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Jacques Offenbach

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Jacques Offenbach (20 June 1819, in Cologne5 October 1880, in Paris) was a French composer and cellist of the Romantic era. He is seen as one of the originators of the operetta form. Of German-Jewish descent, he was one of the most influential composers of popular music in Europe in the 19th century. Many of his works are still played today.

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