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Maas, Isabella Offenbach (1817–1891)

Natalie Ornish Biography Entry

Isabella Offenbach Maas, opera singer, was born in Cologne, Germany, on March 11, 1817. She was the daughter of Rabbi Isaac Judah and Marianne Offenbach. Isabella was the older sister of composer Jacques Offenbach. She toured Europe with young Jakob (Jacques) and another brother, Julius, giving operatic performances. Samuel Maas first saw her performing in a cathedral that he visited on one of his many trips to Europe from Texas. They were married in the spring of 1844 in Cologne.

Isabella had an attack of yellow fever eight days after she and Samuel arrived in Galveston, where 200 out of a population of 2,500 had already died in the epidemic. She lived to have four children. To Galveston she brought the civilizing influence of opera by continuing her singing, mainly among family and friends, and often at her son Max's home on a special stage he built for her in the attic. She also conducted concerts for the German Ladies Benevolent Society and the French Benevolent Society. Eventually, the Maases separated and Isabella moved into her daughter's home, across the street from Samuel's house. (Her final residence received a Texas Historical Marker in 1986.) She died on February 19, 1891, and was survived by sixteen grandchildren. Harry Levy, Jr., president of E. S. Levy and Company department store, was a great-grandson of Samuel and Isabella.

Galveston News, February 20, 1891; January 11, 1897. Samuel Maas Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989).

Categories:

  • Music
  • Genres (Classical)
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Jews
  • Women

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Natalie Ornish, “Maas, Isabella Offenbach,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 24, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/maas-isabella-offenbach.

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