Thursday, March 3, 2016

Classical Music of Ireland: Victor Herbert

Today we continue our look at Irish-born composers. Are you familiar with Victor Herbert (1859–1924)? You may recognize his “March of the Toys” from Babes in Toyland below:

Herbert was born in Dublin where, shortly thereafter, his father passed away. Several years later, his mother moved the family to Stuttgart after remarrying. Here, Herbert studied cello at the conservatory and played in orchestras.

Victor Herbert: Courtesy of
In the late 1880s, Herbert and his wife moved to the United States where she sang with the Metropolitan Opera and he played cello with the orchestra. He also worked on faculty at the National Conservatory—the same school where Dvorak would be appointed director later in the century. He also conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony during the late 1890s. He later resigned after some disagreements and formed his own orchestra that focused on light music.

Though Herbert composed a variety of serious works, he became best known for his operettas. One of his most famous, Eileen (1917), is based on the Irish rebellion of 1798.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Irish composers Joan Trimble and Charles Stanford! 

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