Jacques Offenbach

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Jacques Offenbach (born Jacob Offenbach; 20 June 1819 – 5 October 1880) was a German-born French composer and cellist of the Romantic era and one of the originators of the operetta form. Of German-Jewish ancestry, he was one of the most influential composers of popular music in Europe in the 19th century, and many of his works remain in the repertory.

Offenbach's numerous operettas, such as Orpheus in the Underworld, and La belle Hélène, were extremely popular in both France and the English-speaking world during the 1850s and 1860s. They combined political and cultural satire with witty grand opera parodies. His popularity in France went down during the 1870s after the Second Empire, and he fled France, but during the last years of his life, his popularity rebounded, and several of his operettas are still performed. While his name remains associated most closely with the French operetta and the Second Empire, it is Offenbach's one fully operatic masterpiece, The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), composed at the end of his career, that has become the most familiar of Offenbach's works in major opera houses.

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Biography

Offenbach's father, born Isaac Eberst (though this is unconfirmed) in Offenbach am Main around 1780, took the name Offenbach due to the Napoleonic edict of 1807[vague] when he was already in Deutz where he moved in 1802. He was a man of many talents who worked as a bookbinder, translator, publisher, music teacher and composer and became a cantor some 30 years later, and himself wrote several works, including a well known Haggadah (Passover home service). In 1816 the family moved to Cologne, where his son Jacob (changed to Jacques when he arrived to study in Paris) was born in 1819.

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