Lot 9
  • 9

Gluck, Christoph Willibald

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Gluck, Christoph Willibald
  • Letter signed ("Votre tres humble et tres obeisant serviteur Chevalier Gluck[paraph]") to Valadier, in French, declining to set the latter's libretto for the opera "Cora"
  • paper
explaining that his situation does not allow him to accede to his request, noting that he is absolutely incapable of undertaking such a task, as it is always an uncertain enterprise, thorny, and subject to a thousand inconveniences, complimenting him nevertheless on his piece, which he notes is rich in tableaux and in dramatic events, observing that he has made a good debut with Cora, which is his first dramatic work, stating that if he continues to exercise his talents in this sphere he will be assured of the greatest success, thanking him finally for the good opinion he has of him and expressing the wish that he find another composer who will match fine music with his beautiful opera, [the libretto of which] which he returns to him [not included here]

...je suis absolument incapable d'entreprendre tel ouvrage que ce soit, qui exige de l'aplication; et pour ce qui est d'en charger quelqu'autre sous ma direction, c'est toujours une entreprise fort incertaine, epineuse, et sujette à mille inconveniens. D'autant plus que celuy, que je pourrois avoir en vûe est fort chargè d'autres - ouvrages, et ne pourroit pas même - accepter cette commission...

2 pages, plus integral, 4to (22.5 x 17.6cm), annotation to integral, possibly by recipient ("Glouk"), [Vienna,] 1 May 1785, light spotting and browning 


Mueller von Asow, p. 204

Catalogue Note

Gluck was the most important and most international of German opera composers before Mozart, credited with bringing about the reform of eighteenth-century opera seria. Following his return to Vienna in the autumn of 1779, however, he had virtually retired, and was in the habit of rejecting most operatic texts that were submitted to him. By 1785, the year of the present letter, Gluck was in ailing health, having suffered a number of debilitating strokes; a final one on 14 November 1787 would lead to his death the following day. Valadier's libretto for Cora, based on the novel Les Incas by Marmontel, was not the first on the same subject to be sent to Gluck: some five years earlier he had rejected a libretto by Baron von Dalberg with the same title. In the event, Valadier's four-act libretto was set by Méhul, and first performed at the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris on 15 February 1791. Although Valadier was a prominent author of libretti, his first names remain unknown.