30th June 1722
6th November 1795
Benatek (today Benátky nad Jizerou), Bohemia
Jiří Antonín Benda, also Georg Anton Benda was a Bohemian kapellmeister, violinist and composer of the classical period. Born in Old Benatek (today Benátky nad Jizerou), Bohemia, he studied at the Piarist Gymnasium (grammar school) in Kosmanos and at the Jesuit Gymnasium in Gitschin from 1735 to 1742. Benda was 19 when Frederick the Great bestowed upon him in 1741 the position of second violinist in the chapel of Berlin. The following year Benda was summoned to Potsdam as a composer and arranger for his older brother Franz, himself an illustrious composer and violinist. Seven years later, in 1749, he entered the service of the Duke of Gotha as Kapellmeister, where he constantly cultivated his talents for composition, specializing in religious music. A stipend from the duke allowed Benda to take a study trip to Italy in 1764. He returned to Gotha in 1766, and devoted himself to composition. In all, he wrote about ten operas, several operettas, and the melodramas Ariadne auf Naxos, Medea and Almansor und Nadine. In 1778 he resigned his position and visited Hamburg, Vienna, and other cities, and finally settled at the little hamlet of Köstritz.