Charles Gounod in 1859, the year of the premiere of Faust.
Charles Gounod, in full
Charles-françois Gounod (born June 17, 1818, Paris,
France—died Oct. 18, 1893, Saint-Cloud, near Paris), French
composer noted particularly for his operas, of which the
most famous is Faust.
Gounod’s father was a
painter, and his mother was a capable pianist who gave
Gounod his early training in music. He was educated at the
Lycée Saint-Louis, where he remained until 1835. After
taking his degree in philosophy, he began to study music
with the Bohemian composer Anton Reicha. On Reicha’s death
Gounod entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied
under Fromental Halévy and Jean-François Lesueur. Three
years later his cantata Fernand won him the Prix de Rome for
music, an award that entailed a three-year stay in Rome at
the Villa Medici.
In Italy Gounod devoted a
considerable amount of his attention to the works of
Giovanni da Palestrina, an Italian Renaissance composer.
From Rome he proceeded to Vienna, where a mass and requiem,
composed in Italy, were performed in 1842 and 1843.
Returning to Paris, he passed through Prague, Dresden, and
Berlin and met Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig.
In Paris, Gounod became
organist and choirmaster at the Church of the Missions
Étrangères, and for two years he mainly studied theology. In
1846 he entered the seminary of Saint-Sulpice but in 1847
decided against taking holy orders. A requiem and a Te Deum
that he had started writing the previous year remained
unfinished, and he turned to composing for the operatic
The reception of his
earliest operas, Sapho (1851) and La Nonne sanglante (1854;
“The Bloody Nun”), was not very enthusiastic, despite
favourable reviews by the composer Hector Berlioz. In his
Messe de Sainte-Cécile (1855) he attempted to blend the
sacred with a more secular style of composition. An
excursion into comic opera followed with Le Médecin malgré
lui (1858; The Mock Doctor), based on Molière’s comedy. From
1852 Gounod worked on Faust, using a libretto by M. Carré
and J. Barbier based on J.W. von Goethe’s tragedy. The
production of Faust on March 19, 1859, marked a new phase in
the development of French opera. This work has continued to
overshadow all of Gounod’s subsequent stage works, including
Philémon et Baucis (1860), La Colombe (1860; “The Dove”),
the fairly successful Mireille (1864), based on a Provençal
poem by Frédéric Mistral, and Roméo et Juliette (1867).
In 1852 Gounod had become
conductor of the Orphéon Choral Society in Paris, for which
he wrote a number of choral works, including two masses.
From 1870 he spent five years in London, formed a choir to
which he gave his name (and which later became the Royal
Choral Society), and devoted himself almost entirely to the
writing of oratorios. Gallia, a lamentation for solo
soprano, chorus, and orchestra, inspired by the French
military defeat of 1870, was first performed in 1871 and was
followed by the oratorios La Rédemption and Mors et Vita
(Life and Death) in 1882 and 1885. He was made a grand
officier of the Legion of Honour in 1888.
Gounod’s melodic vein is
unmistakably original, though often oversentimental. He knew
how to write for the voice and was also a skillful
orchestrator; but in his operas his sense of musical
characterization, though rarely devoid of charm, is often
excessively facile, and the religiosity displayed in his
sacred music is too often superficial. His Meditation (Ave
Maria) superimposed on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude in C
Major (from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I) illustrates
both his inventiveness and ease as a melodist and his
naïveté in matters of style. The operas Faust, Mireille, and
Le Médecin malgré lui show his melodic talents at their
Gounod late in his career.
The French composer Charles
Gounod composed a work which for more than half a century was
the staple ot every opera house in the world. Although Faust is
no longer fashionable, and Gounod's reputation has dwindled to
that of a relatively minor figure, his influence during his
lifetime was considerable and his craftsmanship and elegance
give enduring pleasure.
Born in Paris in 1818, Gounod
studied at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1839 he won the coveted
Prix de Rome and during the resulting three-year stay in Rome
steeped himself in the sixteenth-century choral music sung in
the Sistine Chapel. Palestrina was a particular revelation to
him, and sacred music was to constitute a large, though now
largely forgotten part of Gounod's output. Between 1846 and 1849
Gounod actually studied for the priesthood and throughout his
life he vacillated between the spiritual and the carnal.
In 1842 Gounod visited Vienna,
Berlin and Leipzig, where he met Mendelssohn — a composer he
resembles in many ways. Back in Paris he became the organist at
the Missions Etrangeres. He married in 1852 and started to
compose operas, initially unsuccessful works in the style of
Meyerbeer and then lighter and happier works such as Le medecin
malgre lui in 1858.
