Music Composers

Charles Gounod-Part 8

It was, however, not until 1859 that his great success Faust was first produced. The master had been greatly attached to the poem for many years. Even during the glorious days at the Villa di Medici in Rome we find him studying the Goethe version of the legend. This remarkable opera was first performed in America in 1863. A recent book upon opera estimated that it is sung throughout the world more than any five operas combined. At the Paris Grand Opera Faust has been given 1,500 times, and no less than $30,000 has recently been spent there for new scenery for this opera alone. This seems quite astonishing when it is remembered that the first productions of the opera were very far from being successful. Faust is said to have earned over three million francs for the producers. Performances of the opera were prevented in Rome as the government prohibited presentations of "his satanic majesty" on the stage.

At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, Gounod, who detested fighting, sailed for England together with his wife and two children. He conducted concerts at the Crystal Palace, concerts of the Philharmonic, and concerts of the Gounod Chorus (later the Royal Choral Society). While residing in England he is said to have written many of the very much sung scred songs, including The King of Love My Shepherd Is, There is a Green Hill Far Away, Nazareth, etc.

In 1875 Gounod returned to Paris, where he had been made a member of the Institut de France. Here he devoted himself to the composition of two sacred works. The Redemption (first produced in Birmingham, England, 1882), and Mors et Vita (first produced in Birmingham in 1885).

The Etude Magazine November 1912





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