Benjamin, William E(mmanuel)

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Benjamin, William E(mmanuel)

Benjamin, William E(mmanuel), Canadian music theorist, musicologist, and composer; b. Montreal, Dec. 7, 1944. He studied composition with Anhalt at McGill Univ. in Montreal (Mus.B., 1965) and with Babbitt, Cone, Westergaard, and Randall at Princeton Univ. (M.F.A., 1968; Ph.D., 1976, with the diss. On Modular Equivalence as a Musical Concept). After teaching at Wellesley Coll. (1970–72) and the Univ. of Mich. (1972–78), he was assoc. (1978–83) and then full (from 1983) prof. at the Univ. of British Columbia, where he was head of the music school (1984–91). His writings on theory and analysis have been publ. in various journals. In his music, he strives to fashion a rational multidimensional musical space, in which dynamics, rhythm, and tonality are functional components in free serial arrangements.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream, incidental music to Shakespeare’s play (1964); The King of Siam, incidental music to L. Angel’s play (1965); Mah Tovu, hymn for Chorus (1965); Variations for 4 Players (1967); At Sixes and Sevens, sextet for Strings and Clarinets (1968); 2 Movements for String Trio (1972); Piano Concerto (1970–75); Square Waves for Concert Band (1976–77); 2 Poems for Contralto and Chamber Ensemble (1981); The Unveiling, incidental music to L. Angel’s play (1982); Sequences for Guitar (1982).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire