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František Benda

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František Benda (November 25, 1709 – March 7, 1786) was a Czech violinist and composer. He was the brother of Jiří Antonín Benda, and he worked for much of his life at the court of Frederick the Great.

Early in the eighteenth century František Benda was born in Bohemia at the village of Staré Benártky, and Benda became the founder of a German school of violin playing. In his youth he was a chorister at Prague and afterward in the Chapel Royal at Dresden. At the same time he began to study the violin, and soon joined a company of strolling musicians who attended fêtes, fairs, etc. At eighteen years of age Benda abandoned this wandering life and returned to Prague, going thence to Vienna, where he pursued his study of the violin under Graun, a pupil of Tartini. After two years he was appointed chapel master at Warsaw, and eventually he became a member of the Prince Royal of Prussia’s band, and then concert master to the king.

Benda was a master of all the difficulties of violin playing, and the rapidity of his execution and the mellow sweetness of his highest notes were unequalled. He had many pupils and wrote a number of works, chiefly exercises and studies for the violin.

More recently there was a František Benda who was a composer of film scores and other works during the 20th century. The Benda Chamber Orchestra carrying and honoring the name of the Benda musicians family, was founded in 1956 in Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia, Czech Republic.

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