CRISTOPH WILLIBALD GLUCK was born at Weidenwang, in Bohemia, in 1714. He studied in a Jesuit school at Komotau, where he learned something of the clavier, the organ, the violin, the 'cello, and singing. At the age of eighteen he went to Prague, where he gave lessons and played at rustic gatherings. Four years later he came to the notice of Prince Lobkowitz in Vienna, and through that prince he became known to Count Melzi, who took him to Milan for lessons with Sammartini.
Gluck's first opera was brought out at Milan in 1741. Although in the conventional style, or perhaps because of that fact, it was popular enough, and resulted in his obtaining many commissions, A London trip in 1745 was not successful, because Handel held the public notice. Visits to Hamburg and Dresden brought Gluck at last to Vienna, which he made his home. Yet he continued to make trips, which ranged from Copenhagen to Naples. At Rome the Pope made him a Chevalier of the Golden Spur; and for this reason he became known as "Ritter von Gluck."
Many of his works at this period were on texts by Metastasio. These were poetic enough at times, but always cast in the conventional mould of the day. Even in setting these, however, Gluck began to show a gradual departure from ordinary models and a vein of originality. Such works as his "Telemacco" and "Il Re Pastore" contained hints of growing individual genius, and the overture of the latter proved especially effective. Gluck was also successful in light comedies, such as "La Rencontre Imprevue." But now he turned to more serious paths, with Calzabigi as librettist.
The first example of Gluck's new style was "Orfeo ed Euridice," which appeared in 1762. There was still some degree of conventional melodic utterance, which may be seen even in the famous solo "I have lost my Eurydice." This is so smooth in character that it might equally well have been set to the words, "I have found my