Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) was a German-born French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas and his uncompleted opera 'Les Contes d'Hoffmann' (The Tales of Hoffmann). He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr. and Arthur Sullivan.
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.
In his last years he strove to finish 'The Tales of Hoffmann', but he died before the premiere of the opera, which has entered the standard repertory in versions completed or edited by other musicians. The Barcarolle, arranged by Gregg Nestor for two voices and guitar, remains one of his most enduring and popular works.