Christoph W. Gluck

Biography

Born: 1714   Died: 1787   Country: Germany   Period: Classical
One of the great masters of eighteenth century opera, Gluck is known for his elegant synthesis of the French and Italian operatic traditions, exemplified by such remarkable works as Orfeo ed Euridice and Alceste. A native of the Upper Palatinate, Gluck first studied with the Czech cellist and composer (and Franciscan friar) Bohuslav Cernohorsky, later continuing his studies with Sammartini in Italy. Already known as an opera composer in the Read more 1740s, Gluck visited Paris and London, where he met Handel. He married in 1750, settling in Vienna as an opera conductor.
In 1762, Gluck wrote his Orfeo ed Euridice, heralding a new era in the history of opera. Combining the Classical ideals of beauty and simplicity with an innate sense of dramatic impetus, it broke down many of the overwrought formal conventions of the Baroque and set the standard for a whole generation of operatic composers. In many ways, opera in the nineteenth century had its conception in the works of Gluck.
While Gluck achieved wide fame in his own time, his works are rare in opera houses today; he is primarily remembered as a reformer and revolutionary. In his dedication to Alceste, Gluck wrote that he "sought to confine music to its true function of serving poetry by expressing feelings and the situations of the story without interrupting and cooling off the action through useless and superfluous ornaments." This statement has often been interpreted as a desire to subordinate music to poetry; however, what inspired Gluck's reform was his belief that music gains in expressiveness when it is properly balanced with poetry. Thus, for example, by abolishing the traditional strict separation of recitative and aria, Gluck used music as a means of maintaining an uninterrupted flow of the dramatic action. Gluck's librettist for Orfeo ed Euridice, Alceste, and Paride ed Elena -- the three works best representing his reformist ideas -- was Raniero de Calzabigi, a poet and critic who anticipated some of the composer's fundamental ideas concerning poetry and music. For example, Calzabigi opposed the traditional poetic approach to mythology, exemplified by Pietro Metastasio, the greatest librettist of the opera seria tradition. While Metastasio's mythological figures appear as thinly disguised eighteenth century characters, Calzabigi's poetry strives to create an atmosphere of timelessness, which perfectly suited Gluck's artistic intentions.
After bringing his reforms to fruition, Gluck had several new works produced in Paris. The most remarkable of these works is Armide (1777), based on an old libretto by Philippe Quinault, which Lully used for his eponymous work in 1686. Viewed by conservatives as an attack on the French musical and literary traditions, Gluck's operas were targeted by a literary cabal, which decided to embrace Niccolň Piccinni, a respected composer of comic operas, as a standard-bearer. In a literary squabble reminiscent of the "quarrel of the buffoons" in 1752, the traditionalists proclaimed the superiority of traditional (that is: Italian, or, more precisely, Metastasian) opera over French opera, represented by the iconoclastic Gluck. It should be noted that the two composers, who respected each other, refused to participate in the war of words, leaving the polemics to Parisian pseudo-intellectuals.
In essence, Gluck's victory over his adversaries was the triumph of music. His works are regarded as seminal contributions to musical drama, and his ideas were gradually accepted, first by Piccinni himself, and later by Cherubini, who flourished as an opera composer in the 1790s and early 1800s. In the nineteenth century, Gluck's approach to opera was adopted by Spontini, who in turn influenced Berlioz as an opera composer. Read less
Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice / Östman, Et Al
Release Date: 08/20/2002   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8660064   Number of Discs: 1
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Gluck: The Symphonies / Gaigg, L'Orfeo Barockorchester
Release Date: 06/28/2011   Label: Cpo  
Catalog: 777411-2   Number of Discs: 1
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Gluck: Il Trionfo Di Clelia / Sigismondi Di Risio, Armonia Atenea
Release Date: 03/26/2012   Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)  
Catalog: 6091733   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits

