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Benda

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BENDA, the name of a family of Czech musicians, of whom the most important is Jifi who was a pupil of his elder brother, Frantisek (1709-1786), Concertmeister in Berlin. Jifi Benda, the violinist, was a famous clavier player and oboist, who was born on June 3o, 1722, and died on Nov. 6, 1795. He played in the royal orchestra at Berlin, and in 1748 became Kapellmeister to the duke of Gotha, but his chief interest for modern musical history lies in his melodramas. Being a far more solid musician than Rousseau he deserves the title of the musical pioneer of that art-form (i.e., the accompaniment of spoken words by illustra tive music) in a sense which cannot be claimed for Rousseau on the strength of his Pygmalion. Benda's first melodrama, Ariadne oaf Naxos, was written in 1774 after his return from a visit to Italy. He was a voluminous composer, also of masses, cantatas and operettas. Mozart's imagination was much fired by Benda's new vehicle for dramatic expression, and in 1778 he wrote to his father with the greatest enthusiasm about a project for compos ing a duodrama on the model of Benda's Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea.

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