A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Benelli, Antonio

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BENELLI, Antonio Peregrino, born Sept. 5, 1771, at Forli. It is doubtful whether, as is said, he received instruction in counterpoint from Padre Martini, who died when Benelli was little more than 12, and was unable, for above two years before his death, to bestow much care upon his scholars. Benelli had, however, the instruction of Padre Mattel, the successor of Martini.

In 1790 he made his first appearance at the San Carlo, at Naples, as first tenor. His voice was of moderate quality; but his method was admirable, and obtained for him a succés d'estime. Benelli accepted an engagement at London in 1798, where he was received with favour. In 1801 he repaired to Dresden, and remained until the year 1822, at which time, when 51, and after singing in public for 32 years, his voice failed, and he retired with a pension.

Benelli had also made himself known as a clever composer, particularly in the Church style; but his best works are his excellent 'Method,' and his 'Solfeggi' which ran through several editions. He was a successful contributor to the 'Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung' of Leipzig. Upon his retirement, he obtained from Spontini the post of professor of singing at the Berlin Opera, which he filled till 1829. He might have remained much longer, had he not attacked Spontini with violence, in 1828, in the 'Allgemeine Zeitung,' à propos to his opera of 'Olimpia.' Unfortunately he had previously written a very favourable review of the same work: Spontini printed the two accounts side by side. Benelli had nothing to reply; he soon received his congé and departed, first to Dresden, where he still had his pension, then to Börnichen in the Hartz, where he died in poverty August 6, 1830. Benelli's real title to estimation is founded on his 'Gesanglehre' (1819), which appeared first in Italian, as 'Regole per il canto figurato,' and on his 'Bemerkungen über die Stimme,' in the A.M.Z. Leipzig, (1824).

[ J. M. ]