Sir George BenjaminConductor, Composer
He was Olivier Messiaen’s favourite pupil: “George Benjamin has a great talent similar to that of the young Mozart.” Benjamin is not “only” a composer, but also a consummate pianist and conductor, and as a teacher he is one of the most influential personalities in international musical life. Sir George Benjamin made his debut in Philharmoniker concerts in May 2001 conducting the Scharoun Ensemble. In the 2018/19 season, he was Composer in Residence of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
George Benjamin studied composition and piano from the age of 14 under Peter Gellhorn, before continuing his training two years later under Yvonne Loriod and Olivier Messiaen. This was followed by studies at King’s College, Cambridge under Alexander Goehr. In 1980, he became the youngest composer ever to have his music premiered at the BBC Proms with [Ringed by the Flat Horizon]. Two years later, the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, gave the world premiere of [At First Light]. In 2002, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered [Palimpsests] under the baton of Pierre Boulez, opening a portrait series dedicated to him at the Barbican Centre. Benjamin’s opera [Written on Skin] was premiered at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in July 2012. It has been included in the repertoire of over 20 international opera houses and has won numerous international prizes. As a conductor, George Benjamin regularly works with world-leading orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and the Ensemble Modern. His repertoire ranges from Mozart to Hans Abrahamsen, and he has premiered works by Wolfgang Rihm, Unsuk Chin, Gérard Grisey and György Ligeti, among others. Since 2001, Sir George Benjamin has been professor of composition at King’s College, London, which has appointed him a Fellow. In 2015, he was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and was knighted in 2017.