Jan Bender  1909-1994

A Church Musician of the 20th Century



by David Fienen

July 2007



Catalog of Compositions







May 12, 1897


Jan BenderŐs parents, Herman Bender (Jun 2, 1870-Aug 18, 1908) and Margarethe Schindler (Feb 23, 1874-Jul 22, 1951) were married in Marienkirche, LŸbeck. The Bender family were piano dealers in Holland. MargaretheŐs father, Paul Friedrich Schindler (May 24,1845-May 16, 1931) was a prominent Marzipan baker in LŸbeck. Margarethe's Mother was Ida Maria Meckwitz (1845-93), Paul's second wife. Her father (Paul Schindler) had bought the house in LŸbeck (Kšnigstra§e 59) in 1876 (it was built in 1295).

Aug 18, 1908


Herman Bender (JanŐs father) died of tuberculosis.

Feb 3, 1909


Jan Bender was born in Haarlem, Holland.

Dec. 27, 1914


Charlotte Peters was born in Heiligenstedten.

Jun, 1922


Bender moved to LŸbeck, Germany with his mother and family. He became page turner and then student of Karl Lichtwark, Marienkirche organist 1888-1929.

March, 1926


Bender was baptized and, on the next day, confirmed, in Marienkirche, LŸbeck.



He completed a four-movement string quartet as his ŇJahresarbeitÓ before graduating from the Oberrealschule zum Dom in LŸbeck.



He became a member of the LŸbecker Sing- und Spielkreis, founded and conducted by Bruno Grusnik. Hugo Distler was an active participant also after 1931.

Nov 26, 1928

Mar 18, 1929

Bender was hospitalized with Ňspinal tuberculosis,Ó (which ultimately proved to be a misdiagnosis).

Jan 21, 1929


He took his Abitur while in the hospital.

Jun, 1929

Mar, 1930

He consulted specialists in Leysin, Switzerland, and was hospitalized again, being essentially confined to bed for several months.

Mar, 1930


After an extended recuperation, he returned to LŸbeck, traveling via Milan and Venice.

Oct 1, 1930

Sep 30, 1933

Bender was a student of Karl Straube at the Kirchenmusikalisches Institut und Landes Konservatorium in Leipzig.

Oct 1, 1933

Mar 31, 1934

He moved to Amsterdam (following the advice of Karl Straube) and studied at the Konservatorium there.

Apr 1, 1934

Sep 30, 1935

Bender finished his studies at the new Staatskonservatorium und Hochschule fŸr Musik in LŸbeck as a student of Hugo Distler. As it turns out, Bender was DistlerŐs only composition student.

Jun 1, 1934

Jan 1, 1937

Organist at St. Gertrudkirche, LŸbeck. His first service was on June 3.

Jul 24, 1934


Jan Bender became a German citizen.

Sep 28, 1935


Bender received his ŇPrŸfung fŸr Organisten und ChorleiterÓ

Jan 1, 1937


Bender was arrested by police and accused of sabotage of the church organ. He was turned over to the Gestapo and jailed in Hamburg, then sent to a concentration camp at Sachsenhausen near Berlin.

Apr 20, 1937


He was released from the concentration camp on HitlerŐs birthday. He returned to LŸbeck, but did not get his church position back.

Oct, 1937

Apr, 1952

Organist at St. Lambertikirche in Aurich. He was also Kirchenmusikdirektor (one of nine in the district of Hanover).

Feb 6, 1939

May 6, 1939

Military training in Oldenburg.

Jun 21, 1939


Jan married Charlotte Peters in Heiligenstedten in Schleswig-Holstein.

Aug 28, 1939


Jan was called to active duty in the German Army. After further training in Oldenburg, he was stationed in Aachen until May 1940.

May 20, 1940


Jan Eilhard Bender (first son) born

Sep 10, 1940

Apr, 1941

After a three-week furlough, Bender was stationed to Ringstedt in Denmark. After additional furloughs in Dec (Ô40) and Feb (41) he was sent via Danzig, Tilsit, Lithuania, and Latvia to the USSR in June, 1941.

Jun 5, 1941


Christoph Bender (second son) born

Aug 17, 1941


On this day, at Luga (about 160 K from St. Petersburg) Bender lost his left eye to shrapnel from a Russian hand-grenade. For his recuperation he was sent first to Wernigerode, in Sept. to Braunschweig, in Oct. to Oldenburg and then to his in-laws in Hanerau.

Nov 10, 1941


Bender returned to Aurich, but had to live in the PastorŐs house until mid-January. He remained a non-commissioned officer in the German Army, but was able to resume his duties at Lambertikirche and as Kirchenmusikdirektor for Ostfriesland.



During this year he began composing his Auricher SingbŸchlein, which would become Opus 1.



Opus 1-20 composed in Europe.

