William Sterndale Bennett

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Born: 13 April 1816

Died: 01 February 1875


William Sterndale Bennett was born 13th April 1816 in Sheffield and died 1st February 1875 in London.

He came from a musical family, his father was the organist of Sheffield Parish Church. He became a chorister at King's College, Cambridge aged 8 years and at 10 passed to The Royal Academy of Music where, at 17, Mendelssohn found him and impressed by his power, invited him to Leipzig in Germany. Here Schumann wrote enthusiastically about him and dedicated his Etudes Symphoniques for piano to him.

Unfortunately, later life did not fulfil earlier promise due, no doubt, to the pressure of teaching pianoforte, the Principalship of The Royal Academy, the Professorship of Music at Cambridge (1856 - 75) and a heavy commitment to conducting, to all of which he gave himself tirelessly. He was knighted in 1871. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Works include: 'The Woman of Samaria', the incidental music to Sophocles' Ajax, odes for International Exhibition (Tennyson), Cambridge Installation of the Chancellor (Kingsley), anthems, Symphony in G Minor, Fantasy Overture on Moore's Paradice and the Peri, four piano concerti, pieces and songs, but the earlier works some 30 years before are the best he composed. They include the delicate overtures 'The Naiads' (1836) and 'The Wood-Nymphs' (1837) and Cantata 'May Queen' composed for the opening of Leeds Town Hall in 1858 which remained popular for many years.

View the Wikipedia article on William Sterndale Bennett.

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