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03 February 2023

Professor Sir George Benjamin awarded Ernst von Siemens Music Prize

The 2023 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize has been awarded to Professor Sir George Benjamin for his lifetime of service to music.

Image Credit: Professor Sir George Benjamin by Rui Camilo of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation
Image Credit: Professor Sir George Benjamin by Rui Camilo of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation

King’s Music Professor Sir George Benjamin has been awarded the 2023 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. The Henry Purcell Professor of Composition based in King’s Department of Music has been awarded the prize for being, what the Board of Trustees describe as, “…one of the most important and influential contemporary artists of recent decades who has shaped New Music both as a composer and conductor.”

It is a great honour to be given this prize, particularly as it comes from Germany where classical music has an absolutely central role in culture. I’m all the more touched because my predecessor at King’s – Sir Harrison Birtwistle – received the same award in 1995

Professor Sir George Benjamin

Since 1973, the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize has been awarded annually by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, based in Switzerland. The first-ever recipient was Benjamin Britten and honourees have included Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Mauricio Kagel, Elliot Carter, Olga Neuwirth and - former King’s Henry Purcell Professor - Sir Harrison Birtwistle.

George Benjamin is certainly one of the most eminent composers of our time. For the best part of half a century he has been producing music of outstanding quality and individuality. His music combines precision and delicacy with a sometimes overwhelming emotional power - most famously in his opera Written on Skin. It is a great pleasure to work with George at King's College London and to see his achievements rightly recognised.

Dr Edward Nesbit, Lecturer in Composition

Professor Sir George Benjamin continues to produce music, including his most recent work, the opera Picture a day like this, which will be premiered under the composer's own baton in Aix-en-Provence in July.

It is thrilling to see George Benjamin awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. There is another important thread running through George’s life – that of a dedicated and inspiring teacher and mentor to new generations of composers, many of whom have worked with him here at King’s. We count ourselves very lucky to have George as our colleague in Music and wish him many congratulations on this stunning achievement.

Professor Emma Dillon, Professor of Music

Professor Sir George Benjamin started his career at age of seven and has gone on to compose several notable works including the well-known orchestral piece Ringed by the Flat Horizon, and operas Into the Little Hill (2006) Written on Skin (2012) and Lessons in Love and Violence (2018). In 2001, he joined King’ College London as Professor of Composition, succeeding Professor Sir Harrison Birtwistle.

The award for a lifetime of service to music comes with €250,000 prize money. The awards ceremony will take place on Friday 26 May 2023 at the Herkulessaal der Münchner Residenz (Hercules Hall) in Germany, where Sir George Benjamin will conduct longstanding collaborators Ensemble Modern in At First Light (1982) and Into the Little Hill (2006).

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Professor Emma Dillon

Professor of Music

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Senior Lecturer in Composition