Benjamin Staern (1978-)


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Benjamin John Gunnar Staern

Born 6 December 1978 in Gothenburg.
Lives in Malmö since 1979.


Lunds university
Musicology 40p (1997-98)

The Academy of Music in Malmö
Basic education in Composition/arrangement (1998-2001) for prof. Hans Gefors, Rolf Martinsson (composition) and Kent Olofsson (electroacoustic music)

Extension training in Composition (2001-05) for prof. Luca Francesconi, Rolf Martinsson,
Kent Olofsson (composition and electroacoustic music)
Guest teachers: Per Mårtensson, James Clarke, Bent Sørensen, Rolf Riehm etc.

Gotland Music Academy at the University of Gotland - Academy for chamber musicians and composers, (2002).
Teachers: Per Mårtensson and Henrik Strindberg.


Asst. music librarian and composer at Malmö Opera, part-time 2006-

Composer-in-residence for the New European Ensemble in the Netherlands
Three commissioned works for chamber ensemble (2010-14):
Tranströmer Settings, Bells and Waves and Saiyah.


Private teaching in composition and lectured on the same subject for students at Falun Music Conservatory, De Geer Gymnasiet in Norrköping, Båstad Chamber Music Festival,
Gotland School of Composers 2016 -


The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Stockholm
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Malmö Symphony Orchestra
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Gävle Symphony Orchestra
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
MDR Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Musica Vitae
Jönköping Sinfonietta
Östgöta music
Nordic Youth Orchestra, Lund
Uppsala Chamber Orchestra
Malmö Opera Orchestra
Norrlandsoperan's symphony orchestra
Sweden's Radio Symphony Orchestra
Pori Sinfonietta, Finland
Jyväskylä Sinfonia, Finland
Orchester des Theater Vorpommern, Stralsund
Duisburg Philharmonic, Duisburg
Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Örebro
Stockholm County Wind Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm

Duo KeMi
New European Ensemble
Stockholm Chamber Brass
Norrbotten Neo

UNM, 2002, 2004
Stockholm New Music 2003, 2005
Båstad's Chamber Music Festival 2007, 2010
White Crow Music Festival, Leiden, Netherlands 2010 (Composer-in-residence)
MADE festival, Umeå 2014
Connect Festival, Malmö 2010, 2011
Båstad chamber music festival, composer profile 2016
Malmö Chamber Music Festival 2017


Grammy for the year's best classical album "Sonanza – Unheard of Again" Phono Suecia PSCD 180 which included Night Deep Violoncello for alto and chamber ensemble. (Anna Larsson, Sonanza with Jan Risberg). 2010

Bells and Waves – Music publishers' award for the year's best art piece in the chamber music/small ensemble category, 2011.

Air – Spiral – Light – Music publishers' award for the year's best art piece in the chamber music/small ensemble category, 2017.

Worried Souls – Great Christ Johnson Award from the Royal Academy of Music, 2012

Carin Malmlöf-Forsling prize from the Royal Academy of Music, 2022.


Annika & Lars Leander's foundation scholarship, Lund 2000.
Kjell-Åke Bjärming Foundation Scholarship, Lund 2001.
Inge and Einar Rosenborg Foundation for Swedish Music, Stockholm 2003.
Royal Academy of Music scholarships, Stockholm 2004, 2005.
Helge Ax:son Johnson's foundation, Stockholm 2004, 2005.
STIM scholarship, Stockholm 2005, 2012. 2021
Sparbanksstiftelsen Skåne cultural scholarship in music, Malmö 2007
FST composer scholarship, Stockholm 2007
The Arts Council's one-year scholarship, 2014, 2022
The Arts Council's five-year work grant, 2016-2021


The Swedish section of ISCM, 2006-

Benjamin Staern (b. 1978) has established himself as one of the leading Scandinavian composers of the younger generation and the music is performed in Scandinavia, Europe, USA, Canada, Russia and Japan. Early musical experiences with studies in cello, piano and percussion in his youth. Studied musicology at Lund University and subsequently composition at the Malmö Academy of Music during 1998-2005 with professors Rolf Martinsson, Hans Gefors, Per Mårtensson Kent Olofsson and Luca Francesconi. Staern has a deeply personal style with an output including orchestral, chamber works, solo pieces, electroacoustic music and opera stages. 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 that reflects his sound world as well as in many of his work titles (Yellow Skies, Colour Wandering etc.)

He was composer-in-residence with New European Ensemble 2010-14 on invitation from artistic leader and conductor Christian Karlsen that resulted into works like Tranströmersånger (selected poems from the Sad Gondola – collection by Nobel-prize author and poet Tomas Tranströmer), Bells and Waves (Chamber Symphony) winner of the SMFF Award 2011 in the category "most important work in chamber music/smaller ensemble" and a multimedia work SAIYAH in collaboration with Yoko Seyama for large ensemble, electronics and scenografic light sculpture at Norrlandsoperan for the MADE-festival in Umeå during Cultural Capital of the Year 2014. Worried Souls (Clarinet Concerto) was awarded the Large Christ Johnson Prize (Stora Christ Johnson-priset) from the Royal Swedish Music Academy (Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien).

Following the success as "composer in profile" of Båstad Chamber Music Festival 2016, the first opera The Snow Queen, based on a fairytale by H.C Andersen, was staged at the Malmö Opera in December 2016 with sold-out performances and rave reviews. Staerns second opera HILMA: an opera about hidden art (libretto: Mira Bartov) that was performed at Modern Museum in Stockholm and at the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Looking ahead is a composer weekend at Konserthuset, Stockholm with thirteen major works within the scope of two decades as a composer including two world premieres.

Summary list of works

The Threat of War (1999–2000, rev. 01) for symphony orchestra

Muramaris (2000) for fifteen solo string instruments

Colour wandering (2002) for ten brass musicians

Yellow skies (2003) for alto flute and electronics

Endast luft och brus (2004–05) for tuba and electronics

Sacrificio (2004–05) for tuba, live electronics and symphony orchestra

Confrontation (2006) for trumpet solo and brass quintet

Jubilate (2008) for symphony orchestra

Tranströmersånger (Tranströmer Settings) (2009/10) for alto and ensemble

Bells and Waves (2010) chamber symphony for large ensemble

Worried Souls (2011) concerto for clarinet and symphony orchestra

Godai (2012-13) concerto for orchestra

Sånger av bländvit kärlek (2013) (Songs of Dazzling Love) (poems from misc. collections by Karin Boye) (2013) for alto and orchestra.

Opposing Dance (2013) for flute and guitar.

Saiyah; Concert of Colours (2012-14) for trombone, guitar, large ensemble, stage art and electronics.

Polar Vortex (2014) for symphony orchestra

Snödrottningen, family opera in one act and 15 scenes. (2013-16/18).

Surprise! Trumpet Concertino for trumpet solo and small orchestra (2015)

Air–Spiral–Light concerto for guitar solo and ensemble (2014-16)

Dropwaves: sonata for piano solo (2016-17)

Salomos sång (Solomon's Song) for soprano solo, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (2017)

Historien om en prinsessa (A Princess Tale). Text: Mi Tyler. for 2 actors, clarinet, bassoon, cornet, trombone, percussion, violin and double-bass (2017)

Meditation in colours (2018) for organ solo and strings

HILMA: an opera about hidden art (2018) chamber opera for two singers, violin, cello, piano and electronics

Konnakol Variations (2019) for percussion solo and winds

Scherzo assurdo (2019) for clarinet and pia