June 20, 1819 – October 5, 1880
Jacques Offenbach was born in Germany, and had his first exposure to classical music through violin lessons. His talent began to shine as early as six, and by nine he switched instrumentation to the cello. At 12 he was performing, and shortly thereafter his family sent him to Paris to study at the Conservatoire.
Offenbach fared poorly there, and lacked funds, so he dropped out. He began performing professionally, and met with success. He found his compositional skills lacking, and studied with Halevy, who brought his talents up to scratch. He renewed his attempts, and continued performing. Shortly thereafter he was hired as the conductor at the Theatre Francais, and it was at this time he began to compose prolifically. His pieces took burlesque opera and added a layer of sophistication to it that the public enjoyed. He became a master of this method, and his fame was assured.
His influence on classical music lies chiefly in his operettas, which experienced much success from 1858 onwards. His work The Tales of Hoffmann, was published after his death, and remains his most popular accomplishment.
Orpheus in the Underworld
La Vie Parisienne
The Tales of Hoffmann