Herbert, Victor

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Herbert, Victor,

1859–1924, Irish-American cellist, composer, and conductor, studied at the Stuttgart Conservatory. In 1886 the Metropolitan Opera Company engaged his wife, Therese Herbert-Föster, as a singer and Herbert as first cellist, and together they immigrated to the United States. From 1898 to 1904 he was conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, but after 1904 he was chiefly engaged in composition. Two of Herbert's serious operas, Natoma (1911) and Madeleine (1914), were produced, but he achieved his major success with his melodious operettas, some of which are Babes in Toyland (1903), The Red Mill (1906), Naughty Marietta (1910), Sweethearts (1913), and Eileen (1917). He also wrote music for some of the Ziegfeld Follies, and composed some orchestral music and a cello concerto.


See biography by E. N. Waters (1955).

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Herbert, Victor

(1859–1924) operetta composer, conductor; born in Dublin, Ireland. When he first came to the United States in 1886, he had the reputation of a serious cellist who had played under Johannes Brahms and Anton Rubenstein. As conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1889 to 1904, he premiered several of his own orchestral works (and his cello concerto continues to be played). In 1894 he launched a second career as a composer of light operas; among his approximately 50 popular operettas (with their still beloved melodies) are Babes in Toyland ("March of the Toys"), Mlle. Modiste ("Kiss Me Again"), Naughty Marietta ("Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life") (1910), and Eileen ("Thine Alone"). He was so versatile that he could write the music for several Ziegfeld Follies and also write one of the first American operas, Natoma (1911). (He had become an American citizen in 1902.) He was also a founder of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.