Lived 1818–1893
Mostly in Paris
Best Known For F aust, Roméo et Juliette, Ave Maria, Songs, St Cecilia Mass
Similar To Meyerbeer, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Halévy


W e’ve probably heard a few arias from his opera Faust; we’ll certainly know his Ave Maria, based on Bach’s C Major Prelude, and maybe a few of his songs; and if we’re wind players, we may have enjoyed contributing to his delightful 1888 Petite Symphoniefor wind octet. But beyond that? Gounod is a composer whose currency has devalued steeply from those late Victorian days when he sold his oratorio Mors et Vitato the music publisher Novello for 100,000 francs.

But already, even then, the critics were sharpening their pens. In 1893, the year of Charles Gounod’s death, George Bernard Shaw complained that most probably his eyesight had been “damaged by protracted contemplation of the scarlet red...