JAN JIRI BENDA (1686 - 1757)
The Benda family has occupied an important and continuing place in music in Germany for some 250 years. The founder of the musical dynasty, Jan Jir Benda, was born in 1686 in a village in Bohemia and combined the trades of weaver and musician. He married Dorota Brixi, a member of the Skalsko branch of a distinguished family of Czech musicians, and five of their six children became musicians, working in Germany. There the eldest son of the family, Frantisek, composer of some eighty violin sonatas and fifteen concertos, entered the service of the Prussian Crown Prince, continuing as Konzertmeister after the latter's accession to the throne as Frederick the Great. Frantisek Benda was a colleague of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach in Potsdam, where both showed a certain originality in an otherwise musically conservative court, the former more notably in his violin concertos. In 1742, two years after Frederick's accession, the Benda family joined Frantisek in Potsdam. The second son, Jan Jir Benda, had also entered the service of the Crown Prince as a viola-player, continuing his service at Potsdam as a violinist, while the fourth, Joseph Benda, joined the Prussian royal orchestra in 1742 and later succeeded his eldest brother as Konzertmeister. A daughter of the family, Anna, found a career for herself as Kammersngerin in the service of the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, on the recommendation of her brother Jir Antonin. In Gotha she married the court violinist and composer Dismas Hatas.