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George Benjamin

Professor George Benjamin

GeorgeBenjaminHenry Purcell Professor of Composition

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1408
Address Music Department
King's College London
Strand Campus



George Benjamin succeeded Sir Harrison Birtwistle as Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King's College in January 2001 since when he has accepted post-graduate students from the UK, Japan, France, Spain, Italy, Jordan, USA, Israel, Portugal, Germany and Australia.

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 work with Olivier Messiaen (composition) and Yvonne Loriod (piano), after which he completed his studies at King's College Cambridge under Alexander Goehr.

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 retrospectives of his work in Tokyo, Berlin, Madrid, Paris and Lucerne.

Research Interests and PhD supervision
  • Composition
George would be interested in working with PhD students in the field of composition.
For more details, please see his full research profile.
Selected Publications


  • Written on Skin (2012) opera, text by Martin Crimp. Commissioned by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, De Nederlandse Opera (Amsterdam), Théâtre du Capitole (Toulouse), Royal Opera House Covent Garden London and the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
  • Duet (2008) for piano and orchestra, commissioned by Roche for the Lucerne Summer Festival; first performance: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano, with the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Franz Welser-Moest .
  • Into the Little Hill (2006), a lyric tale, text by Martin Crimp; first performance: Opera Bastille, Paris; Anu Komsi, Hilary Summers, Ensemble Modern conducted by Franck Ollu


  • CD of “Piano Figures” issued on Nimbus Records, 2010.
  • “Composing for the Piano in Black and White”, article for the Guardian, 2010.
  • ”A Tribute to Olivier Messiaen” – centenary CD, with George Benjamin conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, released 2009.
  • “Legato – World of the Piano”, DVD including “Shadowlines” performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, 2009.  

For a complete list of compositions and publications, please see George's full research profile.

Expertise and public engagement

George Benjamin's first operatic work, Into the Little Hill, a collaboration with playwright Martin Crimp, has toured widely on both sides of the Atlantic since its premiere in 2006, and in 2008 won Benjamin’s third Royal Philharmonic Society Award.
As a conductor he regularly appears with 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, was elected to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, and has been awarded honorary fellowships by the Guildhall School, the Royal Academy, and the Royal College of Music.

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