Benda, Georg Anton (actually, Jirí Antonín)

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Benda, Georg Anton (actually, Jiří Antonín)

Benda, Georg Anton (actually, Jiří Antonín), important Bohemian composer, brother of Franz (Františele) and father of Friedrich Ludwig Benda; b. Alt-Benatek (baptized), June 30, 1722; d. Köstritz, Nov. 6, 1795. He studied at the Jesuit college in Jicin (1739–42), and then was a chamber musician in Berlin (1742–49). In 1750 he was appointed Kapellmeister to Duke Friedrich III of Saxe-Gotha. In 1765 he received a ducal stipend to go to Italy for half a year of study; he then resumed his activities at the court of Duke Friedrich III, becoming Kapellmeister again in 1770. He was in hamburg and Vienna (1778–79), and then resigned his post; eventually he went to Köstritz. His works were distinguished for their dramatic use of rapidly alternating moods (“Affekte”), which became a characteristic trait of the North German school of composition and exercised considerable influence on the development of opera and ballad forms in Germany; his effective use of melodrama (spoken recitative accompanied by orch.) was an important innovation.


DRAMATIC: Opera: Ariadneauf Naxos (Gotha, Jan. 27, 1775); Medea (Leipzig, May 1, 1775); Philon und Theone, also known as Almansor und Nadine (Gotha, Sept. 20, 1779). Singspiels: Der Dorfjahrmarkt (1775); Romeo und Julia (1776); Der Holzhauer (1778). OTHER: Cantatas; piano concertos; syms.; sonatas; sacred music.


R. Hodermann, G.A. B. (Coburg, 1895); F. Brückner, G.A. B. (Rostock, 1904); V. Helfert, G. B. und J.J. Rousseau (Munich, 1908); Z. Pilková, Dramaticka tvorba Jifiho Bendy (Prague, 1960); F. Lorenz, Die Musikerfamilie B.[Vol.] 17. G.A. B. (Berlin, 1971).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire