As composer, conductor and performer Warren Benson (1924-2005) was perhaps best known for his music for wind ensemble and percussion, and for his song cycles. Benson wrote over 150 works. His music has been played and recorded worldwide by the Kronos Quartet, New York Choral Society, International Horn Society and United States Marine Band. Benson’s teaching career spanned over 50 years and culminated with honors including the Kilbourn Professorship for Distinguished Teaching, and appointment as University Mentor and Professor Emeritus at the Eastman School of Music.
Benson played timpani in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Ormandy, Reiner, Goosens, and Bernstein while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. He later received Fulbright Teaching Fellowships, a John Simon Guggenheim Composer Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts composer commissions and the Diploma de Honor from the Republic of Argentina. He also held residencies at the McDowell Colony. He was elected to the National Band Association Academy of Excellence and the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, and was a founding member of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles.
From 1950-1952, Benson was awarded two successive Fulbright grants to teach at Anatolia College in Salonika, Greece. Benson was Professor of Percussion and Composition for fourteen years at Ithaca College. From 1967-93, he was Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. He also served as Distinguished Meadows Visiting Professor at Southern Methodist University from 1986-88.
Benson was largely self-taught in composition, found great inspiration in jazz and poetry, and was highly influenced by nature, languages, literature, and travel. His archive is located at the Eastman School of Music and his bio-bibliography by Alan D. Wagner is published by Edwin Mellen Press.
Works for Winds
- Beaded Leaf, The
- Concertino for Alto Saxophone (Benson)
- Daughter of the Stars
- Dawn's Early Light
- Ginger Marmalade
- Leaves Are Falling, The
- Passing Bell, The
- Scherzo, Chorale, and Aria Serena (2002)
- Shadow Wood
- Solitary Dancer, The
- Symphony for Drums and Wind Orchestra
- Symphony No. 2, "Lost Songs"
- Warren Benson - Official Website
- McCutchen, Mathew G. (2009) An Examination of the History and Winning Pieces of the National Band Association's Composition Contest: 1977-2008. Florida State University, Doctoral Dissertation.