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Béni Egressy first encountered the beauty of music through his father, a pastor. After completing his studies at the Reformed College of Sárospatak, he took up teaching but later gravitated toward acting, first appearing with the theatre companies of Kassa (Košice) and Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), and later performing in Buda as well. In 1837, he signed with the Hungarian Theatre of Pest, where he served as a chorus member and as both a dramatic and musical actor. Bent on constantly enriching his knowledge, he pursued more serious studies in music, learned music theory and languages and travelled to Italy for vocal training. He played baritone roles at the National Theatre, and started composing regularly from 1840. He set poems by Petőfi to music, and also proved to be a prolific writer of songs. The greatest musical competition of his career won the competition to set Mihály Vörösmarty's Szózat to music. In addition to translating plays and musical pieces, he also wrote his own librettos, including those used by Ferenc Erkel for his operas Bátori Mária, Hunyadi László and Bánk bán. After fighting in the 1848/49 War of Independence, he resumed his diverse artistic activities at the National Theatre.