Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1819, Jacques Offenbach, the son of a Jewish cantor, spent most of his adult life in France and became one of the most popular romantic composers of the 19th century. Among his most well-loved and enduring works for stage are highly melodic, humorous operettas that popularized the genre throughout Europe. His comic subjects could sugarcoat biting commentary on society and politics with humorous quotes from well-known operatic music and brassy climaxes. Offenbach's rare gift for melody is immediately apparent in his famous overture and can-can to Orphee aux enfers, which has remained his best-known operetta. He died in October 1880 at the age of 61.