Johann Christoph Vogel was born on March 18th, 1756 in a family of musicians from Nuremberg (his father was the instrument maker Michael Vogel). He first studied music with the virtuoso violonist Wilhelm Gruber (1729-1796) then with Joseph Riepel (1703-1782) in Regensburg. With the former, he discovered the works by Johann Adolphe Hasse (1699-1783) and Carl Heinrich Graun (1704-1759), at that time considered as the most important composers of Italian operas in Germany. In 1776, he moved to Paris where he was employed by the Duke of Montmorency as a horn player, then by the Duke of Valentinois (Honoré III, Prince of Monaco). He became a great admirer of Gluck (1714-1787) after hearing his operas and he would try later to imitate their musical style.
Despite a certain success, his situation remained difficult and he suffered from alcoholism. At the café “Aux Porcherons” he met Philippe Desriaux, the librettist of his two operas La Toison d’or (the Golden Fleece) and Démophon.
Whereas La Toison d’or, very gluckist in its esthetics, met little success, his second collaboration with Desriaux was more successful. Vogel turned away from the imitation of Gluck and seemed to find his own way. Démophon was favorably welcomed by the public when it was first performed at the Opéra on September 22nd, 1789. Twenty-four performances were given between 1789 and 1792, but above all, the audience liked the overture and asked for it twice. Unfortunately the composer did not witness the success of his opera as he died, aged 32, on June 1788, probably of a fever due to his alcoholism. An anecdot about this: whenever his friends advised him to moderate his comsumption of alcohol, he would answer: “Is it with lemonade that one finds the inspiration to write a Démophon overture?”
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