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King’s alumnus George Benjamin wins Ernst von Siemens Music Prize

Composer George Benjamin (KC 1978) has been awarded the 2023 EvS Music Prize, previously won by his mentor Olivier Messiaen.
George Benjamin by Rui Camilo

Alumnus and Honorary Fellow George Benjamin (KC 1978), who has been awarded the 2023 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. This year’s prize, worth €250,000 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, based in Switzerland. With Benjamin Britten as the inaugural winner, the Prize is awarded every year to a composer or performer for in recognition of their contribution to the world of contemporary music. Pierre Boulez, Herbert von Karajan, Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, Mariss Jansons, Tabea Zimmermann and Sir George's mentor Olivier Messiaen are some of the artists awarded since 1973. The awards ceremony will take place on 26 May 2023, in Munich.

George Benjamin began composing at the age of seven, and at sixteen he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study with Messiaen, after which he worked with Alexander Goehr in London. At the age of only 20, his first orchestral work - Ringed by the Flat Horizon - was performed at the BBC Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Mark Elder.

On bestowing the award, the Foundation commented:

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 bringing contemporary music closer to a broad audience, thus making him a central figure in current musical life.

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