Georg (Anton) [Jirí Antonin] Benda

(1722 - 1795)

Georg (Anton) [Jiri Antonin] Benda

Bohemian composer. Early music study was in Kosmonos and Jicín in Bohemia; in 1742 he and his parents moved to Potsdam, where he joined his brother Franz in the court orchestra of Frederick II. In 1750 he became Kapellmeister at Frederick III's ducal chapel at Gotha. Upon the latter's death in 1772, Benda—free from his duties composing sacred works—devoted much effort to theater music. His singspiels such as Der Jahrmarkt (1775) and Romeo und Juliet (1776), and especially the melodramas such as Ariadne auf Naxos (1775) and Medea (1775), were highly successful. Mozart praised the latter two works, which he heard in Mannheim in 1778 (letter of Nov. 12, 1778). That year Benda moved to Hamburg and shortly thereafter to Vienna, but received no appointment at either court. In all he composed fifteen stage works, many sacred cantatas and oratorios, songs, some thirty symphonies, concertos, and many solo keyboard works.

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