But it was with Faust in 1859
that Gounod struck gold. The enduring popularity of the work is
due above all to the extraordinary richness of melodic
invention: from Marguerite's sparkling "Jewel Song" to Faust's
fervent "Salut, demeure chaste et pure" there is scarcely an
unmemorable tune in the whole opera.
The operas Mireille (1864) and
Romeo et Juliette (1867) were also successful, but his stay in
England between 1871 and 1874 was a mixed blessing. He was
favoured by Queen Victoria and found an audience for his
oratorios La redemption and Mors et vita; but he also came under
the sway of the eccentric and notorious singer Georgina Weldon.
Gounod's infatuation drew him into a turbulent, hysterical
world. She was often involved in lawsuits, even attempting to
blackmail Queen Victoria to obtain funds for her singing
academy. Gounod returned to Pans in 1874, but although he lived
on for two decades his rich period of creativity was over. Only
the Petite symphonic (Little symphony) for wind instruments has
a youthful freshness that reminds the listener of Gounod's
The melody that Gounod wrote to go with the Prelude from Book One of
Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier began as an improvisation made one
evening after dinner with friends. The arpeggiated chords of the
prelude work as the accompaniment to the cantilena melody, not
unlike a song by Mendelssohn or a Bellini aria. Gounod's
father-in-law wrote it down and not only had a violinist and choir
perform it for Gounod, but also sold it to a publisher. The
Méditation, as the first published version for violin and piano was
named, was an instant success, with publishers rushing out various
arrangements for different instruments.
How the Latin text of "Ave Maria"
ended up attached to the melody is the real story. The composer,
with his penchants for romance and drama, would frequently become
infatuated by young, married women. According to the family story,
Gounod was at one time enchanted by a young woman by the name of
Rosalie. He found a poem by Alphonse de Lamartine, Vers sur un
album, which he set to the Méditation's melody, thinking it would be
an appropriate gift for Rosalie. Although the text is innocent
enough, Rosalie's mother deemed the gift inappropriate. She politely
suggested the "Ave Maria" text as an alternative. Taking the hint,
Gounod made minor changes to adjust the melody to the text, and a
classical music hit was born.
Ave Maria (based on J.S. Bach's
Prelude in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I)
Performed by the Eaken Piano Trio
John Eaken, Violin
Nancy Baun, Cello
Gloria Whitney, Piano
Omo Bello sings Ave Maria, Gounod
Omo Bello - soprano
Orchestre Philharmonic de Radio France
Conductor - Mikko Franck
Collegium Musicum, Copenhagen:
Toke Lund Christiansen, flute.
Bjørn Carl Nielsen, Gert Herzberg, oboe.
Niels Thomsen, Jørgen Misser Jensen, clarinet.
Søren Elbo, Klaus Tônshoff, basset horn.
Per McClelland Jacobsen, Leif Lind, Henning Hansen, Kjeld Rud
Pedersen, french horn.
Asger Svendsen, Klaus Fredriksen, bassoon.
Frederikke Svendsen, double basson.
Michael Schønwandt, conductor.
Charles Gounod - Messe Breve No. 5
Messe brève No. 5 aux séminaires in C
Intèrprets: I Vocalisti Chamber Choir; Tobias Götting (orgue).
Charles Gounod Messe brève no. 7 in
Charles Gounod Messe brève no. 7 in C
Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei
Kirchenchor St. Jakob
Orgel: Hermann Seitz
Leitung: Tibor Tasnádi
21.10.2012 DE-93413 Cham
Pfarrkirche Sankt Jakob
Stadtpfarrer Dieter Zinecker
Der Cäcilienverein Cham wurde am
20. Mai 1910 gegründet.
Der liturgische Dienst stand im Schaffen des Vereins immer an erster
Unser Kirchenchor besteht derzeit aus 15 Sängerinnen und Sängern.
Neue Sängerinnen und Sänger sind herzlich willkommen.
Charles Gounod Requiem
Introito,Kyrie y Pie Jesu del Requiem
de 1893 de Charles Gounod
Charles Gounod, Faust (2004)
Director: Götz Friedrich
Conductor: Patrick Fournillier.
Jonas Kaufmann, Faust ; Elena Mosuc, Marguerite ; Carlo Colombara,
Méphistophélès ; Oliver Widmer, Valentin ; Judith Schmid, Siébel ;
Katharina Peetz, Dame Marthe ; Peter Kálmán, Wagner.
