BENNETT, Sir William Sterndale (1816-1875)
Plaque erected in 1996 by English Heritage at 38 Queensborough Terrace, Bayswater, London, W2 3SH, City of Westminster
Music and Dance
SIR WILLIAM BENNETT 1816-1875 Composer lived here
Sir William Sterndale Bennett was one of the most important English composers of the 19th century. While living at 38 Queensborough Terrace in Bayswater, he produced the successful cantata The Woman of Samaria (1867).
Bennett was a musical prodigy who entered the Royal Academy of Music at the age of nine. When the German composer Felix Mendelssohn heard him perform his first piano concerto in 1833, he was so impressed that he invited the young composer to visit him in Germany. It proved to be the start of an important friendship, and the two musicians frequently sought each other’s opinions of their new compositions.
Bennett settled in London in 1837, initially in Fitzrovia. Among his early successes were The Naiades (1836), a popular orchestral work, and Suite de Pièces (1841), for piano. Many of his best compositions were those written for the piano, and Bennett himself was an excellent pianist. Teaching took up much of his time after his marriage in 1844 to Mary Anne Wood and in 1856 he was elected Professor of Music at Cambridge. From 1866 he was Principal of the Royal Academy of Music, where his pupils included Arthur Sullivan.
In autumn 1865 the widowed Bennett moved to 38 Queensborough Terrace, a mid-Victorian house. He lived here until 1870, when he let the property for two years and moved into 18 Porchester Terrace, immediately to the rear, which he had acquired in 1866.
Knighted in 1871, Bennett returned briefly to number 38 in 1872 before moving to St John’s Wood in September 1873. During his time in Queensborough Terrace he enjoyed a creative renaissance, with such well-received works as the sacred cantata The Woman of Samaria (1867) and the piano sonata The Maid of Orleans (1873).