Franz Benda

Bohemian violinist and composer

Franz Benda (Czech: František Benda; baptised 22 November 1709 – 7 March 1786) was a Bohemian violinist and composer. He worked for Frederick the Great.

Franz Benda

Early Life


Benda was born in Benátky nad Jizerou, Bohemia.[1] His parents were Jan Jiří Benda and Dorothea Benda. Jan Jiří was a weaver and an amateur musician. Dorothea Benda (née Brixi) was the daughter of a musician. He had four brothers, Johann Benda, Joseph Benda, Viktor Benda, and Georg Benda. Franz was the oldest surviving son. Three of his brothers became musicians. Viktor did not become a musician.[2]

Benda received musical training from his father. He became a choir singer in Prague. In 1719 he ran away to Dresden. He sang in the royal chapel of Dresden. He also studied playing the violin and the viola in Dresden. He returned home in 1723. He joined the choir of the Clementinum in Prague. When his voice broke, he focused on practicing the violin. He studied the concertos of Antonio Vivaldi.[1]



In 1727, Benda was employed as a musician for Count von Ostein in Vienna. He ran away to Warsaw with his musician friends. He did not want to join the military.[2] He stayed in Warsaw for two years. In Warsaw, he secretly changed his religion. He became a Protestant.[3][4] In 1733 Benda returned to Dresden. While visiting Ruppin, he met Crown Prince Frederick. Frederick hired Benda as a violinist. In Potsdam he studied with Johann Gottlieb Graun and Carl Heinrich Graun.

King Frederick allowed Benda's family to move to Potsdam.[1] His family were converted to Protestantism.[3]

Benda wrote an autobiography of his life in 1763. Benda died on 17 March 1786 in Nowawes, near Potsdam.

Benda wrote concertos, sinfonias, sonatas, and many chamber works.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Drake, John D.; Zdeňka Pilková, Pilková; Lee, Douglas A.; Bauman, Thomas; Reich, Nancy B. (2001). "Benda family". In Pilková, Z; Bauman, Thomas (eds.). Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.43903. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lorenz, Franz (2015). Franz Benda und seine Nachkommen. De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110817805. ISBN 9783110817805.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nettl, Paul (1951). "Franz Benda's Autobiography". Forgotten Musicians. Philosophical Library. pp. 204–245.
  4. Heartz, Daniel (1988). "Coming of Age in Bohemia: The Musical Apprenticeships of Benda and Gluck". The Journal of Musicology. 6 (4). University of California Press: 510–527. doi:10.2307/763744. JSTOR 763744.