Charles Gounod, French composer, 1818-1893
Charles Gounod was born in Paris into a musical family. As a student at the Conservatoire de Paris he won France's most prestigious musical prize, the Prix de Rome. His studies took him to Italy, Austria and then Prussia, where he met Felix Mendelssohn, whose advocacy of the music of Bach was an early influence on him. He wrote twelve operas, of which the most popular has always been "Faust" (1859). He composed a large amount of church music, many songs, and popular short pieces including his famous "Ave Maria". Few of Gounod's works remain in the regular international repertoire, but his influence on later French composers was considerable.