Music Composers

Charles Gounod-Part 3

At the time of the master's birth Gounod's parents resided in a modest little house in the section of Paris near the venerable Abbey of St. Germain des Pres. The artist father and musician mother fighting valiantly against commercialism and mediocrity upon one side and poverty upon the other had a very happy home nevertheless. The father's artistic conscience was so highly developed that he would work with extravagant disregard for the value of his time in order to have his art creations worthy. His wife in fact was compelled to argue with him to send them to market when there was real need of money in the home. Cleaning his palettes and even finishing some of the pictures herself she gained an artistic insight which at the death of her husband in 1823 enabled her to continue the little art class which had been the mainstay of the family. There were two children, Charles Francois and his brother ten years older. The little mother struggled valiantly on for years, teaching drawing and music, from early morning until late night, in order to secure the right support and educational advantages for her sons. So beautiful was her maternal devotion that we may well pause for a while and draw back the curtain of years to look upon a little scene which reveals the spirit of musical enthusiasm which must be at the base of the successful musical career of every successful student. Gounod in his own story of his life tells of his first visit to the opera together with his mother and his older brother:

"I was nearly wild with impatience and delight. I remember I could not eat for excitement, so that my mother said to me at dinner, 'If you don't eat your dinner I won't let you go to the opera.' and forthwith I began to consume my victuals, in a spirit of resignation at all events."

The Etude Magazine November 1912





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