Gustave Kobbé was born in New York in 1857. He received his musical education at Wiesbaden in Germany. He began his career as co-editor of the Musical Review in 1882 and was sent as a correspondent to Bayreuth by the New York World for the first performance of Parisifal.
He contributed many articles on music to the leading American magazines and became a music critic of the New York Herald for eighteen years. At the time that he died, Kobbé was at the point of completing the book that was published after his death; it was published as The Complete Opera Book (The Definitive Kobbé's Opera Book, Edited, Revised, and Updated by The Earl of Harewood, 1987).