Born in 1960, George Benjamin began composing at the age of seven. In 1976 he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study with Messiaen, after which he worked with Alexander Goehr at King's College Cambridge.
Ringed by the Flat Horizon was played at the BBC Proms by the BBCSO under Mark Elder when he was just 20. The London Sinfonietta, under Simon Rattle, premiered At First Light two years later. Antara was commissioned for the 10th anniversary of the Pompidou centre in 1987 and Three Inventions was written for the 75th Salzburg Festival in 1995. The LSO under Boulez premiered Palimpsests in 2002 to mark the opening of ‘By George’, a season-long portrait at the Barbican. The last decade has seen further multi-concert retrospectives of his work in Paris, Lucerne, London, San Francisco, Frankfurt, Aix, Turin, Milan, Aldeburgh, Toronto and New York.
His first operatic work Into the Little Hill, written with playwright Martin Crimp, was commissioned by the 2006 Festival d'Automne in Paris. Their second collaboration, Written on Skin, premiered at the Aix-en-Provence festival in July 2012 and has been scheduled by almost twenty international opera houses since then and has won as many international awards. He conducted the UK premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in March 2013; the production was filmed and broadcast by BBC television.
As a conductor he regularly appears with some of the world's leading orchestras, amongst them the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia; he has a particularly close relationship with the Royal Concertgebouw, who gave the world première of his latest score, “Dream of the Song” in Amsterdam this September.
George Benjamin has conducted numerous world premieres, including important works by Rihm, Chin, Grisey and Ligeti, and his repertoire stretches from Schumann and Wagner to Abrahamsen, Knussen, and Murail. He has frequently performed and taught at the Tanglewood festival in the USA since his first appearance in 1999, and returns there regularly.
In 2012 the Southbank Centre presented a retrospective of his work as part of the UK’s Cultural Olympiad. An honorary fellow of King’s College Cambridge, the Guildhall, the Royal College and the Royal Academy of Music, he was awarded a C.B.E. in 2010 and was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2011. This autumn he was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ambassador to London, and “Written on Skin” was awarded the triennial Composition Prize from the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco.
Since 2001 he has been the Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King‘s College, London. His works are published by Faber Music and are recorded on Nimbus Records.