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Jori Antonin Benda

Georg Anton (Jiří Antonin) Benda Staré Benátky, 1722–Köstritz 1795, Bohemian composer, the father of the German melodrama.  He pursued his studies in music at the Jesuit grammar school in Jičin, then at the age of 19 he joined the Prussian court orchestra with the help of his brother, Franz. Eight years later in 1749 he entered the service of Frederick III. Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, he lived and worked in Gotha for 28 years. In the first period he mostly composed liturgical and instrumental pieces, then with financial support from the duke he made a study trip to Italy. Under this Italian influence he himself started to compose operas in Italian style. In 1775, the ensemble of the theatre of Weimar, which was destroyed in a fire, moved to Gotha. This was when Benda started to compose theatre music, primarily melodramas, which were performed not only by the Weimarians but by companies all over the country, then they gained Europe-wide popularity. In 1778 Benda resigned from his position in Gotha, and embarked on tours all over Europe. In 1785 he retired completely and lived in various cities in Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg for the rest of his life.