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Violinists give Royal Strings founder Benteler a musical tribute
By Eileen O. Daday | Daily Herald correspondent

Royal Strings musicians, including Carl Linden of Munster, Ind., left, play during Franz Benteler's wake Wednesday evening in Arlington Heights.


Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/18/2010 12:00 AM

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During his more than 40 years as a musician, Franz Benteler made a name for himself not only as a violinist, but also as a strolling violinist.

The Royal Strings Orchestra, which he founded, headlined the Consort Room at the Continental Plaza in Chicago, where dressed in white tails and distinctive red sashes, they made dramatic entrances before weaving through the crowd, playing as they strolled.

Benteler performed much the same program at weddings, fundraisers and other banquets across Chicago and the suburbs that people remembered long after the event. Since his death on Friday at 84, fans of Benteler's began to share some of those memories in the online guest book and on a Facebook page.

His music colleagues took it one step further and organized a musical tribute during his visitation on Wednesday at Glueckert Funeral Home in Arlington Heights.

While mourners came to pay their respects, violinists who had played with Benteler performed some of the light classical music and show tunes that he had loved and played by ear.

Included in their tribute was the song Benteler always played to end his shows, "Edelweiss."

"I can't remember ever having anything like this before," said funeral director John Glueckert. "You can hear the violins through the whole building."

Jennifer Silk of Elgin helped organize the musical tribute, and she described Benteler as her mentor during her more than 15 years playing with the Royal Strings.

"I had this feeling playing next to him, that not only was it history, but I was playing next to greatness," Silk said.

She and some of the same violinists will play at his funeral at 10 a.m. today at St. James Catholic Church, 831 N. Arlington Heights Road, in Arlington Heights.