François Benda

François Benda Professor, Clarinet

Born in Brazil, François Benda comes from a long line of professional musicians. He completed his studies in Graz and Geneva (clarinet, composition, conducting) and gave his solo debut in 1988 at Zurich’s Tonhalle and at the Victoria Hall in Geneva. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) published the following review: “His playing moved with authority between just barely perceptible pianissimi and dramatic, nearly ecstatic crescendi and was brilliant at every moment.”

In 1991 François Benda was awarded the Premio internationale per le Arti dello Spettaccolo in Rome.

Today François Benda performs at all the important music venues (Berlin’s Philharmonie, the Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Wigmore Hall London, the Tonhalle in Zurich) and appears as clarinet soloist with many leading orchestras (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne’s WDR Sinfonieorchester, Sinfonieorchester Basel, and the Vienna Chamber Philharmonic).

François Benda is a highly sought-after performing artist both as a soloist and chamber music partner and regularly appears as a guest artist at music festivals such as the Berliner Festwochen, Styriarte, Musicades Lyon, and the Pentecost Concerts in Ittingen, Switzerland. He performs in chamber concert recitals with Heinz Holliger, Paul Badura- Skoda, Bruno Giuranna, Isabelle Faust, Josef Silverstein, and Bruno Canino.

His comprehensive discography (for Labels like ECM, Fono, Pantheon, EPU, Hänssler, and Genuin) includes the complete work for clarinet by Johannes Brahms and works for Clarinet and Orchestra by Nielsen, Debussy, Busoni, and Rossini. François Benda’s intensive study of recent instrument-making developments led to the founding of the Clarinartis company in collaboration with instrument makers René Hagmann and Jochen Seggelke. Clarinartis develops clarinet parts such as barrel joints and bells in order to optimize tonal production and intonation.

François Benda is able to move easily between classical concert repertory and contemporary music both as a clarinetist (important composers, including Georg F. Haas, Wolfgang von Schweinitz, and Bernhard Lang, have dedicated works to him for which he has given the premiere performances) as well as with an increasing number of appearances as conductor. In addition to his solo career, François Benda is also professor at the Universität der Künste in Berlin and teaches at the Hochschule für Musik in Basel.

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