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Jacques Offenbach


(1819 - 1880)



Jacques Offenbach was born on June 20th, 1819 in Cologne.

He was a son of a Cologne synagogue cantor, Jacques and his violinist brother Julius were trained at the Paris Conservatoire.

He thereafter found employment initially as a cellist at the Opera-Comique followed by a successful early career as a virtuoso on the instrument, for which he wrote a number of works.

Including a Concerto militaire and a Concertino.


Offenbach met and performed with Anton Rubinstein and Franz Liszt, and he traveled to London in 1844 to give concerts with Mendelssohn and Joachim.

That same year he married Herminie d'Alcain, following his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism.

Clearly, Offenbach could have chosen to remain primarily a performing artist, but in 1847 he began composing operettas, his first being L'alcove.


He was appointed conductor at the Theatre Francais in 1850, and by 1855, when he resigned that conducting post for another, began attaining regular performances of his works at important theaters like the Bouffes-Parisiens, at Salle Marigny.

In 1874, Offenbach, now director of the Theatre de la Gaite, mounted new versions of some of his earlier successful operettas, like La Perichole, but failed to turn profits.

Eventually he went into bankruptcy.

A concert tour to the United States in 1876 and new productions of his works in London a few years later helped give him financial solvency.

Offenbach continued composing up to his last days.

He was working on his opera, The Tales of Hoffmann, when he died on October 5, 1880.

Most experts are of the opinion that his last work, The Tales of Hoffmann, was his only grand opera.


It is more serious and more ambitious in its musical scope than his other works, perhaps reflecting the eternal wish of the humorist to be taken seriously.

The opera was still unfinished at his death in 1880, but was completed by his friend Ernest Guiraud and premiered in 1881.

Offenbach is buried in the Cimetiere de Montmartre, Paris, France.






  

 

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