I was interested to see a book in the library called Kobbe's Complete Opera, and (though I'm not interested in opera at all), I thought I should look for more information on the author. It turns out that Gustave Kobbe (acute accent on the 'e' as usual) was born in New York City in 1857. he received his education there and also in the German spa town of Wiesbaden. He was co-editor of the 'Musical Review' for a while, and in 1882 he was a correspondent in Bayreuth (the famous opera-house of Richard Wagner) to the 'New York World' for the first performance of Wagner's opera 'Parzifal'. He was music critic for the 'New York Herald', and also wrote many articles for other papers and magazines. A great fan of Wagner and his music, he apparently wrote a/some book/s on the subject. However, his untimely death in July 1918 made it impossible for him to see the publication of his 'Complete Opera'. he was an avid sailor, and died in the Great South Bay, Long Island, New York, when a seaplane crashed into his boat.
Interesting, but I couldn't find anything about his family background etc., so I hope someone will enlighten us.