William Sterndale Bennett
Sir William Sterndale Bennett (13 April 1816 – 1 February 1875) was an English composer, pianist, conductor and music educator.
At the age of ten Bennett was admitted to the Academy of Music (from 1830 the Royal Academy of Music) in London, where he remained for ten years. By the end of this time, he had begun to make a reputation as a concert pianist, and his compositions received high praise. Among those impressed by Bennett was the German composer Felix Mendelssohn, who invited him to Leipzig, Germany. There Bennett became friendly with Robert Schumann, who shared Mendelssohn's admiration for the Englishman's compositions. Bennett spent three winters composing and performing in Leipzig.
In 1837 Bennett returned to England. He taught at the Royal Academy for twenty years, later also teaching at Queen's College, London. For most of the 1840s and 1850s he composed little, although he performed as a pianist and directed the Philharmonic Society for ten years. In 1858 he returned to composition, but his later works were considered old-fashioned and did not arouse as much enthusiasm as his youthful compositions had done. He was professor of music at the University of Cambridge from 1856 to 1866, and principal of the Royal Academy from 1866 until his death.
Bennett was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, the third child and only son of Robert Bennett, the organist of Sheffield parish church, and his wife Elizabeth, née Donn. In addition to his duties as an organist, Robert Bennett was a conductor, composer and piano teacher; he named his son after the lyricist William Sterndale, with whom he enjoyed a happy collaboration.[n 1] Orphaned at the age of three, Bennett was brought up in Cambridge by his paternal grandfather, John Bennett, from whom he received his first musical education. John Bennett was a professional bass, who sang as a lay clerk in the choirs of King's, St John's and Trinity colleges. The young Bennett had a fine alto voice and entered the choir of King's College chapel in February 1824. In 1826, at the age of ten, he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Music (RAM); the examiners were so impressed by the child's talent that, for the first time in the academy's history, they waived all fees for his tuition and board.
Bennett was a pupil at the academy for the next ten years. At his grandfather's wish his principal instrumental studies were at first as a violinist, under Paolo Spagnoletti and later Antonio James Oury. He also studied the piano under W. H. Holmes, and after five years, with his grandfather's agreement, he took the piano as his principal study. He was a shy youth and was diffident about his skill in composition, which he studied under the principal of the academy, William Crotch, and then Cipriani Potter, who took over as principal in 1832. He did not undertake vocal studies, but when the academy mounted a student production of The Marriage of Figaro in 1830, Bennett, aged fourteen, was cast in the mezzo-soprano role of the page boy Cherubino (usually played by a woman en travesti). This was among the few failures of his career at the academy. The Observer wryly commented, "of the page ... we will not speak", but acknowledged that Bennett sang pleasingly and to the satisfaction of the audience. The Harmonicon, however, called his performance "in every way a blot on the piece".
Among Bennett's student compositions were a piano concerto (No. 1 in D minor, Op. 1), a symphony and an overture to The Tempest. The concerto received its public premiere at an orchestral concert in Cambridge on 28 November 1832, with Bennett as soloist. Performances soon followed in London and, by royal command, at Windsor Castle, where Bennett played in April 1833 for King William IV and Queen Adelaide. A further London performance was given in June 1833. The critic of The Harmonicon wrote of this concert:
[T]he most complete and gratifying performance was that of young Bennett, whose composition would have conferred honour on any established master, and his execution of it was really surprising, not merely for its correctness and brilliancy, but for the feeling he manifested, which, if he proceed as he has begun, must in a few years place him very high in his profession.
Among the audience was Felix Mendelssohn, who was sufficiently impressed to invite Bennett to the Lower Rhenish Music Festival in Düsseldorf. Bennett asked, "May I come to be your pupil?" Mendelssohn replied, "No, no. You must come to be my friend".
In 1834 Bennett was appointed organist of St Ann's, Wandsworth, London, a chapel of ease to Wandsworth parish church. He held the post for a year, after which he taught private students in central London and at schools in Edmonton and Hendon. Although by common consent the academy had little more to teach him after his seventh or eighth year, he was permitted to remain as a free boarder there until 1836, which suited him well, as his income was small.
