Like the great majority of 19th-century French composers, Charles Gounod (1818-1893) displayed little interest in the symphony. He was more strongly drawn to various kinds of vocal music: opera, choral music, and sacred and secular songs for voice and piano/organ. Far and away his greatest success was the opera Faust, an adaptation of the play by Goethe. Although it had a rather shaky start when it was premièred in Paris in 1859, Faust went on to become one of the most successful operas of the nineteenth century. Indeed, it was performed in Australia as early as 1864. Faust was the work which opened New York’s Metropolitan Opera House in 1883. Another work that brought Gounod’s name to prominence was the ‘Ave Maria’ – his adaptation of the Prelude No 1 from Das wohltemperierte Clavier by J S Bach. It remains a sentimental favourite.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra