I cannot hear this excerpt of an operetta by Offenbach without picturing Bugs Bunny. This is an excerpt from Orpheus In The Underworld, an excerpt titled Infernal Gallop. Bet you know it, also.
Jacques Offenbach is considered a French composer, though he was German born. His family moved to France from Germany when he was quite young because Jews were treated better in France. He was born in 1819 and died in 1880. His father was a synagogue cantor and brought music into the home often. Jacques studied violin from his father and then learned cello starting about age 6.
He entered the Paris Conservatoire at about age 14 but only stayed a year, not enjoying the academic life of it. He was accepted into a position as cellist with the Opera-Comique. He also began touring as a cellist and conducting. He did this between the years of 1835 and 1855. He found he enjoyed composing, a dream of his, when he worked as a copyist for the Opera-Comique. He worked with a pianist, Frederich Flotow, who wrote the piano parts while Offenbach wrote the cello parts. They composed two different books of cellos solos this way.
Offenbach is known for his comedic style and his fluid, memorable melodies. His ability to use characterization through sound and to create satire in his music is unmatched in many critics eyes. He approached music with humor and this was apparent in his favorite style of writing operettas. He wrote well over 100 stage works.
When the Opera-Comique would not show any interest in producing his stage works, Offenbach rented a small theater and produced them himself. His first highly successful pieces is still on the repertoire of opera companies today – Orphée aux enfers (“Orpheus in the Underworld”). This satirical piece arrived on the scene in 1858 and poked fun at political figures of the day. It was very well received.
Other pieces followed, including La belle Hélène (1864), La vie parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867) and La Périchole (1868). The biggest piece Offenbach is known for was not staged during his lifetime. Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Tales of Hoffman) was in production rehearsals according to some sources when Offenbach died in 1880. Other sources say it was still unorchestrated as well. Either way, Offenbach did not live to see it produced. It is one of the standard repertoire pieces for opera companies today. Below is a piece from The Tales of Hoffman.
Resources for Offenbach:
And one last video for you to listen to – it is about an hour’s worth of music from various Offenbach operettas.
Lori, At Home.
Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.
Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook – This week is O is for Olympics.
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – This week is Olympics 2021.
Featured from last week the letter N…
- Netflix in Your Homeschool over at Every Bed of Roses
- N is for Ninjago over at Our Homeschool Notebook
- No Longer Wanted from A Net in Time
- N is for Names from A Mom’s Quest to Teach
- Discovering the N Bunnies of the World from At Home Pets
- N is for saying NO from A Net in Time
- Letter N Homeschool Tips from Homeschooling Highway