Georg Benda

This one gets a bit tricky. The person involved was born in 1722 in a village called 'Staré Benátky' ...and the accents on that name give a clue that we're talking someone born in Eastern Europe... specifically, in the Kingdom of Bohemia, or what would later become Czechoslovakia, or even later: the Czech Republic. This is why you will see his name (offered in optional brackets in New Groves) as Jiří Antonín Benda, because that would be the Czech spelling. It's used on Last.fm far more than the Germanic equivalent of 'Georg Anton', but Wikipedia uses the Germanic spelling, offering the Czech version as a mere variant.

As I say, New Groves (1980 edition) uses and catalogues the guy under his German name, with the Czech spelling merely listed as an optional alternative. Similarly, his middle name (Anton) is offered in brackets, indicating its optionality.

So: it's a confusing situation. However, he emigrated to Prussia in 1742 and was appointed Kapellmeister to Duke Friedrich of Saxe-Gotha in 1750. He also died in Köstritz, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, which is firmly inside what is now Thuringia, a state of modern Germany. It seems he would have thought of himself as Germanic, and an Englishman's natural aversion to unnecessary diacritic marks means that this site adopts the New Groves germanic spelling of 'Georg', whilst also dropping the optional 'Anton'.

In further support of this approach, Herr Benda turns out to have been quite the accomplished German melodrammatist (i.e., a spoken word play with music), a form of entertainment in the 1770s which would go on to profoundly influence Mozart's approach to writing music for the theatre.


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(since January 9th 2021)

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