Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary Composer Biographies

Victor Herbert

Born: February 1, 1859 in Dublin, Ireland
Died: May 26, 1924 in New York City, New York, America
Nationality: Irish
Era: Romantic
Main genre: Operetta
Main works:
The Fortune Teller (1898)
Babes in Toyland (1903)
The Red Mill (1906)
Sweethearts (1913)
Eileen (1917)
Naughty Marietta (1910)
The Fall of a Nation (1916), Movie Score
Natoma (1911)
Madeleine (1914).
music for some of the Ziegfeld Follies
Brief biography:

Born in Dublin, Victor Herbert was a cellist, conductor and composer who wrote operettas, comic operas, and many other songs. It was at his grandfather, Samuel Lover’s home that Herbert heard a great cellist, Alfredo Carlo Piatti perform. Piatti’s performance inspired Herbert to learn an instrument of his own. Herbert's father died and afterwards his mother remarried a German physician the family moved to Stuttgart, Germany. It was there that he was trained in music at the Stuttgart Conservatory. By age 17 he was making a living as a musician. He spent one year as a member of Paul von Derwies' private orchestra. The next year was spent in the orchestra of Eduard Strauss. Strauss was the brother of Johann Strauss, Jr., the famous waltz king of Vienna. During this experience he was able to take in the Viennese music style and waltz songs. At the age of 22 Victor Herbert returned to the Stuttgart Conservatory to study composition. He worked as a cellist in Germany and Austria.

In 1886 he married Therese Herbert-Foster in Vienna. They moved to the United States after Therese was offered a singing position at the Metropolitan Opera and only because the Opera also offered Victor a job. In 1886 he became the first cellist at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York City. His wife sang German opera at the Metropolitan Opera House for 10 years. In 1893 he succeeded the celebrated bandmaster Patrick S. Gilmore as conductor of the famed 22nd Regiment Band of the New York National Guard. From 1898-1904 Herbert conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

After that, Herbert decided to focus on his composing. In 1914 he helped found the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), which protects copyright and collects royalties on behalf of the organization's members. Victor Herbert died May 26, 1924 in New York City.

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