Mendelssohn and Germany
In May 1836 Bennett travelled to Düsseldorf to attend the Lower Rhenish Music Festival for the first performance of Mendelssohn's oratorio St Paul. While there, Bennett began work on what Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians considers his most popular orchestral composition, the overture The Naiades. After Bennett left for home, Mendelssohn wrote to their mutual friend, the English organist and composer Thomas Attwood, "I think him the most promising young musician I know, not only in your country but also here, and I am convinced if he does not become a very great musician, it is not God's will, but his own".
After Bennett's first visit to Germany there followed three extended visits to work in Leipzig. He was there from October 1836 to June 1837, during which time he was soloist in his Third Piano Concerto and conductor of his Naiades Overture. On his return to London he took up a teaching post at the RAM which he held until 1858. During his second long stay in Germany, from October 1838 to March 1839, he played his Fourth Piano Concerto and the Woodnymph Overture. During his third visit, from January to March 1843, during which he also visited Kassel, Dresden and Berlin, he played his Caprice for piano and Orchestra in Leipzig.
At Leipzig Bennett became a close friend of Robert Schumann, at that time better known as a critic than as a composer. Bennett was at first slightly in awe of Mendelssohn, but no such formality ever attached to Bennett's friendship with Schumann, with whom he went on long country walks by day and visited the local taverns by night. Each dedicated a large-scale piano work to the other: in August 1837 Schumann dedicated his Symphonic Studies to Bennett, who reciprocated a few weeks later with his Fantasie, Op. 16, dedicated to Schumann. Schumann was eloquently enthusiastic about Bennett's music; Bennett, although personally devoted to Schumann, had from the outset reservations about his friend's music, which he thought "rather too eccentric".
Performer and teacher
Bennett returned to London in 1843 and the following year he married Mary Anne Wood (1824–1862), the daughter of Commander James Wood RN. Composition gave way to a ceaseless round of teaching and musical administration. Henry Hadow wrote in 1907, "For nearly twenty years after his return to England he wrote nothing but a few songs, a few anthems, a few pianoforte pieces; the mere episode, it would seem, of a life mainly devoted to teaching, to editing, and to the routine of administrative duties." Clara Schumann thought Bennett spent too much time giving private lessons: "His only chance of learning new music is in the carriage on the way from one lesson to another."
From 1842 Bennett had been a director of the Philharmonic Society of London. He helped to relieve the society's perilous finances by persuading Mendelssohn and Spohr to perform with the society's orchestra, attracting full houses and much-needed income. In 1842 the orchestra, under the composer's baton, gave the London premiere of Mendelssohn's Third Symphony, then known as The Scotch (now The Scottish), two months after its world premiere in Leipzig. In 1844 Mendelssohn conducted the last six concerts of the society's season, in which among his own works and those of many others he included music by Bennett.
In 1843 the post of professor of music at Edinburgh University became vacant. With Mendelssohn's strong encouragement Bennett applied for the position. Mendelssohn wrote to the principal of the university, "I beg you to use your powerful influence on behalf of that candidate whom I consider in every respect worthy of the place, a true ornament to his art and his country, and indeed one of the best and most highly gifted musicians now living: Mr. Sterndale Bennett." Despite this advocacy Bennett's application was unsuccessful.
In May 1848, on the opening of Queen's College, London, Bennett, as one of the Founding Directors, delivered an inaugural lecture and joined the staff, while continuing his work at the RAM and private teaching. Bennett's biographer Rosemary Firman notes that he composed Preludes and Lessons for his students at the college. This series of short technical studies in all the major and minor keys was published in 1853 and remained in widespread use by music students well into the twentieth century. In a profile of Bennett published in 1903 F. G. Edwards wrote:
The life of a pianoforte teacher so much in request as Bennett left him little time for composition. Wearied by the daily round of lesson-giving, he would feel little inclination to court his creative muse except perhaps at holiday times, and then he was probably glad to get away from music. But he must have kept up his pianoforte playing, as in addition to his annual orchestral concerts, at which he played one or more concertos, he gave year after year a series of "Classical Chamber Concerts" and "Performances of Classical Pianoforte Music." A large number of the programmes of these highly artistic music-makings, covering a period of twelve years, now before us, show Bennett's refined and eclectic taste. For instance, Bach's clavier concertos, violin sonatas, and selections from the "48", then almost novelties, and other lesser-known works of the great masters were conscientiously set before the favoured listeners in the Hanover Square Rooms. The pianist's lovely touch added a special charm to his poetic intuitiveness, and vocal music of a high order – e. g., the Liederkreis of Beethoven – gave variety and interest to these very enjoyable afternoons of music.
As well as the demands of his work as a teacher and pianist, there were other factors that may have contributed to Bennett's long withdrawal from large-scale composition. He found the death of Mendelssohn in 1847 a terrible personal blow. Stanford wrote that it came to Bennett as "an irreparable loss", and the following year Bennett severed his hitherto close ties with the Philharmonic Society, which had presented many of his most successful compositions. This severance resulted from a minor disagreement with the society's conductor, Michael Costa, which the intransigence of both parties inflated into a furious row. Bennett was disgusted at the society's failure to back him up, and resigned. A further disincentive to Bennett may have been the persistent refusal of many British music lovers and several leading critics to acknowledge the possibility that an English composer could be of the same stature as a German one. The Leipzig public had initially held that view, but was rapidly won round.[n 2] In a 1907 biography of Bennett, his son juxtaposes English and German reviews of an overture by Bennett. William Ayrton, a London critic, wrote:
…a discharge of musical artillery in the shape of drums, seconded by blasts of trombones and trumpets that seemed to realise all that we have heard of a tropical tornado. … So very clever and promising a young man ought to meet with every kind of reasonable encouragement, but judicious and true friends would have hinted to him that his present production is the dry result of labour.
Schumann, by contrast, wrote:
The overture is charming; indeed, save Spohr and Mendelssohn, what other living composer is so completely master of his pencil, or bestows with it such tenderness and grace of colour, as Bennett? In the completeness of the whole, we forgive and forget all that he has overheard of those masters' tones, and I think he never before gave us so much of himself as in this work. Essay measure after measure; what a firm, yet delicate web it is from beginning to end!
Conductor and professor
In 1849 Bennett became the founding president of the Bach Society. Under his direction the society gave the first English performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion on 6 April 1854. In 1853 he declined an invitation to become the conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He was greatly tempted by the offer, but though he said it was his fondest wish to accept, he felt it his duty to remain in England. The offer came too late for Bennett to make alternative arrangements for some of his pupils, and he refused to let them down. In 1855 Costa resigned the conductorship of the Philharmonic Society's orchestra, and was succeeded by Richard Wagner, who was not a success in the post and resigned after a year. Bennett was elected to take over the conductorship. At his first concert, on 14 April 1856, the piano soloist in the Emperor Concerto was Clara Schumann, wife of his old friend. It was her first appearance in England; her husband was not able to be present. By that time Schumann himself was in the last phase of a mental illness, and confined to a sanatorium in Germany.
In March 1856 Bennett was elected professor of music at the University of Cambridge, while he was still teaching at the RAM and Queen's College. He modernised the system of awarding music degrees, instituting viva voce examinations and requiring candidates for doctorates to hold the degree of bachelor of music. He held the professorship for ten years, relinquishing it in 1866 when he was appointed principal of the RAM.
Towards the end of 1862 Bennett's wife died after a painful illness. His biographer W. B. Squire wrote, "It is said by those who knew him well that he never recovered from the effects of Mrs. Bennett's death, and that henceforward a painful change in him became apparent to his friends."
Principal of Royal Academy of Music
In 1866 Charles Lucas, the principal of the academy, announced his retirement. The position was first offered to Costa, who demanded a higher salary than the directors of the academy could contemplate, and then to Otto Goldschmidt, who was then professor of piano at the academy. He declined and urged the directors to appoint Bennett. Goldschmidt's wife, the singer Jenny Lind wrote that Bennett "is certainly the only man in England who ought to raise that institution from its present decay".
Bennett's earlier appointments with the Philharmonic Society and the university had obliged him to give up his career as a soloist, and at the academy he found that heading a leading music college was incompatible with a career as a full-time composer. Other composers, such as Sullivan, Parry, and Fauré, later found the same, but Bennett was particularly strongly affected as he had not only to run the academy but to save it from imminent dissolution. The post of principal was traditionally not arduous. He was contractually required to attend for only six hours a week, teaching composition and arranging class-lists. However, Bennett took over at a time of crisis, and the demands of the post became considerable. The academy that he inherited in 1866 was in poor shape, both financially and artistically. The music writer H. F. Chorley published data in that year showing that only 17 per cent of orchestral players in Britain had studied there. No alumni of the academy were members of the best London orchestra, at Covent Garden. Chorley added, "I cannot remember one great instrumental player the Academy has turned out during the last 25 years."
