Charles Gounod

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Charles Gounod
Charles Gounod (1890) by Nadar.jpg
Charles Gounod, photograph by Nadar (1890)
Born
Charles-François Gounod

(1818-06-17)17 June 1818
Died18 October 1893(1893-10-18) (aged 75)
Spouse(s)Anna Zimmerman (m. 1852)
Signature
Gounod signature.png

Charles-François Gounod ( /ɡˈn/ ; French:  [ʃaʁl fʁɑ̃swa ɡuno] ; 17 June 1818 17 or 18 October 1893) [1] [2] [3] [4] was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria, based on a work by Bach, as well as his opera Faust . Another opera by Gounod still performed is Roméo et Juliette .

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

Ave Maria is a popular and much-recorded setting of the Latin prayer Ave Maria, originally published in 1853 as Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de S. Bach. The piece consists of a melody by the French Romantic composer Charles Gounod that he superimposed over an only very slightly changed version of the Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846, from Book I of J.S. Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, published in 1722.

Johann Sebastian Bach German composer

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Art of Fugue, the Brandenburg Concertos, and the Goldberg Variations as well as for vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.

Contents

Gounod died at Saint-Cloud in 1893, after a final revision of his twelve operas. His funeral took place ten days later at the Church of the Madeleine, with Camille Saint-Saëns playing the organ and Gabriel Fauré conducting. He was buried at the Cimetière d'Auteuil in Paris.

Saint-Cloud Commune in Île-de-France, France

Saint-Cloud is a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 9.6 kilometres from the centre of Paris. Like other communes of Hauts-de-Seine such as Marnes-la-Coquette, Neuilly-sur-Seine or Vaucresson, Saint-Cloud is one of the wealthiest towns in France, ranked second in average household income among communities with 10- to 50-thousand tax households. In 2006, it had a population of 29,981.

La Madeleine, Paris Church in arrondissement of Paris, France

L'église de la Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church occupying a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The Madeleine Church was designed in its present form as a temple to the glory of Napoleon's army. To its south lies the Place de la Concorde, to the east is the Place Vendôme, and to the west Saint-Augustin, Paris.

Camille Saint-Saëns French composer

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. His best-known works include Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (1863), the Second Piano Concerto (1868), the First Cello Concerto (1872), Danse macabre (1874), the opera Samson and Delilah (1877), the Third Violin Concerto (1880), the Third ("Organ") Symphony (1886) and The Carnival of the Animals (1886).

Biography

Charles Gounod in 1859, the year of the premiere of Faust. Charles Gounod 1859 - Huebner 1990 plate2.jpg
Charles Gounod in 1859, the year of the premiere of Faust.

Early life

Gounod was born in Paris, the son of a pianist mother and an artist father. His mother was his first piano teacher. Gounod first showed his musical talents under her tutelage. He then entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied under Fromental Halévy and Pierre Zimmerman (he later married Anne, Zimmerman's daughter). In 1839 he won the Prix de Rome for his cantata Fernand. In so doing he was following his father: François-Louis Gounod (d. 1823) had won the second Prix de Rome in painting in 1783. [4] During his stay in Italy, [5] Gounod studied the music of Palestrina and other sacred works of the sixteenth century; he never ceased to cherish them. Around 1846-47 he gave serious consideration to joining the priesthood, but he changed his mind before actually taking holy orders, and went back to composition. [6] During that period he was attached to the Church of Foreign Missions in Paris.

Paris Capital city of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.

Conservatoire de Paris music school

The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795. Currently known as the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (CNSMDP), it is situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France. The Conservatoire offers instruction in music and dance, drawing on the traditions of the "French School". Formerly the consrvatory also included drama, but in 1946 that division was moved into a separate school, the Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique (CNSAD), for acting, theatre and drama. Today the conservatories operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Communication and are associated with PSL Research University. The CNSMDP is also associated with the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Lyon (CNSMDL).

Fromental Halévy French composer

Jacques-François-Fromental-Élie Halévy, usually known as Fromental Halévy, was a French composer. He is known today largely for his opera La Juive.

Musical career

In 1854 Gounod completed a Messe Solennelle, also known as the St. Cecilia Mass . This work was first performed in its entirety in the church of St. Eustache in Paris on Saint Cecilia's Day, 22 November 1855; Gounod's fame as a noteworthy composer dates from that occasion.[ citation needed ]

<i>St. Cecilia Mass</i> 1855 choral composition of Charles Gounod

St. Cecilia Mass is the common name of a solemn mass in G major by Charles Gounod, composed in 1855 and scored for three soloists, mixed choir, orchestra and organ. The official name is Messe solennelle en l’honneur de Sainte-Cécile, in homage of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. The work was assigned CG 56 in the catalogue of the composer's works.

Gounod late in his career. Charles Gounod portrait older years.jpg
Gounod late in his career.

During 1855 Gounod wrote two symphonies. His Symphony No. 1 in D major was the inspiration for the Symphony in C composed later that year by Georges Bizet, who was then Gounod's 17-year-old student. In the CD era a few recordings of these pieces have emerged: by Michel Plasson conducting the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, and by Sir Neville Marriner with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

Symphony in C (Bizet) early work by the French composer Georges Bizet

The Symphony in C is an early work by the French composer Georges Bizet. According to Grove's Dictionary, the symphony "reveals an extraordinarily accomplished talent for a 17-year-old student, in melodic invention, thematic handling and orchestration." Bizet started work on the symphony on 29 October 1855, four days after turning 17, and finished it roughly a month later. It was written while he was studying at the Paris Conservatoire under the composer Charles Gounod, and was evidently a student assignment. Bizet showed no apparent interest in having it performed or published, and the piece was never played in his lifetime. He used certain material from the symphony in later works, however. There is no mention of the work in Bizet's letters, and it was unknown to his earlier biographers. His widow, Geneviève Halévy (1849–1926), gave the manuscript to Reynaldo Hahn, who passed it along with other papers to the archives of the conservatory library, where it was found in 1933 by Jean Chantavoine. Soon thereafter, Bizet's first British biographer Douglas Charles Parker (1885–1970) showed the manuscript to the conductor Felix Weingartner, who led the first performance in Basel, Switzerland, on 26 February 1935.

