– Gluck and the death of Euridice

C.W. von Gluck

Stories from ancient Greec mythology have inspired writers and composers through the ages. Amongst them Christopo Willibald von Gluck (1714-1787). He was originally from Bohemia and moved to Prague in 1731 to dedicate his life to music. Not something his father was proud of. Then in 1736 he oves to Milan, following composition lessons with Giovanni Battista Sammartini. In 1741 his first opera was performed, Artaserse. Because this was a great success, many Italian cities wanted him to write for them as well. Even London found him which led to him discovering Händel and his music. After 1746 he was bandmaster of a travelling music opera company. In 1752 he moves again, to Vienna this time, where he was appointed Composer at the Court of Mary Theresa. Here he died in 1787.

Orfeo ed Euridice

Gluck mainly composed operas and was known for creating so called “reform operas”. They were a reaction to the serious Italian operas from those days, the opera seria, in which the storyline was hardly important and the virtuosity of the voices was dominant.

During his time in Vienna, Gluck discovered additional possibilities. For him the ideal situation in art would be achieved when all art forms would be equally contributing to the realization of the dramatic line in the opera. “Orfeo ed Euridice” was an attempt to realise this idea.

In Vienna he was not successful with this kind of opera, but in Paris the appreciation was completely different. Here they already had learned to love the French “tragédie-lyrique”, which resembled the reform opera more or less.

“Che farò senza Euridice” from the opera “Orfeo ed Euridice” probably has become his most renowned and appreciated aria. Today I would like to highlight this piece as it was my mothers favorite. She passed away on the 22nd of August 2019. She got to know this aria through the interpretation by her sister Dora, who had a warm alto voice. Gérard Lambert and myself are very happy that our interpretation of this aria, with its recitative, has become our most viewed and appreciated clip on YouTube!

To honour my mother who would have reached the age of 92 on the 24th of August this year, I’d like to present that video, recorded during our Concert Quattuor on 27 september 2014 in the Sint-Nicolas church of La Roche-en-Ardenne.

I am convinced that this great music will touch your hearts as much as it does ours, both through its music and its words and – as I hope – our interpretation.

Che farò senza Euridice
Dove andrò senza il mio ben.
Euridice, o Dio, risponde
Io son pure il tuo fedele.
Euridice! Ah, non m´avvanza
più socorso, più Speranza
ne dal mondo, ne dal ciel.

What will I do without Euridice
Where will I go without my beloved one.
Euridice, oh God, answer
I am entirely your loyal one.
Euridice! Ah, it doesn´t give me
any help, any hope
neither from this world, nor from heaven.

Enjoy the week

Marijke Persijn