Offenbach, Jacques


Offenbach, Jacques
orig. Jacob Offenbach

born June 20, 1819, Cologne
died Oct. 5, 1880, Paris, France

German-born French composer.

Son of a cantor, he studied at the Paris Conservatoire but had to leave for lack of funds. He first wrote theatre music as conductor of the Théâtre-Français (from 1850); in 1855 he opened his own theatre, Bouffes-Parisiens, for which he wrote many celebrated one-act works. He began writing longer operettas and had a string of hits, including Orpheus in the Underworld (1858), La Belle Hélène (1864), La Vie Parisienne (1866), and The Grand Duchess of Gérolstein (1867). Offenbach is credited with writing in a fluent, elegant style and with a highly developed sense of both characterization and satire. He spent his last three years on his only grand opera, The Tales of Hoffmann, which remained unfinished at his death and was first produced in 1881.

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▪ French composer
original name  Jacob Offenbach  
born June 20, 1819, Cologne
died Oct. 5, 1880, Paris

      composer who created a type of light burlesque French comic opera known as the opérette (operetta), which became one of the most characteristic artistic products of the period.

      He was the son of a cantor at the Cologne Synagogue, Isaac Juda Eberst, who had been born at Offenbach am Main. The father was known as “Der Offenbacher,” and the composer was known only by his assumed name, Offenbach. Attracted by the more tolerant attitude in Paris to the Jews, Offenbach's father took him there in his youth, and in 1833 he was enrolled as a cello student at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1844, having been converted to Catholicism, he married Herminie d'Alcain, the daughter of a Spanish Carlist. In 1849, after playing the cello in the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique, he became conductor at the Théâtre Français. In 1855 he opened a theatre of his own, the Bouffes-Parisiens, which he directed until 1866 and where he gave many of his celebrated operettas, among them Orphée aux enfers (1858; Orpheus in the Underworld). He then produced operettas at Ems in Germany and an opéra-ballet in Vienna, Die Rheinnixen (1864; Rhine Spirits). Returning in 1864 to Paris, he produced at the Variétés his successful operetta La Belle Hélène (1864). Other successes followed, including La Vie Parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867), and La Périchole (1868). From 1872 to 1876 he directed the Théâtre de la Gaîté, and in 1874 he produced there a revised version of Orphée aux enfers. Described then as an opéra-féerique (“a fairy-like opera”), this venture was a financial failure. In 1876 he made a tour of the United States. The remaining years of his life were devoted to composition.

 His only grand opera, Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann), remained unfinished at his death. It was orchestrated and provided with recitatives by Ernest Guiraud, who also introduced the famous barcarole taken from Die Rheinnixen. Described as an opéra-fantastique, it was first produced at the Opéra-Comique on Feb. 10, 1881. Gaîté Parisienne, a suite of Offenbach's music arranged by Manuel Rosenthal, remains a popular orchestral work as well as ballet score.

      Offenbach is credited with writing in a fluent, elegant style and with a highly developed sense of both characterization and satire (particularly in his irreverent treatment of mythological subjects); he was called by Rossini (Rossini, Gioachino) “our little Mozart of the Champs-Elysées.” Indeed, he was almost as prolific as Mozart. He wrote more than 100 stage works, many of which, transcending topical associations, were maintained in the repertory of the 20th century.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • OFFENBACH, JACQUES — (1819–1880), French composer of comic operas and operettas. Born in Cologne, Offenbach was the son of isaac offenbach . At the age of 14 young Jacob, as he was then called, was sent to study the cello at the Paris Conservatoire, but after a year …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Offenbach, Jacques — (1819 1880)    composer    of German origin, Jacques offenbach was born in Cologne, the son of a cantor. He studied the cello at the Paris Conservatory, became a cellist, and, in 1855, opened his own theater, the Bouffes Parisiens. Beginning in… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Offenbach, Jacques — ► (1819 80) Compositor francés. Autor de Orfeo en los infiernos (1858) y La bella Helena (1864). * * * orig. Jacob Offenbach (20 jun. 1819, Colonia–5 oct. 1880, París, Francia). Compositor francés de origen alemán. Hijo de un cantor, estudió en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Offenbach, Jacques — (1819–80)    Composer. The son of a German cantor, Offenbach became the conductor of the Théâtre Français in Paris. He composed over a hundred operettas, marked by gay music and light social satire. The most famous of them was The Tales of… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Offenbach,Jacques — Of·fen·bach (ôʹfən bäk , ŏfʹən , ô fĕn bäkʹ), Jacques. 1819 1880. French composer noted for his operettas and the opera Tales of Hoffman (first performed 1881). * * * …   Universalium

  • Offenbach, Jacques — (1819 80)    French composer, of German origin. He was the son of a Cologne cantor. He became the conductor of the Theatre Francais in Paris. He composed over a hundred operettas including The Tales of Hoffman …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • OFFENBACH, JACQUES —    a musical composer, born at Cologne, of Jewish parents, creator of the opera bouffe; was the author of La Belle Hélène, Orphée aux Enfers, La Grande Duchesse, Madame Favart, &c. (1810 1880) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Offenbach, Jacques —  (1819–1880) German born French composer; born Jakob Eberst …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Offenbach — Offenbach, Jacques …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jacques Offenbach — Offenbach in the 1860s Jacques Offenbach (20 June 1819 – 5 October 1880) was a Prussian born French composer, cellist and impresario. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann …   Wikipedia


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