Q and A with George Benjamin

Ahead of his birthday concert on 7 February 2010 George Benjamin gives us an insight into his life through a quick fire Q and A. For more information on the concert please visit the event page.


What – or where – is perfection?

Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera)?

Lok, the endearing, though deeply tragic, central character in William Golding’s The Inheritors

What’s your favourite ritual?

A concert

Which living person do you most admire?

Dr. Nazeer, my parents’ incomparable NHS GP

Which mobile number do you call the most?

I prefer texting

What do you fear the most?

Things too obvious to state

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?

To play the viola

Tell us about a special memory you have of Southbank Centre (Royal Festival Hall/Queen Elizabeth Hall/Purcell Room/Hayward Gallery)?

The Festival Hall concert Pierre Boulez conducted with the BBC SO in 1987, which included the world premiere of his revised Le Visage Nuptial, Schoenberg’s orchestral variations, Messiaen’s Chronochromie (with the composer present) and my own Ringed by the Flat Horizon

What’s your favourite website?

Ultra slow-motion videos of lightning on ztresearch .com

If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?

Living: my great friends pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and composer/conductor Oliver Knussen. Dead: to see Mahler conduct Beethoven

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

To try to listen

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?

In recent weeks the cd of the very strange and striking Schnee, a 55 minute ensemble work written by the contemporary Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen

George Benjamin

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