Faust - Charles Gounod - 1995
Faust - Giuseppe Sabbatini
Méphistophélès - Samuel Ramey
Marguerite - Deborah Riedel
Valentin - Jeffrey Black
Siébel - Martine Mahé
Marthe - Claire Larcher
Wagner - Fabrice Raviola
Conductor - John Nelson
Orchestra - Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Chorus - Grand Théâtre de Genève
Faust, Gedda, Freni, Soyer,
Mackerras, Paris 1975
Live performance from Paris,
Faust - Nicolai Gedda
Marguerite - Mirella Freni
Mephistopheles - Roger Soyer
Valentin - Tom Krause
Wagner - Jean-Louis Soumagnas
Siebel - Renée Auphan
Dame Marthe - Jocelyne Taillon
Angel - Catherine Bresson
Conductor - Sir Charles
Charles Gounod: "Walpurgisnacht
Choreographer: George Balanchine
New York City Ballet 1993
FAUST - Walpurgis Night (Maximova-Yagoudin-Vlasov,
Ekaterina Maximova (Bacchante), Shamil
Yagoudin (Bacchus) & Stanislav Vlasov (Satyr)
Music: Charles Gounod
Choreography: Leonid Lavrovsky
Soldiers Chorus- Faust
French chorus presents the Soldiers
Chorus; Faust, Charles Gounod.
Charles Gounod - La valse de
l'opéra 'Faust' / Waltz
"Faust", Act II: Waltz
Faust Final Scene (Freni, Gedda &
Mirella Freni as
Maguerite singing the roof off the Paris Opera in
1975. With Nicolai Gedda as Faust and Roger Soyer as
Méphistophélès. Charles Mackerras conducting. The
production was by Jorge Lavelli.
Faust final trio - Caruso-Farrar-Journet
& McCormack-Melba-Sammarco (1910)
Here's an interesting comparison: the
Faust final trio (Alerte! Alerte! Ou vous ete perdus!) with Enrico
Caruso, Geraldine Farrar, and Marcel Journet, 12 January 1910 Victor
recording, and the final trio with John McCormack, Nellie Melba, and
Mario Sammarco, 11 May 1910 HMV recording
Galina Vishnevskaya and Ivan
Petrov~The Church Scene-Faust ,Gounod
Galina Vishnevskaya as Marguerite and
Ivan Petrov as Mephistopheles sings "Seigneur, daignez permettre
..." / "Church Scene" (in Russian) from the opera "Faust," Gounod.
Conductor is the great Boris Khaikin, Bolshoi Theater in 1960 (?)
Charles Gounod - Faust (1859) -
Ballad for Marguerite - "Il etait un roi" (Victoria de los Angeles)
Maria Callas - Air des bijoux -
Jewel song - Faust Gounod
Maria Callas (1923-1977)
Air des bijoux - jewel song
"Les grands seigneurs...Que vois-je là.....Ah je ris..."
Faust de Gounod (1818-1893)
Enregistré en mai 1963 - Recorded
in may 1963
Maria Callas - Il était un roi de
Thulé - Faust - 1963
Montserrat Caballe " Ballade du Roi
de Thule - Air des bijoux" Faust - 1970
Gounod: Il était un roi de Thulé
(Faust) - Régine Crespin
Il était un roi de Thulé
Charles Gounod (1859)
Jésus Etcheverry, Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, 1961
Dmitri Hvorostovsky "Avant de
quitter ces lieux" Faust
FAUST CHURCH SCENE (Freni
From the Paris Opera 1975.
With the sublime Mirella Freni as Marguerite and Roger Soyer
as Méphistophélès. Charles Mackerras conducting. The
production was by Jorge Lavelli.
Valentine's aria from Faust by
Ghibong Kim, baritone,
Kwiyoum Lee, piano
Recorded at NEIU
Recital Hall, Chicago
October 4, 2014
Viideo/Audio - Chicago Video Reporter
Gounod - Romeo et
Juliette (Charles Mackerras)
Romeo - Roberto Alagna
Juliette - Leontina Vaduva
Mercutio - Francois Le Roux
Cont Capulet - Peter Sidhom
Stephano - Anna Maria Panzarella
Friar Laurence - Robert Lloyd
Tybald - Paul Charles Clarke
Gertrude - Sarah Walker
Duke of Verona - David Wilson Jonson
Gregorio - Jeremy White
Paris - Richard Halton