BENEDICT, Sir Julius (1804-1885)
Plaque erected in 1934 by London County Council at 2 Manchester Square, Marylebone, London, W1U 3PA, City of Westminster
Music and Dance
SIR JULIUS BENEDICT (1804-1885) MUSICAL COMPOSER lived and died here
Sir Julius Benedict was a composer and conductor who popularised classical music in the 19th century. He moved into 2 Manchester Square in Marylebone in 1845 and died there 40 years later at the age of 80.
The son of a wealthy German banker, Benedict studied music with Jan Hummel in Stuttgart and with Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden. Through Weber he met Beethoven and Mendelssohn.
He came to London in 1835, and became conductor first of the Italian Opera at the Lyceum and then at Drury Lane, where he premiered his own compositions. These included The Gipsy’s Warning (1838), The Bride of Venice (1843) and The Crusaders (1846).
Although his oratorios and his later opera, The Lily of Killarney (1862), met with some success, Benedict was renowned more for his performances of works by his contemporaries, especially those by Michael Balfe and Mendelssohn. He was also known as an accomplished pianist.
He was the conductor for the 1848 performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah in which Jenny Lind made her first appearance as an oratorio singer. He later accompanied Lind on her extensive American tour, until her future husband took over the duties in 1851.
In England, he was also active outside London, conducting at the Norwich festival every year between 1845 and 1878 and directing the Liverpool Philharmonic Society from 1876 to 1880.
Benedict became a naturalised British citizen before receiving a knighthood in 1871, awarded in recognition of his role in popularising classical music.