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From 1835 to 1855 he earned his living as a cellist, achieving international fame, and as a conductor.
His ambition, however, was to compose comic pieces for the musical theatre.
Before leaving, he found a number of pupils for Jules; the modest earnings from those lessons, supplemented by fees earned by both brothers as members of synagogue choirs, supported them during their studies.
The last remaining obstacle to his marriage to Hérminie was the difference in their professed religions; he converted to Roman Catholicism, with the comtesse de Vaux acting as his sponsor.
Isaac had been given letters of introduction to the director of the Paris Conservatoire, Luigi Cherubini, but he needed all his eloquence to persuade Cherubini even to give Jacob an audition.
The boy's age and nationality were both obstacles to admission.
Offenbach became associated with the Second French Empire of Napoleon III; the emperor and his court were genially satirised in many of Offenbach's operettas.
Napoleon III personally granted him French citizenship and the Légion d'Honneur.