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Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

born: 29 March 1936
died: 24 December 2012
country: United Kingdom

Richard Rodney Bennett was a versatile British composer and pianist. He studied in the Royal Academy of Music, under among others Lennox Berkeley. Lauded as the new Benjamin Britten, Bennett had his first work published while still a student. In 1955 while studying in Paris with Pierre Boulez, Bennett discovered and explored serialism. This training and modernist approach set the course of his future compositions.

He later taught at the RAM, and composed works for the concert hall, opera, film and television, as well as writing and performing jazz.

Peter Pears first encountered Bennett at Morley College in 1955 when the tenor adjudicated a song competition. Pears immediately admired the young composer’s music and awarded him first prize.

In 1958 Bennett composed a short Lament for tenor and guitar which Pears performed in Aldeburgh alongside Julian Bream. Bennett said of Pears ‘there are some performers … who have a remarkable instinct for performing the music exactly as one wants it.’ Pears was equally keen, writing ‘If ever you want me to sing anything you may write, I will always be happy to do so—provided I can!’

from notes by Robin Tritschler © 2024


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