Release date April 22, 2016




We are in Prussia during the 18th century, and more precisely in Potsdam, at Sanssouci Castle. The three brothers Franz, Georg Anton and Johann Benda, born in Alt-Benátky near Prague, work here as musicians and composers at the court of Frederick the Great. Georg is very impressed by the enlightened and tol- erant atmosphere of the court, where Voltaire is a regular visitor. He becomes a Protestant and a Freemason. Even though the king is a musician, he has no taste for musical innovation. Georg cannot develop his skills as a composer at Sanssouci and he is only second violin in Frederick the Great’s orchestra. He therefore moves in 1750 to the court of Saxe-Gotha, where he can express his innovative talent as Hofkapellmeister.

As a child, he studied rhetoric and “expressive declamation” at school, which now helps him be- come the best representative of the “melodramatic form” recently created by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Gotha’s court orchestra (Hofkapelle) commissions church, court and theatre music, but no opera. Nonetheless, Xindo Riconosciuto, Benda’s only Italian opera, is premiered at the court in 1765. But finding no stimulation for the composition of dramatic music, he requests a six-month study trip to Italy. He is already 43 years old when he visits Venice, Bologna, Florence, and Rome. Five years after his return from Italy, he is appointed Kapelldirektor in Gotha.

In 1774, Europe’s most famous theatre company, founded in 1769 by Abel Seyler, a Swiss banker, actor and philanthropist, settles at the court of Gotha. The company’s repertoire includes German plays, Sing- spiele and Rousseau’s melodrama Pygmalion (a piece that also inspired Benda). Seyler establishes Gotha’s first Masonic lodge; Georg and the Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg are among its members. He also com- missions Benda to compose several melodramas, including Medea and Ariadne auf Naxos. The latter receives rave reviews in Germany and throughout Europe, highlighting the originality, sweetness and ingenious skill of the work. Further compositions of the Gotha period follow: Benda’s Singspiele Romeo und Julie, Walder and Der Holzhauer. Benda leaves his post in 1778, apparently after a dispute with the composer Anton Schweitzer, Kapellmeister of the Seyler troupe and the Gotha Theatre.

Seeking employment in vain, he travels to Hamburg, Mannheim, Berlin and Vienna. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, after a performance of Medea in Mannheim, writes on November 12, 1778 to his father: “I saw such a piece twice here with the greatest pleasure! – Really – nothing ever surprised me more! What I saw was “Medea” by Benda; he also composed another one, “Ariadne auf Naxos”, both thorough- ly excellent; you know that among the Lutheran Kapellmeisters Benda always was my favourite; I like these two works so much that I carry them about with me.” In another letter he adds: “My passion for this kind of work is immense”. Benda inspired the 24-year-old Mozart for his opera Zaide (1780) and, as late as 1791, the Introitus of Mozart’s Requiem, written shortly before his death, is strongly reminiscent of the Trauergesang “Im Grabe wohnt Vergessenheit” from the third act of Romeo und Julie composed by Benda 15 years earlier (1776). In Vienna, Benda composes his last melodramas Theone and Pygmalion, and returns to Gotha where he receives a pension for life.

He then withdraws from social events and lives far from all cities, working primarily at the preparation of an edition of his earlier musical works. In 1781, he travels again to Paris, where he puts on a performance of Ariadne auf Naxos, and in 1792 he definitively ends his career as a composer with his cantata Bendas Klagen. During his last years his interest is focused on the political ideas of the French Revolution and he devotes himself to philosophy.

All of Georg Benda’s five children become musicians, singers or actors. The following anecdote illustrates nicely his character and his nature: his wife has just passed away and he goes to the piano to express his grief through soulful modulations. On being asked whether to send out the notices of his wife’s death, Benda, thoroughly absorbed in his music and charmed by his inventions, goes into her room to discuss it with her. Only at the sight of her lifeless body does he realize again what happened.

Georg Benda dies in Köstritz in Thuringia at the age of 73.

Rossini in Blu-ray High Definition Audio Disc (including Volume 3 & 4)

Rossini's Complete Overtures including Volume 3 & 4.
Blu-ray High Definition Audio Disc.


Christian Benda - Rossini Volume 4

Volume 4 of Rossini's Complete Overtures.

Christian Benda - Rossini Volume 3

Volume 3 of Rossini's Complete Overtures.