Georges Bizet French composer

Georges Bizet, registered at birth as Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire.

Michel Plasson French conductor

Michel Plasson is a French conductor.

Fanny Mendelssohn, sister of Felix Mendelssohn, introduced the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach to Gounod, who came to revere Bach. For him The Well-Tempered Clavier was "the law to pianoforte study...the unquestioned textbook of musical composition". It inspired Gounod to devise a melody and superimpose it on the C major Prelude (BWV 846) from The Well-Tempered Clavier Bk. 1. To this melody in 1859 (after the deaths of both Mendelssohn siblings), Gounod fitted the words of the Ave Maria , resulting in a setting that became world-famous. [7]

Fanny Mendelssohn 19th-century German pianist and composer

Fanny Mendelssohn, later Fanny [Cäcilie] Mendelssohn Bartholdy and, after her marriage, Fanny Hensel, was a German pianist and composer. She composed over 460 pieces of music. Her compositions include a piano trio and several books of solo piano pieces and songs. A number of her songs were originally published under her brother, Felix Mendelssohn's, name in his opus 8 and 9 collections. Her piano works are often in the manner of songs, and many carry the name Lieder für das Pianoforte.

Felix Mendelssohn 19th-century German composer, pianist and organist

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music. His best-known works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is also his. Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.

<i>The Well-Tempered Clavier</i> Collection of keyboard music by J.S. Bach

The Well-Tempered Clavier, BWV 846–893, is a collection of two sets of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, composed for solo keyboard by Johann Sebastian Bach. In Bach's time Clavier (keyboard) was a generic name indicating a variety of keyboard instruments, most typically a harpsichord or clavichord – but not excluding an organ either.

Gounod wrote his first opera, Sapho , in 1851 at the urging of his friend, the singer Pauline Viardot; it was a commercial failure. He had no great theatrical success until Faust (1859), derived from Goethe. This remains the composition for which he is best known; and although it took a while to achieve popularity, it became one of the most frequently staged operas of all time, with no fewer than 2,000 performances of the work having occurred by 1975 at the Paris Opéra alone. [8] The romantic and melodious Roméo et Juliette (based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet ), premiered in 1867, is often in the repertoire of the world's opera houses but has never come close to matching Faust's popular following. Mireille , first performed in 1864, has been admired by connoisseurs rather than by the general public. The other Gounod operas are rarely performed.

Caricature from Punch, 1882. Cf gounod cartoon.png
Caricature from Punch, 1882.

From 1870 to 1874 Gounod lived in England, at 17 Morden Road, Blackheath. A blue plaque has been put up on the house to show where he lived. [9] He became the first conductor of what is now the Royal Choral Society. Much of his music from this time is vocal, although he also composed the Funeral March of a Marionette in 1872. (This received a new lease of life in 1955 when it was first used as the theme for the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents .) He became entangled with the amateur English singer Georgina Weldon, [10] a relationship (platonic, it seems) which ended in great acrimony and embittered litigation. [11] Gounod had lodged with Weldon and her husband in London's Tavistock House.

He performed publicly many times with Ferdinando de Cristofaro, a mandolin virtuoso living in Paris. Gounod was said to take pleasure in accompanying Cristofaro's mandolin compositions with piano. [12]

Later life

Later in his life Gounod returned to his early religious impulses, writing much sacred music. His Pontifical Anthem (Marche Pontificale, 1869) eventually (1949) became the official national anthem of Vatican City. He expressed a desire to compose his Messe à la mémoire de Jeanne d'Arc (1887) while kneeling on the stone on which Joan of Arc knelt at the coronation of Charles VII of France. [4] A devout Catholic, he had on his piano a music-rack in which was carved an image of the face of Jesus.

He was made a Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur in July 1888. [4] In 1893, shortly after he had put the finishing touches to a requiem written for his grandson, he died of a stroke in Saint-Cloud, France.

Compositions

Media

See also

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References

  1. Harding, James. Gounod, Stein & Day, 1973.
  2. Biography at charles-gounod.com
  3. Slonimsky, Nicholas, ed. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians , 7th ed.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , 5th ed. 1954.
  5. Gounod In Italy and Germany by Charles Gounod https://books.google.ca/books?id=hIpBwFHH71QC&pg=PA388&lpg=PA388&dq=gounod+in+italy&source=bl&ots=Zd-4HtfAYB&sig=XJ4eQyn1pIY9YxSv2QC_FGZAbH8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiD37XI0MXWAhVG5IMKHTRXBxgQ6AEIXzAO#v=onepage&q=gounod%20in%20italy&f=false
  6. Cooper M. French Music from the death of Berlioz to the death of Fauré . Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1951.
  7. Joan Benson: Bach and the Clavier Archived December 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. Giroud, V. French Opera: A Short History. Yale University Press, 2010.
  9. "Plaque № 5286". Openplaques.org. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  10. Weldon G. My Orphanage and Gounod in England. London, 1882.
  11. Huebner S. The Operas of Charles Gounod. Oxford. Oxford University Press, 1990.
  12. Philip J. Bone, The Guitar and Mandolin, biographies of celebrated players and composers for these instruments, London: Schott and Co., 1914.

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