Sir William Sternuale Bennett, an English composer, born in Sheffield, April 13, 1816. He is the son of Mr. Robert Bennett, for many years organist of the parish church at Sheffield. At the age of eight he was entered as chorister at King's college, Cambridge, where his maternal grandfather, James Donn, was curator of the royal botanical garden, and two years later commenced his musical studies at the royal academy of music. He at first chose the violin as his instrument, but soon abandoned it for the piano. His studies in composition were begun early under the direction of Dr. Crotch; and while still at the academy his first symphony, in E flat, was produced, and this was speedily followed by his pianoforte concertos. At the academy his master in pianoforte instruction was Cipriani Potter, but after leaving it he became the pupil of Moscheles. In London he met Mendelssohn, to whom he became ardently attached, and whose influence upon his method of composition is very marked. Under Mendelssohn's advice he determined to continue his musical studies in Germany, where he could have the benefit of the counsel and instruction of that celebrated composer; and the years 1836-'8 were passed at Leipsic. At the Gewandhaus concerts in that city his overture to the Naiades, his concerto in C minor, and other works were performed under the personal direction of Mendelssohn. Returning to London, Bennett commenced his career as musical instructor, director of concerts, and composer.
In 1856 he was appointed professor of music at the university of Cambridge, and received the degree of Mus. Doc. the same year. In 1869 he received the degree of M. A., and in 1870 he was created D. C. L. of the university of Oxford. From 1856 to 1868 he conducted the philharmonic concerts, and in the latter year was made principal of the royal academy of music. In 1871 the honor of knighthood was conferred upon him. The principal works of this composer are his operas, "The Wood Nymphs " and " Parisina;" his cantatas, "The May Queen " and "The Woman of Samaria;" and several concertos for piano and orchestra. He has composed many minor works for the pianoforte in connection with stringed instruments, and for that instrument alone; also a number of songs; and he has written a treatise on harmony, and one entitled " Classical Practice for Pianoforte Students."