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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On Gluck
By Hector Berlioz (1803–1869)
 
From Berlioz’s Autobiography

OF all the ancient composers, Gluck has, I believe, the least to fear from the incessant revolutions of art. He sacrificed nothing either to the caprices of singers, the exigencies of fashion, or the inveterate routine with which he had to contend on his arrival in France, after his protracted struggles with the Italian theatres. Doubtless his conflicts at Milan, Naples, and Parma, instead of weakening him, had increased his strength by revealing its full extent to himself; for in spite of the fanaticism then prevalent in our artistic customs, he broke these miserable trammels and trod them underfoot with the greatest ease. True, the clamor of the critics once succeeded in forcing him into a reply; but it was the only indiscretion with which he had to reproach himself, and thenceforth, as before, he went straight to his aim in silence. We all know what that aim was; we also know that it was never given to any man to succeed more fully. With less conviction or less firmness, it is probable that, notwithstanding his natural genius, his degenerate works would not have long survived those of his mediocre rivals now completely forgotten. But truth of expression, purity of style, and grandeur of form belong to all time. Gluck’s fine passages will always be fine. Victor Hugo is right: the heart never grows old.  1
 
 
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