William Balfe (1808-1870) was born in Dublin,
Ireland. He was the son of a dancing schoolmaster. Young Balfe showed good
musical ability at an early age. In Dublin he took violin and music
lessons. He went to London when his father died in 1823,
apprenticed himself to an organist and music-teacher, and
soon got a position as violinist in the orchestra of the Drury Lane Theatre.
He found that he had a voice and thought he might make a success as an
opera-singer. His d�but was a failure, but Count Mazzari became interested in
Balfe and took him to Italy, where Balfe studied singing for two years, and in
1828 took the part of Figaro in a performance of Rossini's "Barber of
Seville" at the Th��tre des Italiens at Paris. After a modestly successful
singing career in Italy and France, he returned to London in 1835 where he
commenced his enormously successful career as an operatic composer, at the age
of only 27!
His most successful operetta is "The Bohemian Girl," first performed at the Drury Lane
London, November 27, 1843, It was then performed all over the world throughout
the remainder of the 19th century, and translated into several other languages.
Balfe died at the age of 62 at his home near London, England.