Born in Paris to a painter father and musician mother, Charles Gounod had early ambitions to become a great composer, after he heard Rossini's Otello and Mozart's Don Giovanni when he was 18. After his initial dedication to religious music, at the age of 30 he turned to the theater, writing opera and other theater music, as well as choral and religious works. Berlioz wrote about one of his early masses: "Everything there is new and distinguished . . . . Gounod proves that one can expect everything from him." Gounod enjoyed great success in his lifetime, crowned by the lasting acceptance of his opera Faust, produced in 1859.

He wrote the Petite Symphonie for successful flutist Paul Taffanel and the wind ensemble he had founded. Written in classical form, this work illustrates Gounod's superb gifts for melody and motion. It was first performed in Paris in 1885. --James Huff 17:59, March 27, 2007 (EDT) (from the program notes of The Claremont Winds, submitted with permission)