18th Century Blog Play List: Gluck

I love having music playing while I am working so every now and then I am going to highlight some music that you might enjoy listening to as well! I call it an 18th Century Blog Play-List, because I am oh-so-creative!

The musical adventure will start with Christoph Willibald Gluck, who pioneered a new sound for Opera around the mid 18th century. He worked in Vienna, but moved to Paris and was supported in France. Marie Antoinette was always passionate about music and did her part of supporting music. In Paris, Gluck exhibited a new sound for opera that was a fusion of dramatic sincerity and intensity of feeling.

Like a good modern day emo song! Start out mellow, then remember your heart is broken and scream, and end it off with the intense finale!

He was quite groundbreaking for the time and wrote 8 operas for the Paris stage. He knew what he was doing! His opera Alceste was performed in Paris 23 April 1776.

The story is that King Admeto of Thessaly falls ill and it is said he will only regain health if someone makes a sacrifice of their lives to the gods. No one is willing to give up their lives, except for Admeto's Queen, Alceste. The King regains health and finds out his queen is on her way to her doom. He prays that she is spared, but the gods refuse.

King and Queen have tearful goodbyes, and the King decides that he will follow her and die with her. Once he made this choice, the gods decide to spare Queen Alceste, for the Kings generous decision to sacrifice himself.

The player below lets you hear 30 second clips from all the songs on the album, so breeze through l'opéra and let me know what you think!


  1. my favorite music to work out to or to have just blaring throughout my home during the day....any classical!

    LOVE IT!

  2. Oh gosh--I love Gluck, :D . I love music history and am glad to hear this is going to be a regular feature on your blog :D !

    Gluck wrote quite a few operas based on classical mythology, my favorite of which is probably Orphee et Eurydice

    Can we expect a post on the rivalry in Paris between the Gluckists and Piccinists ?

  3. I adore Gluck! And one of my favorite French sopranos just release an album featuring his work (along with Mozart & Haydn). It's been on my mp3 player non-stop:

    Patricia Petibon ~ Amoureuses

  4. Wow that was uber-creative of you! So does that mean Marie's ipod would have been a pink nano?

  5. I hope all of you have got the fabulous recordings of "Armide", "Orphée..." and "Iphigénie en Teuride" all with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre on Deutsche Grammophon, they're performed just like Marie-Antoinette would have heard them...and simply delightful!

    I must also recommend Grétry's (another M-A favorite) "La Caravane de Caire" from 1783, also with Minkowski, recorded in 1991 and re-released earlier this year, really dazzling performance with a fiew excerpts from "Le Jugement de Midas" from 1778. Really splendid music wich will take you all the way back to the ancien regime!

  6. Oh, i loved "Amoureuses" you should get Patria Petibon's first recital "french baroque arias"

  7. I am so glad this post had such a great response! Do not fret! More 18th Century Play List to come!

    And I LOVE all of your suggestions!!

  8. He was one of Marie~Antoinettes favorites, she did have impecable taste! I wonder if she would have any Kanye West on her pink (diamond encrusted) nano!?!