“ISAAC OFFENBACH UND SEIN SOHN JACQUES” oder “ES IST NICHT ALLE TAGE PURIM”
(“Isaac Offenbach and his son Jacques”, or “Not Every Day is a Purim Day”), published in 1998 by Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen, Germany). 236 pages. Original in German.
This unique book is already frequently quoted by musicologists, and in works about Jacques Offenbach, in different countries and languages.
It is the first ever written biography of Jacques Offenbach’s father, Isaac Offenbach (1779-1850), for 30 years cantor at the Jewish Community in Cologne (Germany), and himself a talented composer and writer. This work, based on the discovery and research of so far unknown documents and sources, helps the reader understand the milieu that shaped and left a decisive imprint on the musical creations by his son Jacques Offenbach, the famous composer of more than one hundred operettas, and the celebrated opera “The Tales of Hoffmann”. It also clearly proves the father’s Jewish liturgical composition’s direct influence on the son, both on his personality and his music. Thus, this book sheds new light on the very special Jewish character that joins together the usually assumed French and German ingredients in Jacques Offenbach’s works, an aspect until now neglected by most of his biographers for more than 150 years. At the same time it provides a dramatic and colourful description of Jewish life in 19th. Century Germany and France, its ordeals and dilemmas, against the background of decisive changes affecting Europe’s social, political, and cultural scene. The book includes a musical theatre play and several poems never published before, the largest Offenbach family tree ever compiled, more than 30 illustrations with reproductions from Isaac Offenbach’s musical scores and manuscripts, as well as many recently discovered documents related to his son Jacques.