Music Prize 2023 awarded to Sir George Benjamin
The 2023 international Ernst von Siemens Music Prize is to be awarded to the British
composer and conductor Sir George Benjamin. The award for a lifetime of service to music
comes with €250,000 prize money. The award ceremony will take place on Friday 26th May
2023 in the Hercules Hall of the Munich Residence.
Composer Prize to Alex Paxton
The Composer Prizes, each with €35,000 prize money, will go to Alex Paxton from the United
Kingdom, Sara Glojnarić from Croatia, and Eric Wubbels from the USA.
The 2023 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize is awarded
to Sir George Benjamin
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 bring
contemporary music closer to a broad audience, thus making him a central figure in current musical
life. The sixty-three-year-old has devoted himself to almost all genres through his career and he
remains at the peak of his creative powers.
“Benjamin’s music, an oasis of beauty and truth, functions as a beacon in the night and gives reason
for hope.” Philippe Albèra
George Benjamin’s talent became evident at an early age: born in 1960, even as a child he had an
enthusiasm for classical music and as early as seven began composing. At sixteen, he attended the
Paris Conservatoire and became Olivier Messiaen’s youngest student. Benjamin’s first orchestral work,
Ringed by the Flat Horizon, written at the age of twenty, was performed to great acclaim at the 1980
BBC Proms. Over the course of his career, he has found supporters in the form of artists such as Pierre
Boulez, Kent Nagano, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Barbara Hannigan amongst many others who have
performed his works on numerous occasions.
Benjamin’s music theatre compositions have become milestones in his catalogue of works since 2006.
All of his operas to date have been collaborations with playwright Martin Crimp: Into the Little Hill
(2006), Written on Skin (2012), and Lessons in Love and Violence (2018). The purity of Benjamin’s
musical language stands in contrast to the cruelty reflected in the literary material of the works. A
special fascination of the music theater pieces emanates from this dialectic. His thus-far most
successful opera, Written on Skin, has been performed over 100 times worldwide and has won numerous awards including the International Opera Award. His fourth opera, Picture a day like this,
likewise in collaboration with Crimp will premiere in July 2023 at the Festival d‘Aix-en-Provence.
But it isn’t only as a composer that George Benjamin has influenced New Music and been one of its
most successful ambassadors. As a conductor, Benjamin likewise has a broad repertoire. He has
conducted numerous world premieres, including works by György Ligeti, Gérard Grisey, Wolfgang
Rihm and Unsuk Chin. He regularly collaborates with some of the world’s leading orchestras, and over
the years has maintained especially close relationships with a number of international ensembles
including the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and
Ensemble Modern. Benjamin was Artist in Residence with the Berlin Philharmonic and the
Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg during the 2018/19 season, and he has been Henry Purcell Professor of
Composition at King’s College, London since 2001.
Composer Prizes 2023 awarded to Alex Paxton
The three Composer Prizes 2023, which each come with €35,000, go to Sara Glojnarić from Croatia,
Alex Paxton from the United Kingdom, and Eric Wubbels from the USA.
Born in 1990, Alex Paxton studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in
London. The composer and trombonist crosses happily from the worlds of classical music to jazz and
pop. He incorporates his improvisational playfulness into his compositions and writes refined,
passionate music full of pulsating energy, coupled with a diversity of style. Paxton’s works have been
performed by renowned ensembles, including the Ensemble Modern, the London Sinfonietta and the
London Symphony Orchestra. Alex Paxton’s works have been published by Ricordi Berlin since 2022 as
part of the program ricordilab.
Sara Glojnarić was born in Zagreb in 1991. There, she studied composition under Davorin Kempf and
later in Stuttgart under Martin Schüttler. Nowadays, she lives in Stuttgart and Leipzig. Her works focus
on the role models and aesthetics of pop culture and reflect on their socio-political effects. She often
works with the experimental, within differing presentational formats, including opera, orchestral and
chamber music pieces as well as video works, multimedia and multi-sensory installations. Her works
have been performed at Wien Modern and the Wittener Tage for New Chamber Music, among
Composer and pianist Eric Wubbels was born in 1980 and studied at Columbia University and
Amherst College in the United States, where he studied under Lewis Spratlan, Tristan Murail and Fred
Lerdahl, among others. His scores have a great sense of authority, distinguished by craftsmanship and
a free will of expression, blending sounds into complex structures. His work has been performed in
Europe, Asia and the USA, including at the Huddersfield Festival, the MATA Festival, and the Tage für
Neue Musik in Zurich. He is likewise co-director of the Wet Ink Ensemble in New York.
Award Ceremony on 26th May 2023 in the Hercules Hall of the Munich
The 2023 award ceremony will take place on 26th May in the Hercules Hall of the Munich Residence.
As a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, the composer, conductor and music manager
Peter Ruzicka will present the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize to Sir George Benjamin. The laudatory
speech will be given by the British philosopher John Hyman. Ensemble Modern will perform
Benjamin’s work At First Light (1982) for small orchestra as well as the chamber opera Into the little
Hill (2006) under the direction of the prizewinner. The winners of the Composer Prizes Sara Glojnarić,
Alex Paxton and Eric Wubbels as well as the winners of the two Ensemble Prizes Ekmeles and NAMES
will be presented in short film portraits by Johannes List and will receive their prizes from the chairman
of the foundation’s Board of Trustees and former artistic director of the Vienna Musikverein, Thomas
The EvS Music Foundation Ensemble Prize was established in 2020 to support individual ensembles in
their artistic and structural development in a sustainable way. Two ensembles each year are awarded
up to €75,000. For the Ensemble Prize 2023, the Board of Trustees chose the vocal ensemble Ekmeles
from New York and NAMES – New Art and Music Ensemble Salzburg.
The application deadline for the Ensemble Prize 2024 is 15th March 2023:
Young, professional ensembles wishing to apply should be in the consolidation phase of their
development. The ensemble should be focussed entirely on contemporary repertoire and more than
two thirds of its members should be younger than 35.
The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation is providing over €3.7 million in
prizes and subsidies in 2023
The largest share of the annual funding, €3 million, is being provided to approximately 120
contemporary music projects worldwide. The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation supports concert
series and festivals in numerous cities including Cologne, London, Prague, Tallinn, Zagreb and Tel Aviv.
Likewise, funding is provided for the commissioning of new works – both for smaller ensembles as
well as orchestral and music theatre pieces from Spain and France to Chile and the USA. In addition to
the various symposiums and musicology publications planned, projects are to be funded in 2023 to
mark the 100th anniversary of György Ligeti’s birth. Likewise, support is provided to numerous
academies for young composers and performers, and the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation will
continue its räsonanz concert series in cooperation with Lucerne Festival and musica viva of
The Ernst von Siemens Music Prize (EvS Music Prize) has been awarded every year since 1973 by the
privately-run Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation (EvS Music Foundation), which is based in
Switzerland. Please note that it is not associated with Siemens AG or their own foundation, the