Charles-François Gounod (June 17, 1818 – October 18, 1893) was a French composer, best known for his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette.
Gounod was born in Paris, the son of a pianist mother and a draftsman father. His mother was his first piano teacher. Under her tutelage Gounod first showed his musical talents. He entered the Paris Conservatoire where he studied under Fromental Halévy. He won the Prix de Rome in 1839 for his cantata Ferdinand. He subsequently went to Italy where he studied the music of Palestrina.
Gounod wrote his first opera, Sappho, in 1851, but had no great success until Faust (1859), based on the play by Goethe. This remains his best-known work. The romantic and highly melodious Roméo et Juliette (based on the Shakespeare play), premiered in 1867, is also performed and recorded regularly. The charming and highly individual Mireille of 1864 is admired by connoisseurs.
From 1870 to 1875 Gounod lived in England, becoming the first conductor of what is now the Royal Choral Society. Much of Gounod's music from this time is vocal or choral in nature.
Later in his life, Gounod wrote much religious music, including a musical setting of Ave Maria based on the first prelude from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach.
Gounod died in 1893 in Saint-Cloud, France.
Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette (1873) was used as the theme music for the 1950s television programme Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Charles Gounod: Works. Charles GOUNOD: The Website !. Retrieved on March 31, 2005.