Benedict, Sir Julius


Born at Stuttgart, where his father was a Jewish banker, but settled in England and became to all intents English, so that but few knew that he was of German birth. Began studying early, working with Hummel at Weimar and later at Dresden with the distinguished pianist, Weber, who not only received Benedict as a pupil, but took him into his home and treated him as a son. In 1823, Benedict, on the recommendation of Weber, was appointed conductor of the Karnthnerthor Theatre, Vienna, where he stayed for two years, after which, he went to Italy as conductor for the San Carlo Theatre, Naples. Here he produced his first opera, Giacinta ed Ernesto, in 1829, this was followed by I Portoghesi, which was produced at Stuttgart, in 1830, but both of these operas were unsuccessful. Benedict went to Paris, in 1834, and to England, in 1835, where he remained until his death, becoming essentially English and soon being the most famous and fashionable teacher in London. In 1836, Benedict was appointed musical director of the Opera Buffa and produced a work, already given in Naples, called, Un Anno ed un Giorno. In 1837, he was appointed conductor at the Drury Lane Theatre and the next year brought out his first English opera, The Gypsy's Warning. After conducting for Jenny Lind, in 1848, at her first appearance in oratorio in Elijah, he came with her, in 1850, to the United States, directing most of her concerts. Returned to England, in 1852, and accepted a position as conductor at Her Majesty's Theatre and afterward at Drury Lane Theatre. The same year he was appointed conductor of the Harmonic Union. In 1859, Benedict became conductor of the Monday Popular concerts. He also conducted several Norwich Festivals and, from 1876 to 1880, the Philharmonic Society at Liverpool. He was knighted by Queen Victoria and also received a number of foreign orders. Was professor of piano at Trinity College, London, and professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Beside the operas mentioned, his best known works are the operas, The Brides of Venice, The Crusaders, The Lily of Killarney, and the Bride of Song; the oratorios, The Legend of St. Cecilia, and St. Peter; the cantatas, Undine, Richard Coeur de Lion, and Graziella; also piano music; partsongs and many songs. The Lily of Killarney, St. Peter, and St. Cecilia are Benedict's finest and most popular works.