Gluck, Christoph Willibald#
Gluck, Christoph Willibald, b. Erasbach in der Oberpfalz (Germany), July 2, 1714, d. Vienna, Nov. 15, 1787 (called himself "Ritter Gluck" - literally Knight or Sir Christoph W. Gluck - after being awarded the papal Order of the Golden Spur), composer and opera reformer. Studied in Italy (among others under G. Sammartini in Milan), in 1741 debut as opera composer in Milan, in 1745/46 stay in London. First assignment for the Vienna Imperial Court in 1748 ("Semiramide riconosciuta" for Empress Maria Theresa's birthday and the opening ceremony of the reconstructed Burgtheater). Ended his years of travel by settling in Vienna in 1750; employed as musical director by the Prince of Saxony-Hildburghausen (until 1761) and from 1754-1764 musical director of the court theatres.
In his innovatory works ("Orfeo", both "Iphigenie" operas and "Alceste") G. attempted to overcome the rigid concept of the Metastasian opera (recitative = action, Aria = presentation of feelings) and tried to make the music subordinate to the text, to create a better flow of action in opera. Most of Gluck's 47 great operas, however, are composed according to Metastasio's scheme. On account of Prince Kaunitz's francophile theatre policies and G.'s long stay in Paris (from 1773-1775) many of G's works were written in French, esp. the "reform operas" "Iphigenie en Aulide", "Orphee et Eurydice" and "Alceste" as well as "Armide" and numerous works of opera comique. The contrast between G.'s French reform operas and the new Italian direction, represented by N. Piccini, erupted into a conflict which became known as the "buffoons' debate".
Works#47 dramatic works, songs (7 Klopstock Odes), ballets (Don Juan, Alessandro, exact number unknown), 2 trio sonatas, overtures, De profundis. - Edition: Saemtl. Werke, commissioned by the Institute fuer Musikforschung, 1951 ff.
Literature#K. Hortschansky, Parodie und Entlehnung im Schaffen C. W. G., 1973; A. Einstein, C. W. G., 1987; N. de Palezieux, C. W. G., 1988; G. Buschmeier, Die Entwicklung von Arie und Szene in der franz. Oper von G. bis Spontini, 1991; P. Howard, G., 1995.