Nov 1, 1942


(Hugo Distler died in Berlin)

Jul 19, 1943


Friedemann Johannes Bender (third son) born.

Sep, 1944

Oct, 1944

Bender was called up again for active duty in the German Army, being sent again to Aachen.

Oct 20, 1944

Aug 14, 1945

The day before Aachen fell to the Allies, Bender surrendered and was held in a POW camps in CompiŽgne until Dec., when he was transferred to a camp at nearby Attichy (both are NE of Paris). During this time he served as assistant to Chaplain Carl Albert Zimmermann (American), playing for services and sweeping out the office. He also was able to practice, study, and continue writing his Auricher SingbŸchlein.

Aug 14, 1945

Sep 14, 1945

Bender was taken from Attichy to Ter Hulpen (near Brussels), discharged on Sept. 4, and finally reached home in Aurich on Sept. 14, 1945. He continued in his positions in Aurich until 1952.

Oct 1, 1947


Matthias Gerhard Gotthilf Bender (fourth son) born.

spring, 1947


First publication, Opus 3 no. 1, appeared in print.

May 1, 1952

Apr 27, 1953

Organist at St. Jacobikirche, Langen, near Frankfurt. He was also a lecturer in composition and piano at the Kirchenmusikschule in Frankfurt/Main.

May 1, 1953

Sep 4, 1960

Cantor and Organist at Michaeliskirche, LŸneburg.

Mar 2, 1954


On this day Bender was commissioned by Pr. Fred Otto to write his St. Mark Passion (opus 11 no. 1) and received an invitation from Concordia Publishing House to become a ŇHouse ComposerÓ.

Apr 1, 1955


Bender became Kirchenmusikdirektor for the Diocese of LŸneburg.

Apr 4, 1956

May 25, 1956

Guest Professor at Valparaiso University, USA, substituting for Heinrich Fleischer. Bender traveled to San Francisco before returning home to LŸneburg.

Jun 29, 1956


Beginning of the Bachfest in LŸneburg, during which more Americans became acquainted with Jan Bender.



Lecturer for Kirchenmusik at the Pedagogische Hochschule in LŸneburg.

Oct 20, 1957


First broadcast of a composition by Jan Bender on the radio--Erich Stoffers, Harburg, played opus 6 # 1.

July 3, 1958

July 20, 1958

Visit to England.

Sep 11, 1958


Bender wrote his first 12-tone composition (opus 31 # 1--Allein Gott)

Summer, 1959


Visiting Professor at University of Denver, USA, having been invited by Daniel Moe. On the way there, he gave an organ concert in London, Ontario, visited Fleischer in Valparaiso. He took Jan Eilhard (eldest son) along on this trip.



Opus 21-64 composed in America

Sep, 1960

May, 1965

Assistant Professor at Concordia Teachers College, Seward, Nebraska, USA.

Jan 21, 1963

Mar 31, 1967

Bender attended at least 9 meetings of the Hymnal Committee, originally developing a new hymnal for the Missouri Synod (which became the Worship Supplement ), and then evolved into the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, which developed the Lutheran Book of Worship.

Sep, 1965

Jun 3, 1976

Professor of Composition at Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, USA. Bender retired in 1975, but continued teaching another year as part-time Professor Emeritus. (NB: Bender played his first service in LŸbeck on June 3, 1934!)

Summer, 1966

Summer, 1972

Adjunct Professor at Schola Cantorum, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, (summers only)



Opus 65-80 composed in Hanerau, Germany.

Aug 8, 1976


Jan Bender retired. He and Charlotte moved to Hanerau-Hademarschen, Germany.

Jan, 1979

May, 1979

Visiting Professor of Music at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, USA for one semester.

Sep, 1979

May, 1981

Composer–in–Residence and Visiting Professor of Music at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN, USA.



Opus 81-85 composed in St. Peter, MN.



Opus 86-114 composed in Hanerau, Germany.

Aug 16, 1981


Bender had a mild heart attack on the beach in Holland.

Jan, 1982

May, 1982

Visiting Professor at Lutheran Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC, USA.

May 29, 1982

Dec, 1994

Bender finally at home for his retirement in Hanerau, but made two additional trips to the US, in Sept., 1982, for the premier of his opus 85 at St. Olaf College, and for an extended stay with Jan Eilhard in Portland, OR, from Dec. 1982-April, 1983.

Dec 29, 1994


Jan Bender died at his home in Hanerau following a short illness. He was buried on Jan. 4, 1995 in the Mannhardt (CharlotteŐs ancestors) family cemetery in the woods behind their retirement home.

Mar. 2, 2002


Charlotte Bender died at home in Hanerau. She was buried on

March 11, 2002 in the Mannhardt family cemetery

in the married womenŐs section across from her husband.


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