Charles-Francois Gounod born on June 17, 1818 is most loved for Ave Maria and two famous and important operas Faust and Romeo et Juliette. He was born and raised in Paris the son of an artist and a mother who was a piano teacher. His career was to be the priesthood, but he changed his mind and began his life composing exquisite music.
In 1855 Gounod wrote the Saint Cecilia Mass which gave him recognition as a composer. Gounod received his inspiration from the music of Johann Sabastian Bach and pianoforte study. Gounod penned Sapho his first opera in 1851. It was a failure. It was not until 1959 and his opera Faust that he became successful. Faust is one of the most repeatedly staged operas around the world. Romeo et Juliette was well loved, but was never the same success as Faust. Most of Gounod's other operas are unknown.
One of his best loved compositions is The Funeral march of a Marionette (1872). This piece is the opening credit to Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Gounod played piano to Ferdinando de Cristofaro's mandolin in public situations and was well received. Later in life Gounod resumed his religious tendencies to write sacred and religious music. His Pontifical Anthem written in 1869 became the authorized national anthem of Vatican City (1949). Gounod was inducted as a Grand Officer of the Legion d'honneur (1888). In 1893 Gounod was writing a requiem for his grandson when he died of a stroke. Gounod was married to Anna Zimmerman daughter of Pierre Zimmermann one of his music teachers.