Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Christoph Willibald Gluck

Portrait By Joseph Duplessis

Christoph Willibald Gluck

2 July 1714, Erasbach, near Berching, Upper Palatinate, Bavaria – 15 November 1787, Vienna, Austria


 

Christoph Willibald Gluck, Ritter (knight) Von Gluck was a German classical composer of the early classical period, best known for his operas. Gluck, whose father probably intended for him to continue in the family employment of forestry, at an early age showed a strong inclination toward music. In order to escape from disagreements with his father, the young Gluck left home (probably about 1727) and, supporting himself by his music, made his way to Prague, where he played in several churches, began university work (1731), and continued his musical studies.

He went to Vienna in 1736, he was discovered by a Lombard nobleman who took him to Milan. Here Gluck, apart from fulfilling his duties in the Melzi family chapel, studied composition with the Italian organist and composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini, from whom he learned the new Italian style of instrumental music.

Christoph Willibald Gluck – Italian Arias Cecilia Bartoli mezzo-soprano

Gluck had his first great dramatic success in 1741, in the Teatro Ducal in Milan, with his first opera, Artaserse, to a libretto by P. Metastasio. Until 1745 there then followed an annual succession of operas for this theatre: Demofoonte (1742), Arsace (1743), Sofonisba (1744), and Ippolito (1745). In addition, Gluck wrote Cleonice (Demetrio) for Venice, Il Tigrane for Crema and Poro for Turin. In these early works, of which mostly only fragments have survived, Gluck largely followed the existing Italian operatic fashion.

In 1745 Gluck, by then well known as an operatic composer, was invited to England at the instigation of Lord Middlesex, director of Italian opera at the Haymarket Theatre, London, in order to challenge Handel’s solid hold on London opera goers.

Christoph Willibald Gluck – Ippolito Se tu vedessi come vegg’io Sonia Prina

On August, 1772, the Paris Opéra was encouraged to stage Gluck’s newly completed opera, Iphigénie en Aulide (the text, after Racine’s tragedy, was by François-Louis Leblanc, bailli Du Roullet); and, as Gluck had undertaken to transform the genial Italian style to the more serious opera cultivated by French composers as well as to provide six more similar operas, he went to Paris in the autumn of 1773. The performances of Iphigénie on April 19, 1774, and of the French version of Orfeo in the summer of the same year met with tremendous success.

Christoph Willibald Gluck – Iphigénie en Tauride Orchestre de la société des concerts du conservatoire, Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini With: Patricia Neway, Pierre Mollet, Léopold Simoneau, Robert Massard (recorded 1952)

He was knighted in 1756.

More on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph_Willibald_Gluck

 

Gluck – Orfeo e Euridice London Philarmonic Orchestra, Conductor Raymond Leppard (recorded 1982)

 

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