Sir George Benjamin awardedwith Ernst von Siemens Music Prize
By awarding the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize to George Benjamin, the EvS Music Foundation honours one of the most important and influential contemporary artists of recent decades who has shaped New Music both as a composer and conductor. The Board of Trustees thereby honours a composer who has always remained true to himself without bending to fashions and trends. Benjamin has almost uniquely succeeded in renewing music with traditional means, and his works bring contemporary music closer to a broad audience, thus making him a central figure in current musical life.
George Benjamin's talent became evident at an early age: born in 1960, even as a child he had an enthusiasm for classical music and as early as seven began composing. At sixteen, he attended the Paris Conservatoire and became Olivier Messiaen's youngest student. Benjamin's first orchestral work, ›Ringed by the Flat Horizon‹, written at the age of twenty, was performed to great acclaim at the 1980 BBC Proms. Benjamin’s music theatre compositions have become milestones in his catalogue of works since 2006. All of his operas to date have been collaborations with playwright Martin Crimp: ›Into the Little Hill‹ (2006), ›Written on Skin‹ (2012), and L›essons in Love and Violence‹ (2018). The purity of Benjamin's musical language stands in contrast to the cruelty reflected in the literary material of the works. A special fascination of the music theater pieces emanates from this dialectic. His thus-far most successful opera, ›Written on Skin‹, has been performed over 100 times worldwide and has won numerous awards including the International Opera Award.
But it isn’t only as a composer that George Benjamin has influenced New Music and been one of its most successful ambassadors. As a conductor, Benjamin likewise has a broad repertoire. He has conducted numerous world premieres, including works by György Ligeti, Gérard Grisey, Wolfgang Rihm and Unsuk Chin. He regularly collaborates with some of the world's leading orchestras, and over the years has maintained especially close relationships with a number of international ensembles including the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Modern.
The award ceremony will take place on 26 May 2023 in the Hercules Hall of the Munich Residence. Ensemble Modern will perform Sir George’s work ›At First Light‹ as well as the chamber opera ›Into the Little Hill‹ under the baton of the composer.