1787 — Christoph Willibald Gluck dies

Most famous for his operas, Gluck was an Austrian who first came to prominence as a composer in Italy. Later, he moved to Paris, where his works came to synthesise elements of the Italian and French operatic styles, invigorating the form. One of the most important elements of his approach was to diminish the importance of the singers in favour of a greater concentration on the actual story being related.

His most famous opera is probably Orfeo ed Euridice, first performed in 1762, which showed early moves in his reformist direction. Later works, such as Alceste (1767) and Paride ed Elena (1770), were even more innovative. At the time of his death, Gluck had created 35 full-length operas, plus a number of shorter works and ballets. The composer most directly influenced by him was probably Antonio Salieri, but his reach is great – Mozart, Berlioz and Wagner, among others, all cited him as an influence on their work.

Referenced in:

Decomposing Composers — Monty Python