Rossini in Blu-ray High Definition Audio Disc (including Volume 1 & 2)

Rossini's Complete Overtures including Volume 1 & 2.
Blu-ray High Definition Audio Disc.

Rated 10/10
Christophe Huss - Classics Today France
...Getting rid of the Karajan style “wall of strings”, we discover colors and counterpoint in this music full of accents. Without bragging nor brutality, Benda plays this rustic and refreshing game. In an overall just a little tangy sound, in order not to evoke any purring comfort, Benda gives a nice boost to the overtures and their discography. We do not have here a CD featuring a “best of”program since this is volume 1 of a future complete set, but everything (see the transition to the coda in Otello) is approached with the same seriousness in articulation and clarity. At the end of the course, if it continues at this level, Benda will be better and steal a march on his only rival, Neville Marriner on Philips. Thus another success for Naxos.

David Hurwitz - Classics Today UK
Up to now, the standard collection of Rossini overtures has been Neville Marriner’s correct but somewhat flat-footed series on Philips. This new project promises to improve on that set considerably. Christian Benda’s Prague Sinfonia has all of the discipline of Marriner’s ensemble, but with an extra sprightliness and vivacity—bright piccolo and wind sonorities plus crisp percussion—that the earlier set doesn’t match. There’s more sheer fun in the music making on this new release, a quality that’s fully in evidence and properly exploited, even in Rossini’s most serious music… I look forward eagerly to the rest of this cycle. It sounds like it may well become the series of choice.

Michael Tumelty - Herald Scottland
This is effervescent music that, in the right hands, retains its full sparkle and splendour. And here is a cracking, taut and exhilarating new set from the terrifically lean and energetic Prague Sinfonia, directed with full Rossinian dynamism and momentum by Christian Benda.

Christian Benda - Rossini Volume 2

Volume 2 of Rossini's Complete Overtures has been released in May 2013.

Christian Benda - Rossini Volume 1

Together with the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra
and the Prague Philharmonic Choir,
conductor Christian Benda has recorded
the complete overtures by
Gioachino Rossini for the label Naxos.

Volume 1 of the recording has been released
in October 2012.

Jerry Dubins - Fanfare
...Benda and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra’s performances are an absolute delight, featuring playing that’s bright as a button and droll as those Rossini caricatures one commonly sees plastered on program posters and album covers. This first volume affords both a strong start and a strong promise for the most comprehensive and important survey of Rossini’s overtures since Marriner’s 1970s effort.That’s a definite recommendation.

John Sheppard - Music Web International
The Prague Sinfonia Orchestra and Christian Benda have already recorded the complete Overtures of Schubert for Naxos on two well filled and utterly delightful discs… It was an obvious step to move next to the complete Overtures of Rossini which so obviously inspired Schubert. I am happy to say that this disc has many of the same very successful features of its predecessors. From Toscanini to Giulini or Gui, and from Marriner to Norrington there is a very wide range of recoreded performances available and Benda stands up well in this very distinguished company. There is real theatrical vitality in each of these performances, as well as grace and wit in phrasing... This is an admirable start to what looks like being a very desirable series.

To be: no question

It's been a few days since Václav Havel cannot be attained any more
By our glance in the physical world.
But it is with joyful and luminous strength
That he shines thoroughly through our spiritual vision.

As human being, doubt, among us, is a commonplace,
And it is comforting to see come true
The deepest mission of man:
To be, unconditionally,
Through liberty,
Without any possible doubt,
Without any question.

He made the words of ancient time resound:
Uniting the present, the past and the future.

He made the sounds of a light echo
Which does not go out with night,
But shines as a sun in the firmament
While our eyes do not perceive it any more.

It is full of gratitude,
That we may thank life
For letting us
Cross the road of Václav Havel.

Christian Benda

SCHUBERT Complete Overtures, Prague Sinfonia, Christian Benda now on Blu-Ray Audio

Schubert wrote his first theatrical work when he was fourteen and his hopes of success in the genre, never truly realised, were long lasting. He wrote concert overtures and music for Singspiele (Song-plays), in some of which he was guided by his teacher, Salieri. The music for the melodrama Die Zauberharfe (The Magic Harp) is better known as the Overture to Rosamunde, but evidence of his captivating vitality, tunefulness and theatricality is everywhere to be heard. Of volume 1 of the CD release (8.570328) the American Record Guide wrote: ‘The Prague players relish these sun-lit and tuneful pieces and respond with great enthusiasm and affection.’

