George Benjamin succeeded Sir Harrison Birtwistle as Henry Purcell Professor on Composition at King's College in January 2001.
He gives a series of lectures each year, open to all music students, which cover a wide variety of subjects. These range from abstract topics ("thematicism", "symmetry in music", "the bass in modern music") to more specific areas of musical thought, including the analysis of individual works by composers ranging from Mozart to Boulez and beyond.
He gives individual lessons to post-graduate composers; over the past six years he has accepted students from the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Jordan, USA, Israel, Japan and Australia. While he occasionally supervises PhDs in composition, he has a strong preference for the year-long MMus course.
Born in 1960, George Benjamin started to play the piano at the age of seven, and began composing almost immediately. In 1976 he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study with Olivier Messiaen (composition) and Yvonne Loriod (piano), after which he studied under Alexander Goehr at King's College Cambridge.
Since his first orchestral piece, "Ringed by the Flat Horizon", was performed at the BBC Proms in 1980 his works have continued to be performed across the world. In recent years there have been major retrospectives of his work in Tanglewood, London, Brussels, Tokyo, Berlin, Strasbourg, Madrid and Paris.
As a conductor he regularly appears with some of the world's leading ensembles and orchestras, amongst them the the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, the Cleveland and Concertgebouw orchestras and the Berlin Philharmonic. He has conducted numerous world premieres, including important works by Rihm, Chin, Grisey and Ligeti.
He was made a Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et Lettres
in 1996 and was elected to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, only the fourth time such an honour has been bestowed on a British composer. In 2001 he was awarded the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester's first ever Schoenberg Prize for composition.
His works are recorded on Nimbus Records www.wyastone.co.uk
, and are published by Faber Music in London www.fabermusic.co.uk