The academy had been temporarily saved from bankruptcy and dissolution by grants from the government, authorised by Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1864 and 1865. The following year Gladstone was out of office, and the new Chancellor, Disraeli, refused to renew the grant. The directors of the academy decided to close it. Bennett, with the support of the faculty and the students, assumed the chairmanship of the board of directors. In Stanford's words, "As Chairman he succeeded, after the Government had withdrawn its annual grant, in winning it back, restored the financial credit of the house, and during seven years bore the harassing anxiety of complex negotiations with various public bodies of great influence who were discussing schemes for the advance of national musical education."
Among Bennett's pupils at the academy and elsewhere were Sullivan, Hubert Parry, Joseph Parry, Francis Edward Bache, Alice Mary Smith, W. S. Rockstro, Tobias Matthay and William Cusins. Under Bennett the academy was musically conservative. Sullivan said that Bennett was "bitterly prejudiced against the new school, as he called it. He would not have a note of Schumann; and as for Wagner, he was outside the pale of criticism. Cipriani Potter was converted, and became a blind worshipper of Schumann, but all my efforts with Sterndale Bennett were ineffectual".[n 3]
In the late 1850s Bennett returned to composition. Works from his later years included a Piano Cello Duo dedicated to Alfredo Piatti; a pastoral, The May Queen for the opening of the Leeds Town Hall in 1858; an Ode with words by Alfred, Lord Tennyson for the opening of the International Exhibition of 1862 in London; a Symphony in G minor, a sacred cantata,The Woman of Samaria for the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival of 1867; and finally a second Piano Sonata  Hadow wrote of Bennett's later works, "It was not until 1858 that he produced a work of larger proportions, and when The May Queen appeared the idiom of music had changed and he had not changed with it. … He was too conservative to move with the times. … So it was to the end of his life. The G minor symphony, the Woman of Samaria, the Maid of Orleans sonata might all have been written in the forties; they are survivals of an earlier method, not developments but restatements of a tradition."
The musicologist Nicholas Temperley writes:
After 1855 he was spurred by belated honours, and occasional commissions, to compose a respectable number of significant and substantial works, though it was too late to recapture his early self-confidence. One might guess that the early loss of both parents produced in Bennett an exceptionally intense need for reassurance and encouragement. England could not provide this for a native composer in his time. He found it temporarily in German musical circles; yet, when the opportunity came to claim his earned place as a leader in German music, he was not quite bold enough to grasp it.
In his last years Bennett spent the summer holidays at the coastal resort of Eastbourne, where he composed most of his later works. He continued to teach in London, and gave concerts there and elsewhere from time to time. He died aged 58 in 1875 at his house in St John's Wood, London, and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Publications, honours and memorials
Bennett edited some of the piano works of Beethoven and Handel and co-edited the Chorale Book for England with Otto Goldschmidt. He published editions of the St Matthew Passion [n 4] and Handel's Acis and Galatea. He lectured not only at Cambridge but also at the London Institute; texts of his lectures were edited and published in 2006.
Bennett received honorary degrees from the universities of Cambridge (1867) and Oxford (1870). The Philharmonic Society awarded him its Beethoven gold medal in 1867. In 1871 he was knighted, and in 1872 he received a public testimonial before a large audience at St James's Hall, London. He gave the money subscribed to found a scholarship and prize at the RAM, which is still awarded. There is an English Heritage blue plaque at his home in 38 Queensborough Terrace, London.
Bennett left a substantial music library. As at 2014 the custodian is his great-great-grandson Barry Sterndale Bennett (b. 1939) in collaboration with the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. The library continues to be available for research purposes.
Bennett's son James Robert Sterndale Bennett (1847–1928) wrote a biography of his father. Many of the composer's descendants became musicians or performers, including his grandsons Robert (1880–1963), director of music at Uppingham School, Rutland; Tom (T.C.) (1882–1944), composer and singer, whose daughter Joan Sterndale-Bennett (1914–1996) was a well known West End actress; and Ernest Sterndale Bennett (1884–1982), a theatre director in Canada.
