Edward German (originally Edward German Jones) was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire, in 1862, where, in his teens, he organised a local band and taught himself the violin. In 1880 he went to the Royal Academy to study the organ and the violin. After leaving the Academy in 1878 he was briefly an orchestral violinist before being employed as musical director at the Globe Theatre. He composed highly popular incidental music for plays, including "Richard III" (1889), "Henry VIII" (1892), "Nell Gwynn" (1900), and others. He also wrote symphonies, orchestral suites, symphonic poems, etc., of which his "Welsh Rhapsody" (1904) is best known.
After Sullivan's death in 1901, German was commissioned to complete his unfinished opera "The Emerald Isle", and he also wrote his own operetta "Merrie England" (1902), to be followed by other operettas ("A Princess of Kensington" (1903), "Tom Jones" (1907), "Fallen Fairies" (1909)). He thus came to be regarded as Sullivan's legitimate successor. His music is generally characterised by lightness and grace rather than depth. He was knighted in 1928, and died in London in 1936.