Jacques Offenbach (20 June 1819 – 5 October 1880) was born in Cologne, Germany. His father was a singer and violinist with the name Juda Eberst from Offenbach-am-Main – nowadays a suburb of Frankfurt. After relocating in Cologne, Juda acquired the nickname “Der Offenbacher” (the man from Offenbach), and he adopted Offenbach as the family name. Jacques (christened Jakob) was one of a family of ten and was taught violin by his father. At the age of 14, he was accepted as a student at the Paris Conservatoire, but left this after a year, finding that formal study was not what he wanted. He was to take to Parisian life extremely well and became an excellent cellist – a talent which brought him financial security and international fame.  However, he harboured a desire to succeed at composition, which did not go easy for him at first, and he often had to fall back on the cello to earn the type of money his wife’s well-to-do parents expected of him. His first full length operetta was Orpheus in the Underworld which was one of nearly 100 such works including La Belle Helene, La Vie Parisienne and Tales of Hoffmann (sadly he died before the premier of the latter).
Napoleon granted Offenbach French citizenship and awarded him the Légion d’Honneur.