Music Composers

Charles Gounod-Part 6

His residence in Rome made a profound impression upon him and led him to make a thorough study of the old ecclesiastical music of Palestrina, whom he always compared with Michelangelo. Of them he said, "Both have the same simplicity, even humility of manner; the same seeming indifference to effect, the same scorn for methods of education. There is nothing artificial or mechanical about them. The soul wrapped in ecstatic contemplation of a higher world, described in humble and submissive language the sublime visions that pass before its eyes. The art of the two masters is a sort of sacrament, whose outward and visible sign is but a transparent veil stretched between man and the divine and living truth."

On his way back from Rome Gounod met Mendelsohn and other famous musicians, and became acquainted with the radical departures represented in the innovations of Schumann.

Arriving in Paris Gounod was appointed to the post of organist at Les Missions Etrangeres and apparently had the customary difficulties of the organist of to-day since the Abbe felt it necessary to remind him that the parishioners did not think his style entertaining - whereupon Gounod reminded the Abbe that he had come to improve the musical taste of the parishioners and not to consult it. Gounod, however, was devoted to the church and took a course in theology for two years. It was at  one time expected that he would enter the priesthood. After five years of comparative oblivion the name of Gounod comes to the public notice through the successful performance of his Messe Solonelle in London. His first attempt at a three-act opera Sappho was produced at the Grand Opera House in Paris in 1851. It was not, however, a success owing to a weak libretto.

The Etude Magazine November 1912





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