14th March 1835
26th February 1906
Manuel Fernández Caballero was a Spanish musician and composer of Zarzuelas
He began musical studies very early with his brother-in-law Julián Gil, director of the local theatre orchestra, and with José Calvo, who taught him basic technique on a wide variety of instruments. He also sang as a chorister in the city's Augustinian Monastery. At the age of ten, he was sent to Madrid to continue studies with another brother-in-law, Rafael Palazón; and in 1850 he decided to settle permanently in the capital, entering the Conservatory and studying a wide variety of disciplines, notably harmony with Indalecio Soriano Fuertes. On the latter's death, he continued composition lessons with Hilarión Eslava, adding counterpoint and fugue to his academic accomplishments. In 1856 he won the First Prize for Composition.
1853 had seen him working as a first violinist at the Teatro Real and conducting, at the Teatro de Variedades where he wrote quantities of orchestral overtures, incidental and ballet music. The following year he moved on to the Teatro Lope de Vega, where he wrote his first zarzuela - Tres madres para una hija. Despite signal successes with zarzuelas like La jardinera (1857) the path to prosperity proved elusive. Seven years and about 30 zarzuelas on, disillusioned and under-employed, he formed a company in Cuba where he lived until 1871.