Menu Close

English composer George Benjamin wins the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Music and Opera category.

The BBVA Foundation’s Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Music and Opera category has gone to the English composer George Benjamin (London, 1960). The prize was awarded for “modernising the language of opera” and for his extraordinary contribution and impact “on contemporary creation in the fields of symphonic music, opera and chamber music”.

The jury, which was chaired by the Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz Torres, highlighted “his extraordinary contribution and impact on contemporary creation in the fields of symphonic music, opera and chamber music”, according to the minutes.

According to Victor García de Gomar, secretary of the jury and artistic director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, “we are probably talking about the most representative name in contemporary music and one who is still at an extremely important creative moment; every new title he presents in his catalogue is awaited by the world, especially in operas: every four or five years he is writing a new opera, and with this cadence and his enormous quality, he manages to generate this expectation”.

The jury in the Music and Opera category, in addition to Gabriela Ortiz Torres and Víctor García de Gomar, was made up of the Spanish composers Raquel García Tomás, the Italian composer Silvia Colasanti, the Spanish composer and conductor Pedro Halffter Caro, the artistic director of the Teatro Real Joan Matabosch and the artistic coordinator of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Italy, Mauro Bucarelli.

An outstanding pupil of Olivier Messiaen, who described him as “the most important musician since Mozart”, Benjamin was the youngest composer to premiere at the BBC Proms in London, but it is, according to the press release distributed by the BBVA Foundation, the operatic field in which he excels: his four operas, which have achieved worldwide success and all in collaboration with the playwright Martin Crimp, “propose new narrative structures and maintain a dramaturgy that connects and moves 21st century audiences”.

Sir George Benjamin also received the Ernst von Siemens International Music Prize last year, which declared him “one of the most important contemporary artists and has played a decisive role in shaping the New Music”.

Photography of George Benjamin © Rui Camilo, EvS Musikstiftung 2023.