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

Work: Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits

Browse 1-25 of 200 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Love and Longing / Yoonie Han
    Label: Steinway & Sons   Catalog: 30030 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Franz Liszt,  Reynaldo Hahn,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Yoonie Han
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  • 3.
    Play - Works For Cello And Piano / Moreau, Hodique
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 636958 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vittorio Monti,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Niccolň Paganini,  Alexander Glazunov  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre Hodique,  Edgar Moreau
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  • 4.
    Best Of Classic
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 7016 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Jacques Offenbach,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Patrice Fontanarosa,  Günther Körner,  Thierry Amadi  ... 
    Conductor:  Denise Cloutier,  Frank Shipway,  Libor Pesek,  Arturo Leonard  ... 
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  • 5.
    In Dance And Song / Tom Poster
    Label: Champs Hill Records   Catalog: 75 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Edvard Grieg,  Béla Bartók,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Tom Poster
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  • 6.
    Autograph / Alexandre Tharaud
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 34137 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gabriel Fauré,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Alexandre Tharaud
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  • 7.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1104380 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  John Newton,  César Franck,  Ludovico Einaudi,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Il Divo,  The Priests,  Einaudi,  Jonathan & Charlotte  ... 
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  • 8.
    Intermezzo: Works For Violin And Piano
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 13544 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Intermezzo
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  • 9.
    Opera Breve / Philippe Quint, Lily Maisky
    Label: Avanti Classic   Catalog: 1040 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Lily Maisky,  Philippe Quint
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  • 10.
    The Art Of Erica Morini -  Westminster / American Decca Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 40044 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Erica Morini,  Leon Pommers,  Walter Trampler,  Felix Galimir  ... 
    Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski,  Nicholas Harsanyi,  Frederic Waldman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Princeton Chamber Orchestra,  Musica Aeterna
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  • 11.
    Label: Sounds True   Catalog: 3916 Release Date: 10/15/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Charles Gounod,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Lisa Spector
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  • 12.
    Licht und Shatten - Music for Flute and Harp / Sulser, Jahnke
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 1377 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Froidevau,  Georges Bizet,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Carl Nielsen  ... 
    Performer:  Fabienne Sulser,  Ruth Jahnke
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  • 13.
    Le Violon Roi / Renaud Capucon [3-CD Set]
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 584402 Release Date: 05/21/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Renaud Capuçon,  Gautier Capuçon,  Martha Argerich,  Mischa Maisky  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexandre Rabinovitch,  Myung-Whun Chung,  Daniel Harding,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra,  Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    Lionel Bringuier & Nelson Freire - Live At The Royal Albert Hall
    Label: Bel Air Classiques   Catalog: 79 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel,  Albert Roussel,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Nelson Freire
    Conductor:  Lionel Bringuier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Lionel Bringuier & Nelson Freire - Live At The Royal Albert Hall [blu-ray]
    Label: Bel Air Classiques   Catalog: 479 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel,  Albert Roussel,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Nelson Freire
    Conductor:  Lionel Bringuier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Top 50 Favourite Classical Chillout Tunes
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94659 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Antonín Dvorák,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Klára Würtz,  Sara Crombach,  Wladislav Warenberg,  Alexander Goldenweiser  ... 
    Conductor:  Dirk Vermeulen,  Paavo Järvi,  Roy Goodman,  Gil Sharon  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prima La Musica,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Hanover Band  ... 
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  • 17.
    10 Classic Albums / Mischa Maisky [11-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001801402 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Charles Gounod,  George Frideric Handel,  Jean-Baptiste Lully  ... 
    Performer:  Mischa Maisky,  Pavel Gililov,  Daria Hovora,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 18.
    Karajan Adagio: Music To Free Your Mind
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001805202 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pietro Mascagni,  Johann Pachelbel,  Gustav Mahler,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Meyer,  Frank Maus,  Michel Schwalbé,  Karlheinz Zöller  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 19.
    50 Best Chillout Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 332942 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Gregorio Allegri,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Gerald Finley,  Juliette Hurel,  Emmanuel Pahud,  Christopher Warren-Green  ... 
    Conductor:  Maurice Handford,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Stephen Cleobury,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Ahn Trio,  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 20.
    Label: Somerset Entertainment   Catalog: 50841 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Richard Wagner,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Bettina Gregory,  Lloyd Swenson,  Lucinda Walker,  Zachary Rossi  ... 
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  • 21.
    Encore!
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 9863 Release Date: 11/20/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Fritz Kreisler,  Pablo de Sarasate,  César Cui,  Grazyna Bacewicz  ... 
    Performer:  Midori,  Robert McDonald
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  • 22.
    100 Best Chamber Music
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 972777 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Various,  Johann Pachelbel,  Henry Purcell,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Renaud Capuçon,  Emmanuel Pahud,  Natalie Clein,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Jordi Savall,  Daniel Barenboim,  Fabio Biondi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Nash Ensemble  ... 
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  • 23.
    Meditation: The Most Beautiful Classical Melodies
    Label: Marquis   Catalog: 81441 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Erik Satie,  Frédéric Chopin,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Susan Hoeppner,  Erica Goodman,  Robert Aitken,  Akira Eguchi  ... 
    Conductor:  Chosei Komatsu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Upper Valley Duo,  Duo Concertante
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  • 24.
    Widmung / Sergei Nakariakov
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 2564659589 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Fritz Kreisler,  Jean-Baptiste ". Arban,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Sergei Nakariakov,  Maria Meerovitch
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  • 25.
    The Blue Danube Waltz And Music For Strings / Leopold  Stokowski And His Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2392 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Alexander Borodin,  Niccolň Paganini,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
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