Charles François Gounod (June 17, 1818 – October 18, 1893) was a French composer, best known for his opera Faust.
Gounod was born in Paris and learned music with his mother as a child. 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.
Caricature from Punch, 1882
Gounod wrote his first opera in 1851, but had no great success until Faust (1859), based on the play by Goethe. This remains his best known work, although the opera Roméo et Juliette (based on the Shakespeare play), premiered in 1867, is also performed and recorded regularly. Later in his life, Gounod wrote mainly religious music, including the song Ave Maria, which was based on the first prelude from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach.
Gounod died in 1893 in Saint-Cloud in France. This biography is published under the GNU Licence