Isaac Offenbach

Cantor & composer

Isaac Offenbach, born Isaac Juda Eberst, was born in Offenbach near Frankfurt. He left his hometown in 1799 to travel as a wandering musician. In his travels he picked up the epithet “der Offenbacher” which he later adopted as his official surname. In 1802, he settled in Duetz where he worked for many years as a saloon musician. Offenbach moved to Cologne in 1816 where he was employed as a music teacher, and later as a local hazzan. He retained his post as hazzan for nearly twenty-five years until his death in 1850. Isaac Offenbach was Father to ten children, among them the famous composer Jacques Offenbach.

Offenbach was a noted composer of synagogue and secular music. The majority of his musical manuscripts are preserved, including twenty folders of cantorial compositions and transcriptions of traditional synagogue melodies. His manuscripts were donated to The Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and to the Birnbaum Collection at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Offenbach was also a recognized writer, editor and translator. He published a Haggadah with a German translation, an appendix of original and traditional melodies (1838), and a Hebrew-German youth prayer book (1839).