Franz Benda (1709-1786)
Douglas A. Lee
Franz Benda was one of the leading figures in the musical entourage assembled by Frederick II of Prussia in the mid-eighteenth century. His renown and influence on musical style of the early Classic era have been documented through many contemporary accounts of his skill as a performer through the number and wide dispersion of his works and by the collective influence of his many students during the later eighteenth century. Surveying Benda’s complete catalogue his symphonies concertos and sonatas were the works by which he was best known and among these the solo-bass sonatas alone comprise a significant corpus of chamber music. Among his lesser-known works─trio sonatas duets and caprices─the caprices for solo violin formed the basis for violin studies well into the nineteenth century.