Victor Herbert was arguably the most important theatrical composer of the early 20th century, spearheading the transformation from the traditional Viennese operetta form of the past to the Americanized musical comedies which dominated the decades to follow. Herbert was born in Dublin, Ireland, on February 1, 1859; after his father's death, at age three he was sent to live with his grandmother in Kent, England, before re-joining his mother in Stuttgart in 1867. After playing cello in orchestras throughout Europe -- including Eduard Strauss' in Vienna -- he returned home to study composition at the Stuttgart Conservatory. Upon marrying Therese Forster, a soprano with the Stuttgart Opera, Herbert followed his bride to the U.S. after she signed on with the New York Metropolitan Opera. With bandleader Patrick S. Gilmore's 1892 death, Herbert took over direction of his 22nd Regiment Band, which he helmed until accepting the position of principal conductor with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1898. In the intervening years, he completed his first operetta, 1894's Prince Ananias, for the Boston Ideal Opera Company.