William Sterndale Bennett
Born: 13 Apr, 1816
Died: 01 Feb, 1875
Field: Composer
Location in the Abbey: North choir aisle
Type of memorial: Grave

Composer Sir William Sterndale Bennett is buried in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey, not far from the graves of Henry Purcell and Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. The inscription on the white gravestone reads:

"William Sterndale Bennett Musician. Born at Sheffield April 13. 1816 Died in London February 1. 1875"

He was the only son of Robert, organist of Sheffield parish church, and his wife Elizabeth (Donn). After the early death of his parents he was brought up in Cambridge by his grandparents. He studied piano and was a chorister at King's College Cambridge and entered the Royal Academy of Music. His first symphony was completed in 1832 and his piano concerto was performed at Windsor Castle in front of the monarch. Mendelssohn invited him to Germany and he was a friend of Robert Schumann. He became the leading composer of his time. In 1844 he married Mary Anne Wood and they had three children, Charles, James and Elizabeth. He founded the English Bach Society and conducted the first performance in England of St Matthew Passion. He was also professor of music at Cambridge university and conductor of the Philharmonic Society. In 1871 he was knighted.

A photo of his gravestone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

"The life of William Sterndale Bennett" by J.R.Sterndale Bennett, 1907

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

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