Sound format: PCM Stereo / DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Note: This Blu-ray Audio Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard CD or DVD players.

RUDOLFINUM, DVORAK HALL Thursday, 4th August, 2011 at 7.30pm - VIVA L’ITALIA! 150 Years of Italian Unity

Fabrizio von Arx - Italian violin virtuoso
Christian Benda, conductor

under the High Patronage of the Italian Embassy in Prague


G. Rossini - L'inganno felice
N. Campogrande - Soffio blues
G. Rossini - Sinfonia in Re maggiore
M. Bruch - Violin Concerto N° 1 op. 26 in G minor
G. Rossini - Demetrio e Polibio
P. de Sarasate- Introduction and Tarantella op. 43
P. de Sarasate - Carmen Fantasy Op. 25
G. Rossini - Sinfonia "al conventello"

Uto Ughi and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra open Ravenna Musica

ph. Flavio Frascarelli

Join Kofi Annan’s Climate Justice Campaign !

Classical musicians Daniel Barenboim, Barbara Hendricks, Christian Benda become Climate Allies



Jean-Philippe Collard with Prague Sinfonia in Bucharest

To hear and see them:




(ph. Irina Stanescu)

Philippe Entremont in concert with Prague Sinfonia (Italy)

The Prague Sinfonia under Christian Benda in Milan

Orchestra performance, 19.11 9 p.m. Grande Sala Verdi, Conservatorio


W.A. Mozart Symphony N°1 K.16 E flat Major
Beethoven Concerto for piano N° 2 op. 19 B flat Major
W.A. Mozart: Symphony Nr. 40 in g min. K.550

The Prague Sinfonia and Christian Benda in Asia

CONCERT in SHANGHAI, SEPT 2d, Shanghai Concert Hall
CONCERT in SINGAPORE, SEPT 7th, The Esplanade Concert Hall

The programs:

1) Shanghai / Hebei
Mozart Overture Don Giovanni
Haydn Cello Concerto in C Major (Christian Benda)
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in e min. (Min Lee)
Beethoven Symphony No 7

2) Tianjin
Mozart Overture Don Giovanni
Haydn Cello Concerto in C Major
Mozart piano concerto A Maj. KV 488 (Vaclav Mach)
Beethoven Symphony No 7

3) Singapore
Works by Vivaldi - Mozart - Haydn - Mendelssohn - Beethoven

4) Malaysia
Mozart Overture
Mozart Piano Concerto in A KV 488
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
Beethoven Symphony No 7

Schubert CDs

Naxos Worldwide Sites

Complete Schubert Overtures from Prague
The Prague Sinfonia conducted by its Artistic Director, Christian Benda, recorded the complete opera and concert overtures of Schubert. The Prague Sinfonia is an enlarged formation of the Prague Chamber Orchestra.

New York


In Prague will be presented the Prague Sinfonia

The first performance in Prague will be presented on Sunday evening in the church of St. Simon and Juda. The orchestra will play with its conductor and artistic leader Christian Benda.

For the first time the new ensemble was presented on the 28th of October during the celebrations of foundation of Czechoslovakia  the Czech National Day  in New York. The Honorary President of the orchestra is Václav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic who was present during this event.

In the USA were also present Václav Havel and his wife Dagmar. Havel had been invited by the Columbia University on a seven weeks working visit.

The first concert took place at the Bohemian National House in Manhattan.

The whole name of the orchestra using the heritage of the "Velvet Revolution" is Prague Sinfonia of the Velvet Revolution.

Menuhin Festival Gstaad

Orchestra performance, 29.07. 8 p.m. Saanen church

An evening with Mozart

Barbara Hendricks, soprano; Prague Sinfonia; Christian Benda, conducting:
overture of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo”, recitative and aria “Quando avran fine ormai …Padri, germani, addio“ and „Arie se il padre
perdei“; from the opera „Don Giovanni“: overture; recitative and aria “Basta, vincesti...Ah, non lasciarmi” K. 295a; scene and aria „Misera, dove son! – Ah, non son’ io che parlo“ K. 369; symphony in C major, K. 425, "Linzer Sinfonie"