Temperley writes that Bennett is the most distinguished composer of the early Victorian era, "the only plausible rivals being Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–76) and Michael William Balfe (1808–70)". Despite his reverence for Mendelssohn, Bennett took Mozart as his model. Hadow asserted that Bennett was incapable of "vehemence and passion", but the composer Geoffrey Bush writes "His best work, like his piano playing, was full of passion none the less powerful for being Mozartian (that is to say, perfectly controlled)." His early biographer W. B. Squire wrote in 1885:
His sense of form was so strong, and his refined nature so abhorred any mere seeking after effect, that his music sometimes gives the impression of being produced under restraint. He seldom, if ever, gave rein to his unbridled fancy; everything is justly proportioned, clearly defined, and kept within the limits which the conscientiousness of his self-criticism would not let him overstep. It is this which makes him, as has been said, so peculiarly a musician's composer: the broad effects and bold contrasts which an uneducated public admires are absent; it takes an educated audience to appreciate to the full the exquisitely refined and delicate nature of his genius.
Firman writes that Bennett's finest works are those for the piano: "Rejecting the superficial virtuosity of many of his contemporaries, he developed a style … peculiarly his own, essentially classical in nature, but with reference to a multiplicity of influences from his own performance repertory." Much of his finest piano music is extremely difficult to play, and in Firman's view many of his most interesting solo piano works were overshadowed by "less demanding and more popular works". Examples of the former are the Sonata Op 13, the Fantasia Op 16, and the Suite de pièces Op 24 (1841); among the latter Firman lists the Three Musical Sketches, Op 10, the Rondo piacevole, Op 25 (1842), and Genevieve (1839).
Of a total of some 130 compositions, about a quarter have been recorded for CD; among the most popular are the overture The Naiades, Op 15, the Chamber Trio Op 26, and the Piano Concerto No. 4, Op 19.
Notes and references
- Bennett always treated the name "Sterndale" as a given name rather than part of his surname; after he was knighted he was known as "Sir Sterndale Bennett". "Sterndale" was adopted into a double-barrelled surname by his descendants.
- Mendelssohn wrote that no-one but a true genius could have overcome the German prejudice in that regard.
- Sullivan exaggerated in stating that Bennett completely rejected Schumann's music. At a Philharmonic Society concert in 1856 Bennett conducted the English premiere of Schumann's cantata Paradise and the Peri, with Jenny Lind as soloist. Bennett's son records in his biography that his father frequently performed Schumann's Symphonic Studies and conducted the Second Symphony at a Philharmonic Society concert in 1864. The Times was unenthusiastic about the work, but allowed that "Professor Bennett took infinite pains with the symphony; it was magnificently played and favourably received."
- Bennett supervised the first English edition of the piece. The vocal score (with pianoforte) was adapted from the German edition of A. B. Marks (Berlin 1830), revised with reference to the full score published by the Leipzig Bach Society. (Separate choral parts were published.) Bennett's additional tempo and dynamic markings were shown in parentheses for distinction. He harmonised the figured bass both in the solo music (based on the Leipzig full score) and elsewhere.
- Firman, Rosemary. "Bennett, Sir William Sterndale (1816–1875)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online edition, ed. Lawrence Goldman, Oxford: Oxford University Press, accessed 10 May 2012 (subscription required)
- "Sir Sterndale Bennett", The Times, 2 February 1875, p. 9
- Temperley, Nicholas and Rosemary Williamson. "Bennett, Sir William Sterndale", Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, accessed 10 May 2012 (subscription required)
- Bennett, p. 6
- Bennett, p. 18
- Edwards, Frederick George. '"William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875)", Part 1 of 3, The Musical Times, Vol. 44, No. 723 (May 1903), pp. 306–309 (subscription required)
- Bennett, p. 14
- Bennett, p. 15
- Bennett, p. 21
- Bennett, p. 27
- "The Royal Academy of Music", The Observer, 12 December 1830, p. 2
- Bennett, pp. 27–28
- Bennett, pp. 28–29
- Bennett, p. 35
- Bennett, p. 36
- Bennett, p. 38
