Music

Jacques Offenbach

Born 20 June 1819. Died 5 October 1880.
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Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Jacques Offenbach

Featured in BBC Music Clips
 

Biography

Jacques Offenbach (20 June 1819 – 5 October 1880) was a German-born French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffman remains part of the standard opera repertory.

Born in Cologne, the son of a synagogue cantor, Offenbach showed early musical talent. At the age of 14, he was accepted as a student at the Paris Conservatoire but found academic study unfulfilling and left after a year. From 1835 to 1855 he earned his living as a cellist, achieving international fame, and as a conductor. His ambition, however, was to compose comic pieces for the musical theatre. Finding the management of Paris's Opéra-Comique company uninterested in staging his works, in 1855 he leased a small theatre in the Champs-Élysées. There he presented a series of his own small-scale pieces, many of which became popular.

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Links & Information

BBC Reviews

  1. Review of La Belle Hélène

    La Belle Hélène 2001

    Reviewed by Andrew McGregor
    Allergic to operetta? Make an exception for Offenbach.
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