Biographie Prague Sinfonia & Christian Benda

Christian Benda
One cannot understand Christian Benda without taking into account this stream of musicians out of which he was born. His biography doesn’t begin with his birth. He really is one element in a continuous chain taking its origin in Bohemia, thus creating a long family of musicians. For centuries, these numerous musicians have travelled throughout Europe, in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, maintaining a unique musical tradition while the notion of nationality was fading out giving place to a premature notion of world citizenship. Christian Benda appears worldwide in music centers such as Paris, Vienna, London, Rome, New York, Hong Kong, Milan, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Singapore, Bucharest, Florence, Zuerich, Shanghai, Sao Paulo.

He is first guest conductor of the Torino Philharmonic and is invited by orchestras like Polish National Opera Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romade, Shanghai Philharmonic, Slovenian Philharmonic, Matav Orchestra Budapest, Slovak Philharmonic, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Cyprus State Orchestra, Bucharest Radio Symphony, Moscow Virtuosi, Belgrade Symphony, Muenster Philharmonic, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre d'Auvergne, Shanghai Broadcast Symphony, Orchestre de Cannes, Orchestra della Toscana, Lviv Philharmonic, Janacek Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Orquestra do Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, Zagreb Philharmonic, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Brno Philharmonic, Prague Symphony Orchestra.

After having collaborated over ten years with the Prague Chamber Orchestra and the common release of several cds, Christian Benda becomes also Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra with Vaclav Havel as President who says: 'I am happy to have around me Christian Benda and his musicians who are developing their art in favor of the humanistic ideas I defend.'

He performs at international festivals including: Schwetzingen, Echternach (Luxemburg), La Roque d’Anthéron (France), Cité de la musique (Paris), Prague Spring, George Enescu Bucharest, Wratislavia Cantans (Poland), Clifden Arts (Ireland), Campos do Jordao (Brazil), Hong Kong Arts, Klangbogen Wien, Styriarte and Steirischer Herbst (Austria), Lugano Festival, Menuhin Festival (Switzerland). A passionate of vocal repertoire, Christian Benda conducts vocalists such as Barbara Hendricks, Cheryl Studer, and Simon Estes. He was invited by the Czech Television to conduct the concerts in honor of President Vaclav Havel with Renee Fleming and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

Among the soloists having performed with Benda we find Lazar Berman, Paul Badura-Skoda, Michel Béroff, Till Fellner, Francois-René Duchable, Mikhail Rudy, Josef Suk, Vladimir Spivakov, Pierre Amoyal, Uto Ughi, Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Bruno Giuranna, Paul Tortelier, Boris Pergamenschikov, Philippe Entremont, Jean-Philippe Collard, Cristina Ortiz, Marc Coppet.

Benda also performs melodramas as well as his own compositions, and collaborates with stage actors and directors of the Vienna Schauspielhaus, Volkstheater, Burgtheater and the Comédie Francaise in Paris such as: Maddalena Crippa, Andrea Jonasson, Hertha Schell, Peter Uray, Brigitte Quadlbauer, Mercedes Echerer, Erika Pluhar, Jean-Luc Bideau, and Francois Rochaix.

Besides Schubert’s complete symphonic overtures with the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra, Benda has recorded symphonic works by Casella and Malipiero, the complete works for piano and orchestra by Frank Martin with Paul Badura-Skoda, Haydn’s violin concertos with Jean-Jacques Kantorow, J.S.Bach's Musical Offering, the Hamburg Symphonies by C.P.E. Bach, Francois Philidor’s overtures as well as recordings by the Benda composers of the 18th century, notably Jiri Antonin Benda's symphonies and melodramas together with the violin and viola concertos by Frantisek and Jan Jiri Benda with Josef Suk as soloist.

As a composer, Christian Benda created the concept of micro-opera, and his compositions were premiered at the Vienna Konzerthaus and at the Prague Smetana Hall with the Prague Symphony Orchestra and filmed by the Czech Television. He regularly performs on the cello Bach's solo suites, Haydn and Dvorak's concertos, Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations, and has recorded the Schumann and Stamitz cello concertos.

He appeared with Vladimir Spivakov, Josef Suk, Norbert Brainin, Paul Badura-Skoda in Brahms' double and Beethoven's triple concertos, and in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante.

Christian Benda received his musical training within his family, like in former days, and studied all elements of music with pianist and composer Sebastian Benda, his father, with whom he played and recorded the cello-piano repertoire. Pierre Fournier was his guide in cello expression and wrote about him: 'His high artistic qualities are in the most absolute sense totally devoted to the service of music. It is a personal privilege to have him as a disciple and my long professional experience can predict for him a career wide open to success. His human qualities equal his great artistic talent and he deserves the recognition of all musicians who will have the privilege of assuring the cooperation of his great talent.'

He invented the 'Christian Benda System', a device which regulates the distance between chest and cello or guitar, giving advantages which are both anatomical and technical.

Prague Sinfonia
The orchestra was born as an expanded version of the Prague Chamber Orchestra during their 16th tour in North America, after having collaborated over 10 years with Christian Benda, chief conductor and artistic director of the Prague Sinfonia.

The musicians enjoy wide international esteem. Their impressive performance has left a distinguished mark on the international concert scene. They have been on sixteen extensive tours in the United States and Canada through Columbia Artists New York, and on six tours to Latin America and Japan. Recently they toured with great acclaim South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. Frequent guest appearances in Europe include festivals such as Salzburg, Bregenz, Berlin, Dresden, Schwetzingen, the Mozartfest in Würzburg, the Rheingau Festival, Konstanz, Athens, Bergen, Besançon, Baalbek, Biarritz, San Sebastian, Santander, Luzern, Montreux, Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Ascona, Dubrovnik, Stresa, Cheltenham.

The Czech audience can hear them in their concert series held in the large hall of the Rudolfinum (Dvorák Hall) and as regular guest at the two major Czech music festivals, the Prague Spring and the Prague Autumn.

They have made many recordings for labels like EMI, Decca, Sony Classics, Naxos, Polydor, Nippon Columbia, Denon, BMG, Telarc, Ariola, Eurodisc, Supraphon, and their extensive discography boasts a number of prestigious prizes such as the Wiener Flötenuhr, twice the Grand Prix du Disque Académie Charles Cros, and, after having sold one million records, the Golden Disc Award.

The musicians have cooperated with conductors such as Václav Neumann, Gerd Albrecht, Sir Charles Mackerras, recording with him Mozart's symphonies. With Christian Benda, a descendant of the composers so much appreciated by J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart, their interpretation has been chosen for the recent "In Search of Mozart" film appeared during the Mozart Year. After having published their first 10 common CDs, they have, with him, a long-term recording project.

Among the soloists with whom they played we find Paul Badura-Skoda, Arturo Benedetti-Michelangeli, Rudolf Buchbinder, Menahim Pressler, Christian Zacharias, Christophe Eschenbach, Friedrich Gulda, Zuzana Ruzicková, Heinz Holliger, Salvatore Accardo, Josef Suk, Maxim Vengerov, Uto Ughi, Barbara Hendricks, Heinrich Schiff, Boris Pergamenschikow, Antonio Meneses, Anthony Pay, Paul Meyer, Guy Touvron, Sergei Nakariakov, or The Beaux Arts Trio.

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