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Benda. Bohem. mus. family active in the 18th cent., 4 of them being the sons of a weaver and peripatetic musician. Three of these were:(1) František ( Franz) (b Staré-Benátky, 1709; d Potsdam, 1786). Chorister in Prague, then became violinist and moved to Dresden. In 1732 obtained a place at the Berlin court of Crown Prince of Prussia, later Frederick the Great. In 1771 became Frederick's Konzertmeister, accompanying him in fl. conc. Works incl. trio sonatas, vn. concs., 6 vn. sonatas, and 2 books of vn. Études.(2) Jiři Antonin ( Georg) (b Jungbunzlau, 1722; d Köstritz, Thuringia, 1795). Skilled oboist and kbd.-player. Went to Berlin in 1740 for lessons from his brother ((1) above). Violinist in royal band from 1742. Became Kapellmeister to Duke of Gotha in 1748. Spent 2 years in It. after 1764; on return wrote his Ariadne auf Naxos (1774) which earned him the claim to have invented melodrama. Another melodrama, Medea, followed, also Romeo und Julie (1776). Retired 1778.(3) Josef (b Staré-Benátky, 1724; d Berlin, 1804). Violinist, succeeded his brother František as leader of Frederick the Great's orch.

Several sons of the above also achieved mus. distinction, usually in Prussian court bands. Jiři's son, Friedrich Ludwig (b Gotha, 1752; d Königsberg, 1792) comp. an oratorio, church cantatas, 3 operas incl. Der Barbier von Sevilla (1776) and 3 vn. concs. František's eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich (b Potsdam, 1745; d Potsdam, 1814) was a fine violinist, playing in the Berlin court band from 1782, and comp. 2 operas, Alceste (1786) and Orpheus (1785), an operetta, Das Blumenmädchen, a cantata Pygmalion, and instr. works.

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