20 June 1819 - 5 Oct 1880 (age 61)

German born French 19th century composer known as the 'Father of the Operetta'.
Offenbach is also said to have been called 'the Mozart of the Champs-Elysées' by Rossini.
The operetta eventually evolved into the 20th century musicals.





More French composers

portrait of the composer Offenbach


Born: Jacob Offenbach; 20 June 1819, Cologne, Germany
Father: Isaac Eberst, born in Offenbach-am-Main, bookbinder, publisher, translator, composer, music teacher, cantor. Jewish.
Mother: Marianne Rindskopf, daughter of a lottery promoter and money changer.
Siblings: Seventh child of ten. Julius, a violinist, sister Isabella
Wife: Hérminie D'Alcain, daughter of the Spanish Ambassador. Catholic.
Children: Four daughters
Died: Paris, 4 Oct 1880
Cause of death: stroke
Grave: Cimetiere de Montmartre, Paris see findagrave


Period/style: Romantic - French
Genres: operettas, cello

Output: considerable - over 600 works
Influenced by: Rossini, Mozart, Wagner
Influenced: J.Strauss, Arthur Sullivan
- Operettas: 99 including:
- Orphéus in the Underworld
- La belle Hélène
- Barbe-bleue
- La Vie Parisienne
- La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein
- La Périchole
- Ballets: - 5
- Opera: Tales of Hoffman
- Songs - various
- Cello - various compositions
- Piano - various compositions

Favorite Composers in Art - Offenbach
Portraits, art, caricatures, cartoons, posters, album covers and postage stamps - to the music of the "Can-Can" and "Barcarolle"


- Age 9 - took up the cello. His brother Julius was a talented violinist and his sister a good pianist. They formed a trio which played locally and brought in some much needed money.
- Age 14 - Went to Paris as a cello student in the Paris Conservatoire. Changed his name from Jacob to Jacques.
- Age 15 - Left the Conservatoire due to money problems. Got first job as a cellist at the Opéra Comique. Went on to work as a solo and orchestral cellist. He then moved on to composing, conducting and managing.
- 1838 - age 19 Became one of Europe's leading cellists. Played with various leading musicians such as Anton Rubinstein and Liszt.
- 1844 - age 25 Travelled to London where he performed with Mendelssohn and Joachim and played for Queen Victoria.
Converted to Catholicism and married Herminie d'Alcain, the daughter of the Spanish Ambassador to France.
- 1848 - age 29 Moved briefly back to Germany to avoid the revolutionary violence in France.
- 1850 - age 31 appointed conductor at the Théâtre Français
- 1855 - age 36 opened his own theatre: Bouffes Parisiens
- 1858 - age 39 Very successful launch of 'Orpheus in the Underworld' followed by a string of more hits during the next ten years.
- 1870 - age 51 On outbreak of war between France and Germany he moved to Spain from where he toured Italy and Austria.
On returning to Paris later he found that he had lost popularity.
- 1874 - age 55 Director of Théâtre de la Gaité. Unsuccessful relaunches of earlier operettas. Went bankrupt.
- 1876 - age 57 Concert tour of USA, for the US Centennial Exhibition, including almost 40 concerts in New York and Philadelphia.
- Final years: He continued composing to the end. His final composition is considered his greatest and most serious work: 'Tales of Hoffman'. It was incomplete as a piano score on his death. It was completed and orchestrated by his friend Ernest Guiraud and premiered a year later.
- 1880 - age 61 Died of heart problems.

Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffman

"Can-Can" from Orpheus in the Underworld

Orpheus aux Enfers - finale

La Vie Parisienne - finale
Opera de Lyon

Doll Song - Tales of Hoffman
sung by Sumi Jo

Origin of The Marine's Hymn
The melody of the patriotic 'Marine's Hymn' was taken from one of Offenbach's comic operettas 'Geneviève de Brabant'

Links and where to go for more information

Answers.com Aggregated reference sites including Wikipedia

OEK Offenbach Edition Keck - a project to collate all of his works

DSOkids Dallas Symphony Orchestra site for children

French composers here at 52composers.com

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