Franz Bendel was a son of an elementary school teacher. After the first instruction from his father, he became a student of Josef Proksch. Through his teacher, who encouraged him very much, Bendel later went to Franz Liszt in Weimar, where he also met Wendelin Weißheimer. In 1848, Count Otto von Westphal hired Bendel as a house and music teacher. He held this office for 14 years. Bendel had already emerged a composer by 1885 when Proksch performed a mass by him in Prague. In 1862 Bendel settled in Berlin and became a lecturer at the Neue Akademie der Tonkunst. He lived and worked there until his death, only interrupted by several small concert tours, such as Prague in 1863, which were praised in the press. In 1866, he also worked at Carl Tausig’s Schule des höheren Klavierspiels for some time. As a performer as well as a creative artist, Bendel pursued the direction of the serious and solid, and his numerous trips accompanied by the best success were unable to detract from the ideality of his pursuit. He was even able to participate as a concert pianist at Patrick Gilmore’s National Peace Jubilee in Boston in 1872. Bendel was under an engagement with the Steinways for a series of eighty concerts in 1874, but typhoid fever caused his death after four days illness in July, 1873. His grave monument is located in Berlin-Mitte, Oranienburg. First French Cemetery.
After his death, Bendel’s music lost much of their deserved recognition, coming as they did at a time when Wagner was revolutionizing. One of Bendel’s publishers, Augener & Co., based in London, and their journal, The Monthly Musical Record, continually reviewed his music after Bendel’s passing. In regard to his death, the journal stated, “much to be regretted, and will be regretted more and more, for the qualities of his compositions are becoming increasingly rare in pianoforte music.” Some of Bendel's notable students were Silas Pratt, Edward Morris Bowman, and Max Schwarz.
Bendel was most active as a composer. Of his compositions, including four masses, symphonies, a piano concerto, and a piano trio; the salon-style piano works and numerous songs have found widespread use. The number of his compositions for the piano is over one hundred. The most admired are the Fantasias on a theme from Gounod's “Faust and Margaret,” Meyerbeer's “Afrikanerin,” and the Bohemian National songs. In Bendel's tone poems, Franz Liszt's predilection for symphonic treatment also comes to the fore. The powerful way of performing as a piano virtuoso had also become his own. Bendel's teaching under Proksch kept a remnant of inclination for seriousness and solidity in his composition. Similar to the nocturnes of John Field, Bendel wrote many Stimmungsbilder. His preference for mountain trips were expressed with a series of these type of pieces, with examples from Schweizer Bilder, Op. 137 and books Am Genfer See Op. 139. Some of these pieces were accompanied with a brief explanation of the content. When describing these pieces, C.F. Weitzman says, “Bendel portrays the impressions of his journeyings in the fresh air of the valleys and heights of Switzerland; and in the “Sechs deutsche Märchenbilder”, illustrated with more striking colors, the dream-like, weird, and bizarre scenes of these Fantasiestücke pass before our inner vision with dramatic animation.” For a span of time, The Monthly Musical Record reviewed Bendel's works, giving description of his different approaches to his own style. The journal introduced his Rococo-Tanz with this quote: “Now, Franz Bendel did not simulate qualities he did not possess; but, on the contrary, cheerfully applied himself to the cultivation of the gifts he had been endowed with, which, moreover, were worth at least as much as many gifts of a prouder and more pretentious nature. What we find in his works is elegance, grace, ease, and charm in thought, feeling, and expression, and along with this an always effective pianoforte language.”
2 Barcarollen, Op. 5
Il Baccio, Celebre Valze d'Artini, Transcription de Concert, Op. 7