When George Met Arnold

When George Met Arnold

A friendship forged in music

“Both thought-provoking and entertaining, Benedict and Tedeschi’s celebration of “a friendship forged in music” hit the mark with the packed-out audience.”

Steve Moffatt, Limelight Magazine

About the Project


A multimedia performance project celebrating the unlikely friendship between two iconic early 20th-century composers, George Gershwin and Arnold Schoenberg. The project introduces audiences to an original and engaging concert format that blends a documentary element (using newly created film) with live orchestral performance.

When the 37-year-old George Gershwin moved into a new house in Hollywood, he discovered that the 62-year-old Viennese refugee composer Arnold Schoenberg lived around the corner. Gershwin invited Schoenberg to his house for a game of tennis, and a remarkable if tragically short-lived friendship was forged. They played tennis together every week, and the conversations (imagined or otherwise) they had after those tennis matches – about music, art, love, and the situation in Europe – form the content of the show and direct the narrative. They had deep admiration for each other’s work; Gershwin demonstrated that admiration by financing recordings of Schoenberg’s music. Schoenberg, derided for his uncompromising modernity, said that the true musical innovator was Gershwin. It is not just a story about the power of music-it is about memory, trauma, friendship, life, death, humour and hope.

This ground-breaking concert project, for full symphony orchestra, piano soloist (Gershwin specialist Simon Tedeschi) and conductor (Roger Benedict), is being offered to orchestras, festivals, and concert promotors around the world. The performance incorporates a specially created film, like a mini biopic, with actors playing the two composers. The film segments are interspersed with carefully chosen works by both Gershwin and Schoenberg.


Sydney Symphony Orchestra




4[1.2.3/pic.pic]  3[1.2.Eh]  4[1.2.Ebcl.bcl]  3[1.2.cbn] — 4  3  3  1 — tmp+3 — hp — pf/cel— str (

Orchestral piano and celeste will be played by the soloist. Only one piano is needed, set front of stage.



Gershwin: Girl Crazy Overture 1930 6’
Gershwin: Promenade (Walking the Dog: The Real McCoy) 1937 3’
Gershwin/Tedeschi: Improvisation on Shall We Dance 5’
Schoenberg: Notturno for Strings and Harp (1895) 3’
Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra op 16, 3. Farben (revised version 1909; rev 1949) 3’
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue, Excerpt (full orchestra version, 1942) 6’

– interval –

Schoenberg: Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene, op.34, “Threatening Danger” section 5’ <1929–1930> 5’
Gershwin: Catfish Row: Symphonic Suite from “Porgy and Bess”, 2. “Bess you is my woman now”  1935-1936 4’
Schoenberg: String Quartet no 2 op 10 arr. Schoenberg, 1.Mässig 6’
Gershwin: Piano concerto in F, Mvt 3. 1925 7’
Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra op 16, 1. Premonitions (revised version 1909; rev 1949) 2’
Schoenberg: Piano concerto op 42, 3. Adagio “A grave situation was created” 1942 7’
Schoenberg: Pelléas und Melisande op 5,  Last section (Fig 62) – Golo’s despair (Stein reduction)  5’
Gershwin: Embraceable You arr. orchestra and piano RB 4’

The performance lasts 2 hours including an interval.
1st half 40 mins, 2nd half 55 mins





Arnold: Chris Burke
George: Sam O’Sullivan
Hannah: Emily Weare

Script: Roger Benedict, Laurence Coy, Simon Tedeschi
Director: Laurence Coy
Original artwork: Loribelle Spirovski

Production Manager: Becky Matthews
Cinematographer: Sam Collins
Camera: Scott Wood
Camera attachment: Liam Coleman
Gaffer: Jesse Frazer
Lighting assistant: Jack Fairclough
Sound recordist: Mario Gabrieli
Boom op: Jaedon Cooper
Art Department, make-up: Heidi Kaye

Executive producers: Roger Benedict, Simon Tedeschi


Dialogue in the film sections is in English. Subtitles in other languages will be possible.




Roger Benedict

Roger Benedict’s career as a conductor has been informed and enriched by more than two decades as a principal player in some of the world’s leading orchestras, by his extensive work as a soloist and chamber musician, and through his deep involvement in orchestral training and development. Over the last 15 years Roger has earned a reputation as a musician’s musician, a conductor of deep musical convictions and a highly engaging performer and communicator.

From 1991–2000 Roger was Principal Viola in the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, and following that held the same position in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. From 2002–2021 he was Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony Fellowship Program and was responsible for building it into one of the world’s leading professional

training programs for musicians. He now holds the position of Chief Conductor at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
A regular guest conductor with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Roger has conducted the orchestra in subscription concerts at the Sydney Opera House, at City Recital Hall and on tour. He also enjoys regular collaborations with other Australian and UK orchestras.

Roger has gained admiration for his adventurous and imaginative programming and for his dedication to outreach and community activity, leading concerts and workshops in prisons, aged care facilities and the corporate sector. He conceived and conducted several highly successful fundraising concerts with Orchestra for Life, raising significant sums for suicide prevention and Indigenous mental health charities. Roger has held teaching appointments at the Royal Northern College of Music (UK) and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (where he is currently an Associate Professor) and he gives masterclasses throughout Europe and Asia.



Simon Tedeschi

Simon Tedeschi is one of Australia’s most renowned classical pianists and a critically acclaimed author. Recipient of the Young Performer of the Year Award, the Creativity Foundation’s Legacy Award (USA), the New York Young Jewish Pianist Award and a Centenary of Federation Medal, he has performed for audiences, royalty and world leaders worldwide, from the Sydney Opera House to Carnegie Hall.

Simon performed his first Mozart piano concerto in the Sydney Opera House aged nine, later studying and performing in the USA. Since returning to Australia in 2009, he regularly performs as soloist with all the major Australian symphony orchestras, and tours nationally for festivals, venues and presenters including Musica Viva Australia. Uncommonly for a classical pianist, Tedeschi also dabbles in jazz, and has co-written and toured internationally the Sydney Opera House’s Meeting Mozart children’s show, and a number of shows combining words and music, for Monkey Baa Theatre, and with Australian theatre icon, John Bell.

Simon’s latest album, Debussy – Ravel with violist and conductor Roger Benedict received a 2023 ARIA Award nomination for Best Classical Album, adding to his numerous recordings for ABC Classics/Universal Music such as The Gershwin Collection, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, R. Strauss’ Enoch Arden, and concerti by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Grieg.
Alongside his performing career, Tedeschi’s fast gaining renown as a writer of note, winning the prestigious Calibre Essay Prize for 2022 and Tedeschi’s critically acclaimed literary debut, Fugitive (for Upswell Publishing) shortlisted in the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, and 2023 Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection.



When George Met Arnold Technical Document

Project Manager

Imogen Morris (+44 (0) 7810 800016)