17th July 1885
30th July 1943
Upper Holloway, Islington, London, England
Benjamin James Dale was an English composer and academic who had a long association with the Royal Academy of Music. Dale showed compositional talent from an early age and went on to write a small but notable corpus of works. His best-known composition is probably the large-scale Piano Sonata in D minor he started while still a student at the Royal Academy of Music, which communicates in a potent late romantic style. Christopher Foreman has proposed a comprehensive reassessment of Benjamin Dale's music.
Dale won many prizes at the Royal Academy of Music for composition when he was still very young. He wrote a Pianosonata in D minor which shows the influence of Romantic composers such as Liszt and Schumann. It was played by pianists such as York Bowen and Dame Myra Hess who were becoming famous. He wrote music for viola for Lionel Tertisto play.
He was in Germany when World War I broke out and was a prisoner in the camp at Ruhleben. There were other musicians there, including the Canadian Ernest MacMillan who later became a famous conductor. They organized a lot of musical events at the camp. Ernest MacMillan gave lectures about each of the nine symphonies by Beethoven, after which he and Dale would play the whole symphony in a piano duet arrangement.
After the war he worked as an Associated Board examiner. He became professor of harmony at the Royal Academy of Music. He continued to compose music. His ballade for violin was especially popular. Dale’s music is not played much today, but there have been some attempts to make his music known again through CD recordings.