Born 1 February 1859, Dublin, Eire, d. 26 May 1924, New York, USA. An important and influential composer during the transitional period in the early part of the century when the operetta form was overtaken by American musical comedy.
Brought up in the south of England, Herbert studied classical music as a youngster. He played cello in various European symphony orchestras, all the while composing music for the concert platform. In 1885 he accepted a teaching post in Stuttgart where he married an opera singer. The following year he accompanied her on a visit to the USA where he also played, taught and studied. Among Herbert's compositions from his early days in the USA were "An American Fantasy". He then began writing operettas, and in 1898 one of the first of them, The Fortune Teller, became a great success in New York, establishing his reputation. Four years later Herbert became a US citizen. He continued writing classical music and operettas, and, over the next 20 years composed the music for some 30 Broadway shows, including Babes In Toyland (1903), It Happened In Nordland (1904), Mlle. Modiste (1906), The Red Mill (1906), The Prima Donna (1908), Naughty Marietta (1910), Sweethearts (1913), Princess Pat (1915), Eileen (1917), The Velvet Lady (1919), Orange Blossoms (1922), The Dream Girl (1924), and contributed to several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies.
The shows contained some of the most memorable and popular songs of the day, including "Gypsy Love", "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!", "Every Day Is Ladies Day With Me", "Eileen", "Because You're You", "Kiss In The Dark", "Kiss Me Again", "Italian Street Song", "Neapolitan Love Song", "Indian Summer", "Romany Life", "Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life", "Sweethearts", "Moonbeams", "Yesterthoughts", "Thine Alone", and "Rose Of The World".
His main lyricist collaborators included Rida Johnson Young, Henry Blossom, Buddy De Sylva, Harry B. Smith, Glen MacDonough, Gene Buck, and Robert Smith. Herbert also wrote musical scores for silent films (usually performed only in those motion picture theatres in main urban centres equipped to house a full orchestra) and grand operas.
In February 1924 Herbert's "A Suite For Serenades" was performed by Paul Whiteman's orchestra at a New York concert which also saw the first public performance of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue". The 1939 movie, the Great Victor Herbert, starred Walter Connolly, Allan Jones and Mary Martin. Herbert's prolific output was achieved despite ill health but he suffered a fatal heart attack in May 1924. Works: Operas:
Prince Ananias (N.Y., Nov. 20, 1894);
The Wizard of the Nile (Chicago, Sept. 26, 1895);
The Gold Bug (N.Y., Sept. 21, 1896);
The Serenade (Cleveland, Feb. 17, 1897);
The Idolís Eye (Troy, N.Y., Sept. 20, 1897);
The Fortune Teller (Toronto, Sept. 14, 1898);
Cyrano de Bergerac (Montreal, Sept. 11, 1899);
The Singing Girl (Montreal, Oct. 2,1899);
The Ameer (Scranton, Pa., Oct. 9, 1899);
The Viceroy (San Francisco, Feb. 12, 1900);
Babes in Toyland (Chicago, June 17, 1903);
Babette (Washington, D.C., Nov. 9,1903);
It Happened in Nordland (Harrisburg, Pa., Nov. 21,1904);
Miss Dolly Dollars (Rochester, N.Y., Aug. 31, 1905);
Wonderland (Buffalo, Sept. 14,1905);
MIle. Modiste (Trenton, Oct. 7,1905); Ti
The Red Mill (Buffalo, Sept. 3, 1906);
Dream City (N.Y., Dec. 25, 1906);
The Tattooed Man (Baltimore, Feb. 11, 1907);
The Rose of Algeria (Wilkes-Bane, Sept. 11, 1909);
Little Nemo Z (Philadelphia, Sept. 28, 1908);
The Prima Donna (Chicago, Oct. 5,1908);
Old Dutch (Wilkes-Bane, Nov. 6,1909);
Naughty Marzetta (Syracuse, Oct. 24,1910);
When Sweet 16(Springfield, I Mass., Dec. 5,1910);
MIle. Rosita (later called The Duchess; Ti Boston, March 27,1911);
The Enchantress (Washington, D.C., Oct. 9,1911);
The Lady of the Slipper (Philadelphia, Oct. 8, 1912);
The Madcap Duchess (Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 13, 1913);
Sweethearts (Baltimore, March 24, 1913);
The Debutante (Atlantic City, Sept. 21, 1914);
The Only Girl (Atlantic City, Oct. 1,1914);
Princess Pat (Atlantic City, Aug. 23, 1915);
Eileen (Cleveland, Jan. 1, 1917, as Hearts of Erin);
Her Regiment (Springfield, Mass., Oct. 22, 1917);
The Velvet Lady (Philadelphia, Dec. 23, 1918);
My Golden Girl (Stamford, Conn., Dec. 19, 1919);
The Girl in the Spotlight (Stamford, Conn., July 7, 1920);
Oui, Madame (Philadelphia, March 22, 1920);
Orange Blossoms (Philadelphia, Sept. 4, 1922);
The Dream Girl (New a Haven, April 22, 1924).
Natoma (Philadelphia, Feb. 25, 1911) and Madeleine (Metropolitan Opera, N.Y., Jan. 24, 1914).
Other stage productions:
Cinderella Man (1915);
The Century Girl (1916);
Ziegfeld Follies (1917; 1920-23);
The Willow Plate, marionette play by Tony Sarg (1924).
Serenade, op. 12; 1st Cello Concerto (Stuttgart, Dec. 8,1885);
2nd Cello Concerto, op. 30 (N.Y. March 10, 1894);
Pan-Americana; Suite of Serenades (composed for Paul White
manís arch.; perf. 1924); Golden Days; Dramatic Overture;
orch. arrangements; menís choruses; songs; many pieces for
piano, violin and piano, and cello and piano.
Bibliography: Victor Herbert: American Music Master, Claire Lee. Encyclopedia of Popular Music Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 2002