Friedrich von Flotow (1812-1883)was of noble birth and intended for a diplomatic career. He was born near Lübeck, Germany but was sent to Paris at the age of fifteen to get an education as a diplomat. However, he found artistic circles more congenial, and soon became aware of his musical potential. He studied music seriously for a time and, sometimes in partnership with Offenbach, gained a hearing at the aristocratic soirees.
From 1856 to 1863 he directed the court theatre at Schwerin. His operas show the influence of French opéra comique, which set the tone for light opera in the 19th century. Many of his 29 operas were translated during his lifetime into English, French, or Italian for performances throughout Europe. The most successful were Alessandro Stradella (1844) and Martha (1847), which incorporates the Irish tune The Last Rose of Summer.
He spent his later years in Paris and Vienna, and saw his operas performed as far afield as St. Petersburg and Turin.