The Classical Era

mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Christoph Willibald Gluck

(1714 - 1787)


Born in Bohemia, Gluck was one of nine children of a forester. The family's itinerant existence was not to Gluck's liking, and at the age of 13, denied parental support for his musical ambitions, he ran away to Prague, earning his keep by playing at rural dances and singing in churches. In time his father recognized Gluck's love of music and gave him some support. At the age of 21 he was employed as a musician to Prince Melzi in Vienna. Following the Prince's marriage in 1737 the household, including Gluck, moved to Milan.

This was a wonderful opportunity for the young composer, who had been spellbound by Italian opera in Prague. He became a pupil of the composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini, and after four years of study wrote his first opera, Artaserse, to a libretto by Pietro Mctastasio. It opened the season at the Teatro Regio Ducal in Milan and was an instant success. Commissions for operas flooded in.

After three hectic years Gluck left Italy for England in 1745. The second of the Jacobite revolts had left London subdued, but Gluck was nonetheless commissioned by the Italian Opera of London to create two operas — in direct competition with

projects by Handel. Gluck's operas were relatively successful, though Handel commented that Gluck knew no more about counterpoint than his cook. Before Gluck left London he took part in two concerts playing the glass harmonica, a popular fairground instrument. Tapping 20 or more partly filled water glasses, he captivated his audience with the delicacy of sound.

In 1746 he took up an appointment to conduct Pietro Mingotti's Italian opera

company, and travelled with them in Austria and Denmark over the next few years. He settled in Vienna in 1750 and married a successful merchant's daughter, Maria Anna Bergin. The Empress Maria Theresa appointed him Kapellmeister in 1754, a post he held for more than 15 years. During this time Gluck developed his ideas for the reform of opera. Orfeo ed Euridice (first performed, in Italian, in 1762) exemplifies these ideas, chief among them that music should be subjugated to the demands of the text. In addition, Gluck gave a more central role to the chorus. In the introduction to Akeste, another "reform" opera, Gluck made explicit his revolutionary theories. First performed in an Italian version in Vienna in 1767, Akeste, like Orfeo, has a classical theme. The chorus plays a particularly significant part and is given a character of its own, representing the people of Thessaly. Greatly revised, the opera was presented in Paris in a French version in 1776: both versions were hugely successful.

Gluck moved to Paris in 1773. It was here that he composed Iphigenie en Aulide in 1774, Armide in Mil, and Iphigenie en Tauride in 1778, all of which show his increasing mastery of dramatic form. He eventually retired to Vienna, -where he lived in some luxury until his death.


Christoph Willibald Gluck



Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714 -1787)


Orfeo Melody
De Profundis

Orfeo ed Euridice




Iphigenie en Aulide


Iphigenie en Tauride





Jean-Baptiste Regnault
Cupid and Psyche















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