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Charles Gounod

(1818—1893) French composer, conductor, and organist


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(b Paris, 1818; d St‐Cloud, 1893).

Fr. composer, conductor, and organist. Won Grand Prix de Rome 1839; impressed by Rome and made special study of Palestrina. Became org. at Paris church and studied for priesthood but eventually decided to devote himself to comp. Wrote several operas from 1851 but had no real success until Faust in 1859, which became and remained one of the most popular of all operas. Later operas were less successful, though Roméo et Juliette survives and the delightful La Colombe has been rediscovered. Also wrote many choral works and lived in Eng. 1870–5, becoming first cond. of what is now Royal Choral Soc. His oratorios La Rédemption and Mors et vita were comp. for the Birmingham and Norwich Fests. of 1882 and 1885. Gounod's mus. has considerable melodic charm and felicity, with admirable orchestration. He was not really a master of the large and imposing forms, in this way perhaps being a Fr. parallel to Sullivan. Works incl.:

operas:

Sapho

(1851);

La Nonne sanglante

(1854);

Le Médecin malgré lui

(1858);

Faust

(1859);

La Colombe

(1860);

Philémon et Baucis

(1860);

La Reine de Saba

(1862);

Mireille

(1864);

Roméo et Juliette

(1867);

Cinq Mars

(1877);

Polyeucte

(1878);

Le Tribut de Zamora

(1881).

orch.:

sym. No.1 in D (1855), No.2 in E♭ (c.1854);

Petite Symphonie

in B♭, for 9 wind instrs. (1885).

oratorios:

La Rédemption

(1868–81);

Mors et Vita

(1885).

cantatas:

Marie Stuart

(1837);

Gallia

(1871).

church music:

Messe a tre

(1841);

Messe solennelle

(1849);

Messe solennelle de Ste Cécile

(1855);

Messe à Jeanne d' Arc

(1887); three Requiems; Stabat Mater, Te Deum, Magnificat, etc.

misc.:

Funeral March of a Marionette

(for pf., 1872, orch. 1879);

Méditation sur le premier prélude de S. Bach

, pf., vn. or vc., org. or vc. ad lib (1853, being 1st prelude of Bach's ‘48’ with counterpoint melody by Gounod. In 1859 this was arr. as a solo song, Ave Maria, mélodie religieuse adaptée au premier prélude de J. S. Bach); many songs.

Subjects: Music.


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