Benjamin Staern (photo: Mats Bäcker)
Benjamin Staern (photo: Mats Bäcker)

Benjamin Staern

Benjamin Staern belongs to the leading Scandinavian composers of his generation. He made an early breakthrough with the symphonic work "The Threat of War". From this point on, Staern has developed a deeply personal style, where his ability to associate tones and timbres with different colours and tints is fundamental in his perception and the creation of his music.

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Benjamin Staern (b. 1978) studied composition at the Malmö Academy of Music during 1998-2005 with Rolf Martinsson, Hans Gefors and Luca Francesconi, and made an early breakthrough, while still a student at the Malmö Academy of Music, with the symphonic work The Threat of War (1999).

From this point on, Staern has developed a deeply personal style with an output including orchestral and chamber works, operas, solo pieces and electroacoustic music. An interesting aspect of his work as a composer is his unusual ability to associate tones and timbres with different colours and tints. This is a variant of a phenomenon called synaesthesia which is fundamental in his perception and the creation of his music, and which is reflected in his sound world as well as in many of his work titles (Yellow Skies, Colour Wandering etc.)

Today Staern has established himself as one of the leading  Scandinavian composers of his generation.
Orchestral works that have attracted great attention include the concert opening piece Jubilate (2009) commissioned by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  GodaiConcerto for Orchestra (2013) composed for the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, and his first symphony Polar Vortex (2014), jointly commissioned by the Gävle, Helsingborg and Norrköpings Symphony Orchestras.
The clarinet concerto Worried Souls (2011) composed for soloist Karin Dornbusch and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra was awarded Sweden’s foremost composition prize, The major Christ Johnson Prize 2012.

Benjamin Staern was composer-in-residence with New European Ensemble 2010-14, and composed works such as Tranströmersånger and Bells and Waves (Chamber Symphony), winner of the Swedish MPA Award 2011, and the multimedia work SAIYAH for large ensemble, electronics and scenografic light sculpture. 

In the summer of 2016 Benjamin Staern was  composer in focus at the Båstad Chamber Music Festival, which included the world premiere of  Air-Spiral-Light for guitar and chamber ensemble with Jacob Kellermann as soloist. Also this work received the Swedish MPA Award.

Benjamin Staern’s very first opera The Snow Queen, to a libretto by Anelia Kadieva Jonsson based on H.C Andersen's fairytale, was staged at the Malmö Opera in December 2016.  It was a huge success, with sold-out performances, and rave reviews. In 2019 the opera received its German premiere at Theater Vorpommern in Stralsund and in 2021-22 it was staged at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. 

The Snow Queen was followed by The Princess' Tale,  a companion piece to Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale to a text by Mi Tyler in 2017 and the chamber opera Hilma, about the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, that was premiered at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2019. It was later that same year staged at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In April 2022  Benjamin Staern was festival composer at the Stockholm Concert Hall Composer Weekend, where his Second Symphony, Through Purgatory to Paradise, was premiered by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under Cathrine Winnes.


Orchestral collaborations:
MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Bamberger Symphoniker, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie, Duisburger Philharmoniker, Tokyo SO, Iceland SO, Helsinki Philharmonic,,BBC Scottish SO, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Radio SO, Gothenburg SO, Malmö SO, Norrköping SO etc.

Chamber Ensembles:
New European Ensemble, Norrbotten NEO, Gageego, Sonanza Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Aspekte and Stockholm Chamber Brass.

Håkan Hardenberger, Anna Larsson, Camilla Hoitenga, Johannes Möller, Karin Dornbusch, Carina Vinke, Filip Draglund, Jacob Kellermann, Daniel Migdal, Magnus Holmander, Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, Philippe Cassard.

Sakari Oramo, Leif Segerstam, Michael Christie, Michael Francis, Marc Soustrot, Stefan Solyom, Christian Karlsen, Tobias Ringborg, Christian Karlsen, Nazanin Aghakhani, Mats Rondin, Mika Eichenholz, Cathrine Winnes, Emil Eliasson.

For more information: 

Selected works:

  • Air – Spiral – Light

  • The Threat of War

  • Godai - The Five Elements - Concerto for Orchestra

  • Jubilate

  • Polar Vortex – Symphony No. 1

  • Through Purgatory to Paradise – Symphony No. 2

  • Worried Souls - Concerto for Clarinet

  • The Snow Queen - opera