1996 he was principal guest artist at the Hallé Orch. in Manchester. He was the featured composer at the Salzburg Festival in 1995 and at the Tanglewood Festival in 1999. In 2000 he became composer-in-residence of the Berlin Phil. In 1996 he was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. Benjamin has exploited the full range of compositional expression, from the traditional to a sophisticated use of electronics.


ORCH: Altitude for Brass Band (1977; York, May 12, 1979); Ringed by the Flat Horizon (1979-80; Cambridge, March 5, 1980); At First Light for Chamber Orch. (London, Nov. 23, 1982); Fanfare for Aquarius (London, Oct. 18, 1983); Jubilation (London, Sept. 16, 1985, composer conducting); Antara for Instrumental Ensemble and Electronics (1985-87; Paris, April 25, 1987, composer conducting); Sudden Time (1989-93; London, July 21, 1993, composer conducting); 3 Inventions for Chamber Orch. (1993-95; first complete perf., Salzburg, July 27, 1995, composer conducting); Palimpsest (1998-99; London, Feb. 2, 2000). CHAMBER: Violin Sonata (1976-77; London, May 27, 1977, composer pianist); Octet for Flute, Clarinet, Celesta, Percussion, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass (1978; London, Feb. 24, 1979); Flight for Flute (1978-79; Paris, March 21, 1980); Duo for Cello and Piano (N.Y., Nov. 5, 1980, composer pianist); Viola, Viola for 2 Violas (Tokyo, Sept. 16, 1997). Piano: Sonata (1977-78; Paris, May 18, 1978, composer pianist); Sortileges (1981; Cheltanham, July 15, 1982); 3 Studies (1982-84; first complete perf., London, Feb. 4, 1986, composer pianist). VOCAL: A Mind of Winter for Soprano and Orch., after Wallace Stevens (1980-81; Snape Maltings, June 26, 1981); Upon Silence for Mezzo-soprano and 5 Viols, after Yeats (London, Oct. 30, 1990; rev. for Mezzo-soprano and 7 Strings, 1991; Paris, March 21, 1992); Sometime Voices for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (Manchester, Sept. 11, 1996). tape:Panorama (1985). OTHER: Transcription of Purcell’s Fantasia VII for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Celesta (Aldeburgh Festival, June 16, 1995).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire