June 17, 1818
October 18, 1893 in Saint-Cloud (near Paris)
Also known as:
His full name was Charles-François Gounod; he is especially known for his operas, particularly "Faust," and the song "Ave Maria." In Paris, he became organist at the Church of the Missions Étrangères and in 1852 became conductor at the Orphéon Choral Society. In 1888, Gounod became an officer of the Legion of Honour. He founded the Gounod Choir which was later renamed as Royal Choral Society.
Type of Compositions:
Gounod received early piano lessons from his mother. He pursued a degree in philosophy at Lycée Saint-Louis before shifting his attention to music. He studied with Anton Reicha and then entered the Paris Conservatory after Reicha's death. Among his teachers at the conservatory were Jean-François Lesueur and Fromental Halévy. In 1839, his composition "Fernand" won him the Prix de Rome. While in Italy, Gounod explored the polyphonic music of the 16th century, particularly the works of Giovanni da Palestrina. His early operas where based on Meyerbeer's style.
His most famous work is the opera "Faust." Other works include "Sapho," "La Nonne sanglante," "Le Médecin malgré," "Philémon et Baucis," "La Colombe," "Mireille," "Roméo et Juliette," "Gallia," "La Rédemption," "Mors et Vita" and "Petite Symphonie."
At one point, Gounod considered becoming a priest. In Italy he met the mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot and composer Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel who introduced him to Felix Mendelssohn. Gounod visited the Mendelssohn's in Leipzig, Germany in 1843.
Listen to Gounod's "Ave Maria" courtesy of YouTube.