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  • 1.
    Joshua Bell: The Classical Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 539520 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Alexander Courage,  George Gershwin,  Nicholas Maw,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Joshua Bell,  John T. Williams,  Craig Ogden,  Gregory Knowles  ... 
    Conductor:  John T. Williams,  Roger Norrington,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  David Zinman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Baroque Gold: 100 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4832158 Release Date: 06/30/2017   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Jean-Baptiste Lully,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel North,  Christopher Hirons,  Christophe Rousset,  Ottavio Dantone  ... 
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel,  Philip Pickett,  Christopher Hogwood,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua Cologne,  New London Consort,  Academy of Ancient Music  ... 
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  • 3.
    Goddess of the Cello / Walevska
    Label: Leaf Music Inc   Catalog: 206 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Enrique Granados,  Ennio Bolognini,  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi,  José Bragato  ... 
    Performer:  Christine Walevska,  Akimi Fukuhara
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  • 4.
    New York Philharmonic: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 533636 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Levant,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern,  Yo-Yo Ma
    Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg,  Josef Stransky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 5.
    Perspectives / Grimaud
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002643402 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Béla Bartók,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Hélčne Grimaud
    CD: $21.99
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  • 6.
    Camille & Julie Berthollet
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 558281 Release Date: 11/25/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Aram Khachaturian,  Karl Jenkins,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Camille Berthollet,  Julie Berthollet
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  • 7.
    Vivarte Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 2367 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Markus Schäfer,  Jonas Will,  Johannes Pohl,  Harry Van der Kamp  ... 
    Conductor:  Konrad Ruhland,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frieder Bernius,  Bruno Weil  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Niederaltaich Scholars,  Tölz Boys Choir,  Baroque Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Albinoni, Pachelbel, Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart & Gluck / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002581001 Release Date: 11/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Performer:  David Bell,  Leon Spierer,  Andreas Blau,  Frank Maus  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Romantic Journey: Music for Violin & Piano / Lin, Jin
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1613 Release Date: 09/13/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manuel Ponce,  Grigoras Dinicu,  Jules Massenet,  Eugčne Ysa˙e  ... 
    Performer:  Haoli Lin,  Hai Jin
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  • 10.
    Relaxation: Soothing Sounds of Classical Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578341 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Edvard Grieg,  Erik Satie,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Nora Shulman,  Judy Loman,  Takako Nishizaki,  Wolf Harden  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Breiner,  Jérôme Kaltenbach,  Alfred Walter,  Jorma Panula  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Nancy Lyric Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Strauss Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 11.
    Friedman: Piano Transcriptions / Banowetz
    Label: Grand Piano   Catalog: 712 Release Date: 08/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Christoph W. Gluck,  John Field  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Banowetz
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  • 12.
    100 Best Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556480 Release Date: 08/05/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Barry Tuckwell,  Mikhail Rudy,  Maria-Joao Pires  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Kent Nagano,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Alberto Lysy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Lysy,  St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    Hand: Odyssey
    Label: Panoramic   Catalog: 5 Release Date: 07/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederic Hand,  Traditional,  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Frederic Hand,  David Leisner,  Jayna Nelson
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  • 14.
    Flute Concertos & Sonatas
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88725463922 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Carl Stamitz,  Franz Xaver Richter,  Johann Wenzel Stamitz,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Barthold Kuijken,  Claire Guimond,  Frans Brüggen,  Bob van Asperen  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
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  • 15.
    The Art of Midori
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 518340 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Niccolň Paganini,  Antonín Dvorák,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Midori,  Robert McDonald,  Nobuko Imai,  Christoph Eschenbach
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Claudio Abbado,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Arpeggione / Leisner, Bailey
    Label: Azica   Catalog: 71306 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Manuel de Falla,  David Leisner,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Zuill Bailey,  David Leisner
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  • 17.
    Dance Passion / Leticia Gomez-Tagle
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38183 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Leticia Gomez-Tagle
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Air: Luftige Toner
    Label: Bergen Digital   Catalog: 7045 Release Date: 10/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Roger Andreassen,  Tom Ottar Andreassen
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  • 19.
    Jean-Pierre Rampal: The Complete Erato Recordings, Vol. 3 1970-1982
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 552118 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 23
    Composer:  Johann Melchoir Molter,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Aram Khachaturian,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Pierre Barbizet,  Robert Veyron-Lacroix,  Marie-Claire Alain  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-François Paillard,  Claudio Scimone,  Jean Martinon,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Trio Pasquier,  Les Solistes De Ličge
    CD: $68.99
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  • 20.
    The Perlman Sound
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 551699 Release Date: 08/28/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Samuel Sanders,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Daniel Barenboim,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 21.
    The Parisian Symphony
    Label: Ricercar   Catalog: 357 Release Date: 06/30/2015   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  André Modeste Grétry,  François Joseph Gossec,  Johann Wenzel Stamitz,  Joseph Martin Kraus  ... 
    Performer:  Sophie Karthäuser,  Jan de Winne,  Patrick Cohën-Akenine,  François Poly  ... 
    Conductor:  Guy Van Waas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Agrémens
    CD: $37.49
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  • 22.
    Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra - The Complete Sony Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875030622 Release Date: 06/16/2015   Number of Discs: 47
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wilhelm Friedemann Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Heinrich Ignaz Biber  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanne Lamon,  Stephen Marvin,  Christina Mahler,  Ivars Taurins  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon,  Bruno Weil,  Frieder Bernius
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra,  Stuttgart Chamber Choir,  Tölz Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $72.49
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  • 23.
    Treasured Classics
    Label: Discovery Music & Vision   Catalog: 114 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Fritz Kreisler,  Charles Gounod,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Henri Wieniawski  ... 
    Performer:  Devorina Gamalova,  Krassimir Taskov
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  • 24.
    111 - The Piano - Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002281002 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Géza Anda,  Martha Argerich,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 25.
    Decca Sound  – Mono Years 1944 -1956
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002280602 Release Date: 04/07/2015   Number of Discs: 53
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Backhaus,  Clifford Curzon,  Alfredo Campoli,  Henry Datyner  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Roger Desormičre,  Karl Münchinger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
    CD: $213.99
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