Christoph Willibald Gluck

Gluck, Christoph Willibald von

Christoph Willibald von Gluck (krĬs´tôf vĬl´ēbält fən glŏŏk), 1714–87, German-born operatic composer. Gluck revolutionized opera by establishing lyrical tragedy as a unified vital art form. He studied music at Prague and later in Italy with G. B. Sammartini. His first 10 operas, in the Italian style, were successfully performed in Italy in the years 1741–45. In 1752, after sojourns in England and Germany, Gluck became conductor of Prince Hildburghausen's private orchestra in Vienna, and for the next decade he directed musical productions at the Viennese court. With his opera Orfeo ed Euridice (1762), inspired by Greek legend, Gluck introduced an entirely new kind of opera, in which dramatic, emotional, and musical elements were artistically fused for the first time. To Ranieri Calzabigi, the librettist of Orfeo and also Alceste (1767), Gluck gave much of the credit for his new operatic style. In 1773, Gluck went to Paris, where his first serious opera with a French libretto, Iphigénie en Aulide (1774), was performed. That and subsequent productions created much controversy between supporters of Gluck and proponents of traditional Italian opera. His last important work, Iphigénie en Tauride (1779), is often considered his masterpiece, and it firmly established his reputation. Eventually, Gluck's emphasis on dramatic impact and musical simplicity became incorporated into the French operatic tradition, and his influence on later composers was considerable.

See his collected correspondence and papers, ed. by H. and E. H. Mueller von Asow (tr. 1962); biographies by M. Cooper (1935) and A. Einstein (tr. 1936); study by E0rnest Newman (1895, repr. 1964).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Christoph Willibald Gluck: Selected full-text books and articles

Gluck: An Eighteenth-Century Portrait in Letters and Documents
Patricia Howard.
Clarendon Press, 1995
Collected Correspondence and Papers of Christoph Willibald Gluck
Hedwig Mueller Von Asow; E. H. Mueller Von Asow; Stewart Thomson; Christoph Willibald Gluck.
St. Martin's Press, 1963
Eighteenth-Century Music in Theory and Practice: Essays in Honor of Alfred Mann
Mary Ann Parker.
Pendragon Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "A Bach Borrowing by Gluck: Another Frontier" begins on p. 187
Makers of Opera
Kathleen O'Donnell Hoover.
H. Bittner, 1948
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Gluck"
The Age of Enlightenment, 1745-1790
Egon Wellesz; Frederick Sternfeld.
Oxford University Press, 1973
Librarian’s tip: "Gluck" begins on p. 42 "Gluck and French Operatic Principles" begins on p. 226 and "The Character of Gluck's Paris Opeas" begins on p. 232
The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Arthur Elson.
Houghton Mifflin, 1927 (Enlarged edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "Gluck"
The World of Great Composers
David Ewen.
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962
Librarian’s tip: "Christoph Willibald Gluck: 1714-1787" begins on p. 74
Composers on Composers
John L. Holmes.
Greenwood Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "Christoph Gluck (1714-1787)" begins on p. 68
Composers of Yesterday: A Biographical and Critical Guide to the Most Important Composers of the Past
David Ewen; David Ewen.
H. W. Wilson, 1937
Librarian’s tip: "Christoph Willibald Gluck 1714-1787" begins on p. 173
A History of Music
Theodore M. Finney.
Harcourt Brace, 1935
Librarian’s tip: "Gluck" begins on p. 355
Essays on Opera
Egon Wellesz; Patricia Kean.
Dennis Dobson, 1950
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Three Lectures on Opera"
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera
John Warrack; Ewan West.
Oxford University Press, 1996 (3rd edition)
A Pictorial History of Music
Paul Henry Lang; Otto Bettmann.
W. W. Norton, 1960
Librarian’s tip: "Christoph Willibald Gluck: Reformer of Opera" begins on p. 64
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator