Heinz Benker (1921-2000)

Heinz Benker

was born on March 13th 1921 in Landshut in Bavaria. At the early age of 7 he started to learn to play the violin and when he was 9 he discovered the beauty of the concert flute. He began to play the piano and the organ when he was 10, the violon cello and the double base (contrabass) were to follow. The first attempts of the 12-year old to compose under the supervision of the cathedral conductor, Franz Geisenhofer, were successful. After passing his final exams at his school in Freising in 1940 , he was compelled to work on the Rhine before he was enlisted in the army and sent to Africa (1941-1948), where he was taken as a prisoner of war. He used this time to organise a and conduct a male voice choir, a prisoner’s symphony orchestra and a jazz band. After his return to Germany in August 1945, he began to study music at the Kirchenmusikschule (College for Religious Music) in Regensburg (1947/48) and affiliated with the University of Music in Munich (1948 – 51) , where he studied School Music and Composing under Wolfgang Jakobi. From 1952 until 1964 Heinz Benker worked as a music teacher in schools in Regensburg and later he was a principle teacher for music in Munich. He was also the honorary president of the Bavarian School Music Association and until 1991 committee member of the Bavarian Music Advisory Association, which he helped to establish. The list of his works contains about 250 spiritual and worldly pieces of music, orchestral music and concerts, chamber music, music for brass and wind instruments, works for piano and organ, songs and stage music. Benker received several prizes for his compositions including the East Bavarian Culture Prize, the “Bundesverdienstkreuz” and was awarded a papal medal.

The existing MARCIA FESTIVA was created in 1997 from an impulse sent out from the Baynov Piano Ensembles. The term “festiva” (festive) is not to be literally taken but with a wink and a smile on the lips. This march shows, with its rhythmic disposition, a distinct relationship to jazz. This melody does not want to be marched! It wants to be danced! The speed can be accelerated according to taste.