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Jacques Offenbach

June 20, 1819 - October 5, 1880
born in Cologne, Germany, composed during the Romantic period
Jacques Offenbach is best known for his opera Les contes d'Hoffman (Tales of Hoffmann) and for a work he did not compose, Gaîté parisienne, which used his themes as assembled and arranged by Manuel Rosenthal. Offenbach was one of those populist figures whose tuneful and exhilarating music could, at its best, elevate his art to classic status. His chief importance was in the development of the operetta as a bona fide genre on the world's stages. In this endeavor he would exert influence to varying degrees over Johann Strauss II, Lehár, Sullivan, and many others.

Offenbach was born Jacob Offenbach in Cologne on June 20, 1819. His first lessons were on violin. At age nine his focus turned to the cello, possibly to become the third member of a family trio: his brother Julius was already proficient on the violin, and his sister Isabella was a good pianist. Together, the three played local engagements for small sums of money. Offenbach's teachers included Joseph Alexander and Bernhard Breuer.

In 1833, Offenbach's father took him to Paris, where he was enrolled at the Conservatory. It was during his early years there that he adopted the French version of his name, "Jacques." After leaving the Conservatory about a year later, Offenbach took further lessons on the cello from Louis Norblin, but, more importantly, studied composition with Halévy. He supported himself during this period by playing in the Opéra-Comique orchestra. By 1838, when he left his orchestral post, he had become one of the finest cellists in Europe and began performing with Flotow, who played the piano. Although he had been composing small pieces since his childhood, Offenbach began writing larger works now, like the score for the comedy, Pascal et Chambord, premiered in 1839.

Over the next several years, 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 Théâtre Français 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.

Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the underworld) was a great success in 1858 and paved the way for his subsequent larger operettas. He had a string of hits in the mid-1860s: La belle Hélène (1864), Barbe-bleue (1866), La vie parisienne (1866), and La Périchole (1868). While his later works also achieved success, they did not generate the level of excitement attained by these.

In 1874, Offenbach, now director of the Théâtre de la Gaité, mounted new versions of some of his earlier successful operettas, like La Périchole, 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 aforementioned Les contes d'Hoffman, when he died on October 5, 1880. The work, existing in piano score only, was orchestrated by Guiraud, who also made a few additions. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Offenbach - Les contes d'Hoffmann / Cluytens

Disc 1
Title: Les Contes D'hoffmann, Opera In 4 Acts
Disc 2
x

Track List: Offenbach - Orphée aux Enfers / Dessay, Naouri, Fouchécourt, Beuron, Podles, Petibon, Smith, Gens, Cole, Minkowski

Disc 1
Title: Orphée Aux Enfers, Operetta
Disc 2
x

Track List: Offenbach: Gaite Parisienne; Orpheus In The Underworld; Voyage To The Moon

Title: Gaîté Parisienne, Ballet (music By Offenbach Arranged By Manuel Rosenthal)
Title: Le Voyage Dans La Lune, Fairy Opera In 4 Acts
Title: Orphée Aux Enfers, Operetta

Comments

Thanks to josefinarodr i g u e z 9 4 that comment,with which I TOTALLY AGREE!!! :-)
I think. I read Spanish way better than I speak it.......... i s that weird =-O??? Weird is OK with me! 4 the MOST part.. ..
I DO LUV ME SOME OFFENBACH!!! Y'all!!! :-D =-O :-D
La Barcarolle es la mas bella, toda la música clásica me gusta pero esta es la numero 1 ,de todos mis hijos solo uno estudio música ,gracias pandora por deleitarnos con estas melodias, perdon por los errores al escribir, pero a duras penas termine la primaria
My favorite version of gave a reason is by the Boston Pops ! This voice texting is not reading my words quite correctly I said gate Parisian ! And upon reading this I say, so much for spelling!
Next to the bartered bride this is probably the greatest classical piece ever composed in my humble yet again always correct opinion follow me and I will lead you to freedom nylons and chocolate bars! Now put the beer in the coconut and drink it all down I said Homer!
Katy Perrys in possibly the greatest classical opus ever composed in my humble get absolutely correct opinion it is a special part of my life and always will be its hard to explain but I just call it Cult Paris
It was Offenbach who composed the Can Can, right?
treymendez
Offenbach's famed Barcarolle from Les contes d'Hoffman is a wonderful lullaby for my 8 month old son. Plus, I end up singing that melody all night (what a great tune to have stuck in your head).
The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is superb!
Offenbach is one of my favorite composers... h i s music is invigorating and motivating. What a way to start the day!
cawalter1
I am one of those listeners and I am thoroughly enjoying my Saturday morning.
Hi,

There are 88 people listening to this composer right now - I wonder if they are as delighted as I am. When I play my Lehar station, I CANNOT turn it off!!

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