- Temperley, Nicholas. Schumann and Sterndale Bennett", 19th-Century Music, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Spring 1989), pp. 207–220 (subscription required)
- Stanford, Charles Villiers. "William Sterndale Bennett: 1816–1875", The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 4 (October 1916), pp. 628–657 (subscription required)
- Preston, Richard. "The Southampton connections of William Sterndale Bennett", Southampton Occasional Papers, Southampton City Council, March 2011, accessed 2 June 2012
- Hadow, Henry. "Sterndale Bennett", The Times Literary Supplement, 9 January 1908, p. 13
- Schumann, p. 132
- Bennett, p. 162
- "The Philharmonic Society", The Times, 13 June 1842, p. 5
- "Philharmonic Society", The Times, 11 June 1844, p. 5
- "Mendelssohn, Sterndale Bennett and the Reid Professorship: An Unpublished Letter", The Musical Times, Vol. 84, No. 1209 (November 1943), p. 351 (subscription required)
- Edwards, Frederick George. "William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875)", Part 2 of 3, The Musical Times, Vol. 44, No. 724 (June 1903), pp. 379–381 (subscription required)
- Bennett, p. 154
- Bennett, pp. 87–88
- Squire, W. B. "Bennett, Sir William Sterndale", Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 15 May 2012 (subscription required)
- Bennett, p. 350
- Bennett, p. 354
- Wright, David. "The South Kensington Music Schools and the Development of the British Conservatoire in the Late Nineteenth Century", Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Oxford University Press, Vol. 130 No. 2, pp. 236–282
- Legge, Robin H. "Charles Hubert Hastings Parry", The Musical Times, 1 November 1918, pp. 489-491 (subscription required)
- Jones, p. 110
- Bennett, pp. 369–370
- Jacobs, Arthur. "Sullivan, Sir Arthur, Dibble, Jeremy. "Parry, Sir Hubert", Crossley-Holland, Peter and Nicholas Temperley. "Parry, Joseph", Williamson, Rosemary. "Smith, Alice Mary", Dawes, Frank. "Matthay, Tobias", Williamson, Rosemary. "Rockstro, W.S.", Mackerness, E D. " Cusins, Sir William", Temperley Nicholas. "Bache, Francis Edward", Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, accessed 5 March 2015 (subscription required)
- Findon, p. 19
- "Philharmonic Concerts", The Times, 24 June 1856, p. 12
- Bennett, pp. 342–343
- "Philharmonic Concerts", The Times, 31 May 1864, p. 14
- Edwards, Frederick George. '"William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875)", Part 3 of 3, The Musical Times, Vol. 44, No. 726 (August 1903), pp. 523–527 (subscription required)
- Bach and Bennett,"Author's Preface"
- Temperley, passim
- "Sterndale Bennett Prize", Royal Academy of Music, accessed 5 March 2015
- "Sir William Sterndale Bennett 1816-1875", Open Plaques, accessed 15 May 2012
- Williamson, introduction, p. x
- Bennett, passim
- "Mr. R. Sterndale Bennett", The Times, 31 August 1963, p. 8
- "Joan Sterndale Bennett – Obituary", The Times, 30 April 1996
- "Sterndale Bennett, Ernest Gaskill", Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia, accessed 15 May 2012
- Temperley, p. 3
- Temperley, p. 22
- Bush, Geoffrey. "Sterndale Bennett and the Orchestra", The Musical Times, Vol. 127, No. 1719 (June 1986), pp. 322–324 (subscription required)
- Bach, J S; William Sterndale Bennett (1862). Grosse Passions-Musik. Helen Johnston (trans). London: Lamborne Cock, Hutchings. OCLC 181892334.
- Bennett, J R Sterndale (1907). The Life of William Sterndale Bennett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. OCLC 63021710.
- Findon, B W (1904). Sir Arthur Sullivan – His Life and Music. London: J Nisbot. OCLC 669931942.
- Jones, J Barrie (1989). Gabriel Fauré – A Life in Letters. London: B T Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-5468-0.
- Schumann, Clara (2013) . Berthold Litzmann, ed. Clara Schumann – An Artist's Life, Based on Material Found in Diaries and Letters – Volume 2. Grace Hadow (trans). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-06415-6.
- Temperley, Nicholas (ed) (2006). Lectures on Musical Life – William Sterndale Bennett. Woodbridge: Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1-84383-272-0.
- Williamson, Rosemary (1996). Sterndale Bennett – A Descriptive Thematic Catalogue. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-816438-8.
- Sterndale Bennett
- Free scores by William Sterndale Bennett at the International Music Score Library Project
- William Sterndale Bennett Piano Sextet Op.8 Soundbites and discussion of work
- Selected pieces for pianoforte (From the Sibley Music Library Digital Score Collection)
- Free scores by William Sterndale Bennett in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)