Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Bennett showed early promise as an exceptional musical talent and was encouraged by his mother, a student of Holst and a skilled pianist and composer. At the age of 16 he was writing 12-tone compositions, even though this technique was barely recognized in the British musical community. He accepted a scholarship at the RAM, where he studied with Berkeley and Ferguson. During this time several of his works were performed in London, including the cantata A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy's Day and two string quartets. These works displayed a fine feeling for line and texture, characteristics that remained present in his later work. Bennett won a scholarship to study with Boulez in Paris in 1957. Although he described this period as one of "violent stylistic change," the association with Boulez caused him to return to his serialist roots. In the 1960s he began composing in a jazz style, creating sophisticated works such as Jazz Calender and Jazz Pastoral, as well as allowing jazz elements to creep into his classical works. He held several academic positions, including posts at the RCM and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Richard Rodney Bennett died in New York City on December 24, 2012 at the age of 76.