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George Benjamin

Composer

Biography

English composer and conductor George Benjamin made his Royal Opera debut in 2013 conducting his opera Written on Skin (text by Martin Crimp), which he returned to conduct in 2017. He returns in the 2017/18 Season with Lessons in Love and Violence, a new work co-commissioned by The Royal Opera, with which he conducts the premiere.

Benjamin was born in London. He started composing at the age of seven and studied with Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire and with Goehr at King’s College, Cambridge. He made his BBC Proms debut aged 20 with Ringed by the Flat Horizon (BBC Symphony Orchestra and Mark Elder). Further compositions include At First Light (London Sinfonietta and Simon Rattle), Palimpsests (London Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Boulez) and the chamber opera Into the Little Hill, which marked the start of his collaboration with Crimp. His compositions have been celebrated through retrospectives at the Barbican, the Southbank Centre and in Paris, San Francisco, Frankfurt, Lucerne, Aix-en-Provence, Aldeburgh and New York, among others. He is an honorary fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, and an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society. He was appointed a CBE in 2010 and a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2015.

Benjamin regularly conducts such leading orchestras as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Modern. He has conducted world premieres by composers including Chin, Grisey, Ligeti and Rihm. He regularly teaches at the Tanglewood Festival and is Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King’s College London.

Videos

News and features

How The Royal Opera has kept opera looking forward for more than three hundred years

How The Royal Opera has kept opera looking forward for more than three hundred years

25 May 2017

The ROH has been home to major opera premieres dating all the way back to our first resident composer Handel – as material from ROH Collections shows.

10 of opera's greatest bass-baritone roles

10 of opera's greatest bass-baritone roles

30 January 2017

From devils and rogues, to lovers and rulers – who says tenors have to have all the fun?

Angels, devils, fools and women: exploring the role of the countertenor

Angels, devils, fools and women: exploring the role of the countertenor

24 January 2017

Under-appreciated for centuries, the countertenor now storms the operatic stage.

Photos

Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Production Photo of Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin

Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Written on Skin audience members Justyna and Emmet

Production Photo of Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin

Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Composer George Benjamin with the score for his opera Written on Skin

Written on Skin audience member Rhiannon

Barbara Hannigan as Agnès in Written on Skin

Barbara Hannigan as Agnès and Bejun Mehta as Boy in Written on Skin

Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Production Photo of Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin

Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

George Benjamin. Photograph by Matthew Lloyd

Written on Skin audience member Andrew

Christopher Purves as Protector, Bejun Mehta as Boy and Barbara Hannigan as Agnès in Written on Skin

Written on Skin

Barbara Hannigan as Agnès and Christopher Purves as the Protector in Written on Skin

Allan Clayton as John, Rebecca Jo Loeb as Marie and Bejun Mehta as Boy in Written on Skin

Christopher Purves as Protector in Written on Skin

Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Production Photo of Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin

Production Photo of Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin

Production Photo of Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin

Iestyn Davies and Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Victoria Simmonds, Christopher Purves, Mark Padmore in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Mark Padmore in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Iestyn Davies in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Iestyn Davies in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera

Written on Skin audience member Tony

George Benjamin in rehearsals