Isabella Offenbach Maas: Jewish Opera Singer of Early Galveston, Texas

Isabella Offenbach Maas

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Isabella Offenbach was born in Cologne, Germany in 1817 to Rabbi Judah and Marianne Offenbach.

Isabella Offenbach was the older sister of Romantic composer Jacques Offenbach, and a musical star in her own right.

As a young woman, she toured Europe giving opera performances together with Jacques and another brother, Julius. 

Royalty competed for her hand in marriage, but it was Samuel Maas, a Jewish Texas businessman, who won her heart.

Samuel Maas made frequent trips to Europe for his import-export business.

During one visit, he attended an opera concert in a cathedral and heard Isabella singing.

This began a brief but exciting courtship.

Samuel and Isabella were wed in Cologne in 1844.

Galveston, Texas

Samuel and Isabella Maas settled in Galveston, Texas.

Isabella was stricken with yellow fever eight days after their arrival.

Samuel described the frightening scene in a letter to his cousin:

“Out of a population of about 2,500 [in Galveston], already 200 have died [of yellow fever]. Things here leave you cold or filled with disgust when in comparison with Europe.” –Letter to Henri Hart of Charleston, NC, August 13, 1844.

Isabella Maas survived.

She devoted herself to bringing a civilizing influence to pioneer Texans.

Historic Marker at home of Isabella Offenbach Maas

Historic Marker at home of Isabella Offenbach Maas

She continued singing opera among family and friends at her son Max’s house, which had a special stage for
her.

She also sang at charity events and conducted concerts for the German Ladies Benevolent Society and the French Benevolent Society.

Samuel, who professed a passionate love for the arts, wrote concert reviews for local newspapers.

 

Isabella Offenbach Maas home in Galveston, Texas

Isabella Offenbach Maas home in Galveston, Texas

Family

Samuel and Isabella Maas had four children.

The Maases separated in their later years.

Isabella moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, whose house was across the street from Samuel’s.

That residence received a Texas Historical Marker in 1986.

 

Isabella Offenbach Maas died in 1891, leaving four children and sixteen grandchildren.

Tombstone of Isabella Offenbach Maas

Tombstone of Isabella Offenbach Maas

 

Jonathan Friedmann is the curator for this Isabella Offenbach Maas Exhibit.

Cantor Friedmann’s Music Blog is at: http://thinkingonmusic.wordpress.com/

We need a picture of Isabella Maas if anyone has one.