George Benjamin has been awarded the Grand Prix artistique 2022 de la Fondation Simone et Cino Del Duca by the Institut de France, in recognition of his extraordinary artistic and musical contribution. The prize is given in recognition of the entire career of an artist of international stature, alternately in the fields of painting, sculpture, and musical composition. The prize includes an endowment of €100 000.

On receiving the prize, Benjamin said: “My roots in France go back a long way – in fact I was 16 when I started my studies at the Paris Conservatoire with Olivier Messiaen. If you had told me then, a young Brit, that one day I would receive such an award under the dome of the Institut I would not have believed it.

Over the last decades I have had the privilege of knowing many of the illustrious personalities of modern music in France, amongst them some very dear friends. My own efforts have also been generously welcomed here, and I have enormous gratitude towards the institutions, festivals and musicians that have supported my work.”

Benjamin added that he is “deeply honoured” to accept the award, which will be formally presented to him at a ceremony in Paris on 1 June.

Benjamin’s music has been frequently performed and warmly received in France. Recent highlights include a 2020 performance of his opera Written on Skin from the Philharmonie de Paris, first premiered in 2012 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival; a retrospective of his music at the 2020 Festival Présences in Paris; and a December 2021 performance of Benjamin’s Concerto for Orchestra with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with the composer conducting. In 2021, France Musique declared Written on Skin the most significant work of the 21st century after surveying 155 composers.

Michaël Levinas, member of l’Académie des beaux-arts, said of Benjamin’s work: “The cultural and musical link of Georges Benjamin with France is important. Former student of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de musique of Paris, his creative language is very marked in its first foundations by French music of the 20th century and by Olivier Messiaen.”