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Jiří Antonín BENDA

(*30.6.1722, Staré Benátky - ✝6.11.1795, Bad Köstritz)

Composer and conductor of Czech origin

He studied at the School of Piarist Convent in Kosmonosy and Jesuit School in Jičín. In 1742 he settled in Postupim with his parents and brothers where they lived withe their two other brothers, František and Jan Jiří. They were the members of the Court Royal Band. In 1750 he became a Kapellmeister of Friedrich III., Duke of Saxe Gotha. There was a great milieu for the love of art at this Court. Benda composed spiritual cantatas, instrumental compositions and music for theatre. In 1774, he began to compose stage-melodramas, a new form that was inspired by the Seyler Theatre Society, which visited the Roayl Court. Melodramas such as Ariadne auf Naxos, Medea, Der Dorfjahrmarkt, Walder (1775), Romeo and Juliette (1776) and Der Holzhauer (1777) have brought him fame. In 1778 he resigned for the controversy at the Court and he returned to Saxe Gotha. He received the life-long pension from the Duke and was able to devote himself to composing new works. He lived in several small German villages during the last years of his life. His work includes approximately 30 symphonies, instrumental concerts, chamber compositions, Italian stage-compositions and melodramas.