Arthur Benjamin

Arthur Benjamin. Pianist, composer, teacher, b Sydney 18 Nov 1893, d London 10 Apr 1960. Having established an international reputation as a pianist and composer in his native Australia and then in England (where he lived after 1921), Benjamin first visited Canada in the 1930s as an adjudicator.

Benjamin, Arthur

Arthur Benjamin. Pianist, composer, teacher, b Sydney 18 Nov 1893, d London 10 Apr 1960. Having established an international reputation as a pianist and composer in his native Australia and then in England (where he lived after 1921), Benjamin first visited Canada in the 1930s as an adjudicator. In 1939 (the year after he wrote his famous Jamaican Rhumba) he settled in Vancouver following his adjudication of the 17th Kiwanis Music Festival. Remaining there throughout World War II, he gave recitals and conducted the Vancouver Sun's Promenade Symphony Concerts 1941-2, the CBR Symphony Orchestra (radio 1941-6), and, as a guest, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He performed with William Primrose for the Ladies' Morning Musical Club in 1942 and also played that year with the McGill String Quartet. Among the compositions he completed during his Vancouver years were the rondo for orchestra Prelude to Holiday (chosen for performance at the 1942 ISCM festival in San Francisco), the Oboe Concerto after Cimarosa (premiered in Vancouver at a 1941 promenade concert), Sonata, 'Elegy, Waltz and Toccata' (premiered by the composer and the violist William Primrose in Vancouver, 14 Oct 1942), and Symphony No. 1. An accomplished pianist, Benjamin was also an outstanding teacher. His Canadian pupils included Robert Barclay, Jean Coulthard, Robert Fleming, Hugh McLean, Gregory Millar, Phyllis Schuldt, and Ira Swartz. Benjamin returned to England in 1946.


Further Reading

  • The New Grove Dictionary