WILLIAM STERNDALE BENNETT (1816 - 1875)
With musical gifts much admired by his friend Robert Schumann, Bennett (who never used the name Sterndale) briefly enjoyed popularity as a composer, although his obvious abilities were later submerged in the demands of public life – as professor of music at the University of Cambridge and later as principal of the Royal Academy of Music. He was knighted in 1871. Interest in his music is now growing, with the occasional revival in particular of his piano music and five piano concertos. His songs remain an important example of the genre in mid-19th-century England.
The Piano Concertos Nos 3 and 4 are a good introduction to Sterndale Bennett’s music, No. 3 with a romantic slow movement and No. 4 with a Barcarole (Gondolier’s Song) slow movement, inserted at the suggestion of Mendelssohn.
Piano and Chamber Music
Sterndale Bennett won a reputation for himself as a pianist and wrote music that fully explored the possibilities of the instrument: e.g. his Sextet, Chamber Trio, and a number of interesting, if now neglected, piano pieces that match the work of Schumann or Chopin.