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Antonín Bennewitz

Antonín Bennewitz

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Antonín Bennewitz (26 March 1833 – 29 May 1926) was a Czech violinist, conductor and teacher. He was in a line of violinists that extended back to Giovanni Battista Viotti
Giovanni Battista Viotti
Giovanni Battista Viotti was an Italian violinist whose virtuosity was famed and whose work as a composer featured a prominent violin and an appealing lyrical tunefulness...

, and forward to Jan Kubelík
Jan Kubelík
Jan Kubelík was a Czech violinist and composer.-Biography:He was born in Michle . His father, a gardener by occupation, was an amateur violinist. He taught his two sons the violin and after discovering the talent of Jan, who was aged five at the time, arranged for him to study with Karel Weber and...

 and Wolfgang Schneiderhan.

He was born in Přívrat
Přívrat
Přívrat is a village and municipality in Ústí nad Orlicí District in the Pardubice Region of the Czech Republic.The municipality covers an area of , and has a population of 337 ....

, Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 as Antonín Benevic, but his name is most often seen in a German rendering, Bennewitz. He studied under Moritz Mildner (Мильднер, Мориц) (Mořic Mildner: 1812-1865) at the Prague Conservatory
Prague Conservatory
Prague Conservatory, sometimes also Prague Conservatoire, in Czech Pražská konzervatoř, is a Czech secondary school in Prague dedicated to teaching the arts of music and theater acting.- Instruction :...

 from 1846 to 1852. He then worked in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 (where he was engaged as first violinist of the Estates Theatre
Estates Theatre
The Estates Theatre or Stavovské divadlo is a historic theatre in Prague, Czech Republic. The Estates Theatre was annexed to the National Theatre in 1948 and currently draws on three artistic ensembles, opera, ballet, and drama, which perform at the Estates Theatre, the National Theatre , and the...

 (1852-1861)), Salzburg
Salzburg
-Population development:In 1935, the population significantly increased when Salzburg absorbed adjacent municipalities. After World War II, numerous refugees found a new home in the city. New residential space was created for American soldiers of the postwar Occupation, and could be used for...

 and Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

. In 1859 he also performed in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

. It was during this period that on 3 December 1855 he participated in the first performance of Bedřich Smetana
Bedrich Smetana
Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He is thus widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music...

’s Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15, in the Prague Konvict Hall, with Smetana himself as pianist and Julius Goltermann as cellist. In 1866 he became Professor of Violin in Prague. In 1876 he succeeded Mildner as leader of Friedrich Pixis (Bedřich Vilém Pixis)’s quartet, which became known as the Bennewitz Quartet. He became the Prague Conservatory’s Director in 1882, serving until 1901, when he was succeeded by Antonín Dvořák
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

. He was among the founders of the Kammermusikverein, whose nationalist ideals stimulated Smetana to write his String Quartet in E minor From My Life
String Quartet No. 1 (Smetana)
String Quartet No. 1 in E minor, written in 1876, is a four-movement Romantic chamber composition by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.- Background :...

.

Bennewitz’s pupils helped make the Prague violin school world-famous. They included František Ondříček
František Ondrícek
František Ondříček was a Czech violinist and composer. He gave the first performance of the Violin Concerto by Antonín Dvořák, and his achievements were recognised by the rare award of honorary membership of the Philharmonic Society of London in 1891.Ondříček was born in Prague, the son of the...

 (who premiered the Dvořák concerto
Violin Concerto (Dvorák)
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 is a concerto for violin and orchestra composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1879. The concerto was premiered in 1883 by František Ondříček in Prague. He also gave the premieres in Vienna and London...

), Karel Halíř
Karel Halír
Karel Halíř was a Czech violinist who lived mainly in Germany...

 (who premiered the revised version of the Sibelius concerto
Violin Concerto (Sibelius)
The Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47, was written by Jean Sibelius in 1904.-History:Sibelius originally dedicated the concerto to the noted violinist Willy Burmester, who promised to play the concerto in Berlin...

), Otakar Ševčík
Otakar Ševcík
Otakar Ševčík was a Czech violinist and influential teacher. He was known as a soloist and an ensemble player, including his occasional performances with Eugène Ysaÿe.-Biography:...

, Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár was an Austrian-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow .-Biography:...

, and three members of the Bohemian Quartet
Bohemian Quartet
The Bohemian Quartet were a Czech string quartet of international repute that was founded in 1891 and disbanded in 1934.- Origins :The Quartet was founded in Budapest by three pupils of Antonín Bennewitz and a pupil of Hanuš Wihan ; Bennewitz and Wihan were both teachers at the Prague Conservatory...

 (later known as the Czech Quartet) - Karel Hoffmann
Karel Hoffmann
Karel Hoffmann was a Czech violinist and music pedagogue, a founding member and first violinist of the Bohemian Quartet. In 1926–1927 he was appointed the rector of the Prague Conservatory.- Biography :...

 and Josef Suk
Josef Suk (composer)
Josef Suk was a Czech composer and violinist.- Life :Suk was born in Křečovice. He studied at Prague Conservatory from 1885 to 1892, where he was a pupil of Antonín Dvořák and Antonín Bennewitz. In 1898, he married Dvořák's eldest daughter, Otilie Dvořáková , affectionately known as Otilka...

 (violinists), and Oskar Nedbal
Oskar Nedbal
Oskar Nedbal was a Czech violist, composer, and conductor of classical music.-Life:Nedbal was born in Tábor, in southern Bohemia. He studied the violin at the Prague Conservatory under Antonín Bennewitz...

 (violist).

On 25 February 1895, he conducted to great acclaim the first complete performance of Josef Suk’s Serenade for Strings in E flat
Serenade for Strings (Suk)
Josef Suk's Serenade for Strings in E flat major, Op. 6, was composed in 1892.While Suk was studying under Antonín Dvořák at the Prague Conservatory, Dvořák noticed a melancholy strain in much of Suk's music, and recommended he write some lighter and more cheerful music...

, Op. 6, with the Prague Conservatory Orchestra (two movements had been heard 14 months earlier, conducted by Suk himself). On 3 June 1896, at the Prague Conservatory, Bennewitz conducted the first (semi-public) performances of Dvořák’s symphonic poems The Noon Witch
The Noon Witch
The Noon Witch , Op. 108, B 196, is a symphonic poem written in 1896 by Antonín Dvořák inspired by the Karel Erben poem Polednice from the collection Kytice. Polednice is based on the noon demon "Lady Midday" of slavic mythology....

, The Water Goblin
The Water Goblin
The Water Goblin is a symphonic poem, Op. 107 , written by Antonín Dvořák in 1896.The source of inspiration for The Water Goblin was a poem found in a collection published by Karel Jaromír Erben under the title Kytice; while Dvořák composed six symphonic poems, four of these were inspired by works...

and The Golden Spinning Wheel.

In 1988 a new Bennewitz Quartet, named in honour of Antonín Bennewitz, was founded in Prague.

Sources

  • Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed.