Gluck, Christoph Willibald von

BORN 2 Jul 1714, Erasbach, Oberpfalz (now part of Berching, Bayern) - DIED 15 Nov 1787, Wien
GRAVE LOCATION Wien: Zentralfriedhof, Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, Simmering (Gruppe 32 A, Nummer 49)

Gluck was the son of a forester. In 1717 his family moved to Bohemia. From an early age he was attracted to music and when he studied at the University of Prague he probably spent more time on music than on mathematics because he left without a degree.

In 1737 he went to Milan where he studied under Sammartini. His first opera "Artaserse" was performed at the Regio Ducal Teatro on 26 Dec 1741. He wrote more opera's and pieces for the Carnival season in Northern Italy.

In 1745 he moved to London to become house composer of the King's Theatre, but the theatre turned out to be shut because of the Jacobite Rebellion. He wrote two opera's in London before he went to Dresden. His work there was noticed by the court in Vienna where he was to set Semiramide riconosciuta by Metastasio to music. He did so successfully, but Metastasio hated the result and he soon left Vienna. In 1749 he travelled with the group of Mingotti and he received a venereal disease from the prima donna.

In 1750 he went back to Prague, where he married the 18 years old Maria Anna Bergin. His next station was Naples and then he finally settled in Vienna where he became musical director. He started writing comical opera's and in 1761 he staged the ballet "Don Juan" and in 1762 "Orfeo ed Euridice" followed. His new style was gaining popularity in France and he was contracted for six works by the Opera in Paris. The first of these was the controversial "Iphigénie en Aulide" (1774). Niccolò Piccinni was brought in from Paris to show the superioriry of opera from Naples and Paris was musically divided into two camps.

Gluck was composer to the imperial court and travelled between Paris and Vienna. After he suffered a stroke he introduced Salieri in Paris and returned to Vienna himself. After a second stroke he died in 1787 in Vienna.

Gluck was buried at the Katholischer Friedhof Matzleinsdorf in Vienna. In 1890 his remains were transferred to the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.

Related persons
• was teacher of Marie Antoinette, queen of France
• was a friend of Salieri, Antonio

5/10/1762Premiere of Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Empress Maria Theresia was present. Gaetano Guadagni was Orfeo, Marianna Bianchi was Amore and Lucia Clavereau was Euredice. [Maria Theresia, Erzherzogin von Österreich]
14/5/1763Premiere of Gluck's "Il trionfo di Clelia" at the Teatro Communale in Bologna. Antonia Maria Girelli was one of the singers. 
24/8/1769Premiere of a revised version of Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" in Parma. Giuseppe Millico was Orfeo, Felicita Suardi was Amore and Antonia Maria Girelli-Aquilar was Euridice. 
2/8/1774A revised version of "Orfeo ed Euridice" by Gluck is produced in Paris. Joseph Legros was Orfeo, Sophie Arnould was Amore and Rosalie Levasseur was Euredice. 
21/10/1861Gluck's "Alceste" is staged at the Opera in Paris with Pauline Viardot-Garcia singing. Berlioz had made adjustments to the opera and it was her last big success on the stage. In 1866 this version was produced again with Marie Battu singing. [Berlioz, Hector][Viardot-Garcia, Pauline]


The grave of Christoph Willibald von Gluck at the Zentralfriedhof, Vienna.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2005)


• Bauer, Werner T., Wiener Friedhofsführer, Genaue Beschreibung sämtlicher Begräbnisstätten nebst einer Geschichte des Wiener Bestattungswesens, Falter Verlag, Wien, 1991
• Budig, Robert S. et al, Ehrengräber am Wiener Zentralfriedhof, Compress Verlag Wien, Wien
Christoph Willibald Gluck - Wikipedia
Alceste (Gluck) - Wikipedia
Il trionfo di Clelia (Gluck) - Wikipedia
Orfeo ed Euridice - Wikipedia

Glyn, Isabella

Published: 03 Aug 2008
Last update: 18 Aug 2022