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Charles François Gounod
1818 - 1893
France
Picture
C.F. Gounod
Charles Gounod (18/06/1818 / 18/10/1893) a French (born in Paris) composer of church music, choral and orchestral works, chamber music, songs, etc. Pupil of his father in law Pierre Joseph Guillaume Zimmermann.
Source:Grove's dictionary of music and musicians
Messe de requiem
Period:Early Romanticism
Composed in:1842
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
This Messe de requiem was first perfomed 2 November 1842 in Vienna.
Gallia
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1871
Musical form:cantata
A funeral cantata for soprano, chorus, orchestra and organ.
Source:Grove's dictionary of music and musicians
Messe breve pour les morts
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1873
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:11´32"
Label(s):BNL 112947
Messe breve pour les morts, for choir and organ (1873)
1.Requiem aeternam 4´12"
2.Sanctus 1´23"
3.Pie Jesu 2´53"
4.Agnus Dei 3´04"
total time 11´32"
Source:booklet of cd BNL 112947 (2007)
Contributor:Pentti Ruokonen
A requiem for chorus and orchestra.
Source:Grove's dictionary of music and musicians
This might be an early version of the 1893 Requiem
Messe funebre
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1883
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:9'47''
Label(s):BNL 112947
Messe funebre for two choirs and organ (1883)
1.Kyrie 2´59"
2.Sanctus 1´19"
3.Pie Jesu 2´11"
4.Agnus Dei 3´18"
total time 9´47"
Source:booklet of cd BNL 112947 (2007)
Contributor:Pentti Ruokonen
Mors et Vita
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1885
Musical form:oratorium
Text/libretto:Mors: Latin mass; Vita: Bible verses
Duration:ca.100'
Label(s):EMI classics CDS 7 54459 2
Gounod wrote this oratorium for the Birmingham Festival. It is for 4 soloists, chorus, organ and large orchestra.
It is divided into three parts:
1. Mors
2. Judicium
3. Vita
The first part Mors is actually a Requiem:
- Prologus
- Introitus & Kyrie
- A Custodia
- Sequentia (Dies Irae)
- Offertorium
- Sanctus
- Pie Jesu Domine
- Agnus Dei / Lux Aeterna
- Epilogus
Mors et vita, a sacred trilogy dedicated to Pope Leo XIII., was also produced for the first time in Birmingham at the Festival of 1885. This work is divided into three parts, "Mors", "Judicium", "Vita". The first consists of a Requiem, the second depicts the Judgment, the third Eternal Life. Although quite equal, if not superior to The Redemption, Mors et vita has not obtained similar success.
This oratorium was dedicated to Pope Leo XIII (1810 - 1903), several years before his funeral.
Picture
Pope Leo XIII
(dedicatee)
Requiem
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1893
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:36'08''
In memory of:his grandson Maurice
Label(s):Claves CD 50-9326
Arion ARN 38443
He leaves Rome " the serene, the pacifying " for Vienna where musical life, theatrical or symphonic, is prosperous. He goes, for the first time, to a representation of the "Enchanted Flute", buids up relations with influential artists and conducts, during the winter of 1842-43 , two of his works, a Mass and a Requiem, in the Karlskirche. In Berlin, he finds Fanny Hensel who introduces him to her brother, who welcomes him by these words: " Oh! It's you the madman my sister spoke to me about"! With his Gewandhaus orchestra, Mendelssohn has him him to his Scottish Symphony, and reveals to him, on the organ of the Thomaskirche, the compositions of Bach. He judges his Requiem of Vienna " worth of Cherubini " and advises him to write symphonic music. Mendelssohn's work will stay for Gounod " the most precious of models." Stroked while composing a Requiem in the memory of a grandson, Gounod dies in Saint-Cloud on October 17, 1893. National burial takes place at the Madeleine, where, according to his wish, a Gregorian mass is sung. Gounod will remain forever the musician of love " whose immense sigh goes away to get lost in infinity."
Deeply moved by the death of his grandson Maurice, Gounod took up his pen once again in his old age. He wrote the first measures of his Requiem for soloists, chorus and orchestra on 21 March 1891 and completed the work at the beginning of 1893. The aged composer did not live to hear the Requiem's premiere during Holy week in 1894. The work was performed again in October of the same year in a ceremony which served as a sort of official tribute in the presence of Gounod's family, representatives from politics and numerous well-known musicians, including Ambroise Thomas and Giuseppe Verdi.
In order to facilitate the understanding of this composition, Henri Büsser, Gounod's devoted and zealous student, prepared a number of different versions of the postumous Requiem. Büsser's last edition is the version with four soloists and chorus accompanied by a string quintet, harp and organ. We believe that this version most closely matches the composer's intentions, his ideal of sacred music, the sicere, honest and contemplative nature of his religious music.
What is most impressive about this magnificient composition (which, like Fauré's Requiem, ignores the terrors of the final judgement and the horrors of deat"? The "Introit", "Kyrie" and its unending, imposing repetitions of a theme which crescendos and decresendos over an pedal point on C, this is certainly the image of eternity, the path to eternal light which Gounod aspired to follow during his waning years. The "Dies Irae" does not begin with a stormy eruption typical of the romantic but is marked by a haunting, rhythmic, mysterious motive. Yhe most terrifying verses about horror, death and judgement are set to the work's most beautiful passages, serene, celestial, as if the heavens were opening: the "Recordare", sung by a soprano and taken up by the chorus.
Everything is melodious. tranparent, confident and calm in this coposition filled with consolation and light. The mystical, sensual, unadorned "Benedictus" is sung like a 'berceuse'. The "Pie Jesu" and the unexpected chromaticism of its imploring, contemplative phrases is reminiscent of Franz Liszt. The "Agnus Dei" is filled with such celestial inspiration that one must listen to it with ones eyes closed. It is a slow, unending 'berceuse', as if Gounod were inviting all of mankind to follow him on the glorious road to eternity on the borders of silence.
On the morning of 15 October 1893, Gounod, although feeling fatigued, went to church with his faithful companion Henri Büsser. After lunch he sat down to put the finishing touches on the piano arrangement of the exquisite "Bendictus". His wife found him with his head "... held up by his pipe resting on the table", bent over the open score of the Requiem. Gounod never regained consciousness; he died three days later on the morning of 18 October with a crucifix in his hands.
Author:André Charlet, translated by: Mark Manion