Christoph Willibald Gluck

@Musicians, Timeline and Childhood

Christoph Willibald Gluck was a famous opera composer of the classical period

Jul 2, 1714

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Personal Details

  • Birthday: July 2, 1714
  • Died on: November 15, 1787
  • Nationality: German
  • Famous: Musicians, Composers
  • Spouses: Marianne Pergin
  • Childrens: Marianne
  • Universities:
    • Charles University in Prague

Christoph Willibald Gluck born at


Birth Place

Early Life & Childhood Christoph Gluck was born on July 2, 1714 to Alexander Johannes and Maria Walburga in Erasbach, Germany. A few years after his birth, the family moved to Bohemia in 1717. At a very young age, Gluck was introduced to music by way of the church choir. It is also speculated that he studied logic and mathematics in 1731 at the University of Prague, but failed to receive his degree for the same. And up until 1737, there are no records that talk about his whereabouts, as the accounts are very vague and ambiguous.Musical CareerGluck moved to Milan to study and gain practical knowledge of all the instruments under the guidance of G. B. Sammartini in 1737. He moved Sammartini with his sacred music and symphonies. Gluck was also taken aback by the vibrant operas and formed an association with opera houses, such as the Teatro Regio Ducal. In 1741, Gluck’s first opera ‘Artaserse’ was performed here. Gluck was also given the opportunity to perform the same opera for the open of the Milanese Carnival in 1742. Due to its raving success, he continued to compose operas for each of the next four Carnivals in Milan. He was later offered the post of house composer at London's King's Theatre in 1745. But due to the ‘Jacobite Rebellion’, the theatre was closed for a year. After four years, Gluck’s operas, ‘La caduta de'giganti’ and ‘Artamene’ were performed.The next year Gluck was bestowed with two great opportunities. The first was a commission to compose an opera for Dresden, performed by Pietro Mingotti's troupe. This was for the royal wedding between the Bavaria and Saxony families. The success of his work brought him to the attention of the Viennese court and he was selected to compose ‘Metastasio's Semiramide riconosciuta’ to celebrate Maria Theresa's birthday. He then continued to tour with Mingotti's troupe. After he left the troupe he joined another group in Prague. The second opportunity arose when he was asked to compose an opera for the Prague Carnival in 1750, called the ‘Ezio’. Then, in 1752, he was asked to perform ‘Metastasio's La clemenza di Tito’ for the ‘nameday celebrations’ of King Charles VII of Naples. He composed the famous aria ‘Se mai senti spirarti sul volto’ and was praised for the same by various musicians. When Gluck finally settled in Vienna, he became the ‘Kapellmeister’ in 1754. Christoph was bestowed with the honor of ‘Knight of the Golden Spur’ by Pope Benedict XIV. After he received this honor, Gluck started using the title "Ritter von Gluck" or "Chevalier de Gluck." He began to write ‘opéra comiques’ and with the collaboration of Gasparo Angiolini (choreographer), Gluck produced his revolutionary ballet, ‘Don Juan’. In 1774, Gluck’s influence in Paris started a huge controversy, where the town was divided into "Gluckists" and "Piccinnists” after the famous Italian composer, Niccolò Piccinni. After a period of brief turmoil, Antonio Salieri, Gluck’s protégé, collaborated with him on ‘Les Danaïdes’, which premiered on April 26, 1784.Important CompositionsGluck’s music style was criticized by a lot by people who still preferred traditional Italian compositions. Due to influences from various teachers and important musicians, his operas symbolized the beginning of modern, musical dramas that marked the end for ‘opera seria’ styles. Most of Gluck’s compositions were influenced by Italian sacred music. Apart from his major compositions, Gluck composed a few arias, solo motets, and chorals. He also composed 9 symphonies, 6 trio sonatas and 2 trio sonatas.Personal LifeWhen Gluck lived in Prague, he married the 18 year old daughter of a rich Viennese merchant on September 15, 1750. She was Maria Anna Bergin.DeathWhile rehearsing for ‘Echo et Narcisse’, Gluck suffered his first stroke after which he moved to Vienna. During his last years, he lost interest in composing for opera houses, despite countless offers. His health continued to deteriorate and he suffered three more strokes. On November 15, 1787, Gluck suffered another fatal stroke and passed away a few days later. He was interred at the ‘Matzleinsdorfer Friedhof’ before being moved to a tomb in the Vienna Zentralfriedhof as the former cemetery was converted into a park in 1923. Important Works OperasDemofoonte, 1743Ezio, 1750Le cinesi, 1754La fausse esclave,1758Le diable à quatre, ou La double métamorphose, 1759Le cadi dupé, 1761Orfeo ed Euridice, 1762La rencontre imprévue, 1764Telemaco, ossia L'isola di Circe, 1765Alceste, 1767Le feste d'Apollo, 1769Paride ed Elena, 1770Iphigénie en Aulide,1774Armide, 1777Iphigénie en Tauride,1779Echo et Narcisse, 1779 BalletsLes amours de Flore et Zéphire, 1759Le naufrage, 1759La halte des Calmouckes, 1761Don Juan, ou Le festin de Pierre, 1761Citera assediata, 1762Alessandro (Les amours d’Alexandre et de Roxane), 1764Sémiramis, 1765Iphigénie, 1765 Piano SongsKlopstocks Oden und Lieder beym Clavier zu Singen, 1785An den Tod ("O Anblick der Glanznacht"), 1792"Minona lieblich und hold", 1795Siegsgesang für Freie ("Laut, wie des Stroms donnernder Sturz"), 1795

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