Julius Benedict

(1804 - 1885)
Julius Benedict
Lewis Foreman collection

Benedict studied with Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Carl Maria von Weber (1821-4), and was active as a conductor at Naples before he settled in London in 1835. His main post as conductor there was at the Drury Lane Theatre (1838-48), but he also conducted at Her Majesty’s Theatre and at successive Norwich Festivals (1845-78), where he also presented his own works.

The year 1862 saw the production of his most successful opera, The Lily of Killarney, based on an Irish theme and making use of Irish musical material. Together with Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl (1843) and Wallace’s Maritana (1845) this work constituted the so-called ‘English Ring’ in allusion to Wagner’s Ring of the Niebelung cycle of operas. Of course, this Ring is much more Irish than English, if anything of the two at all.