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Overwhelmed by Work on “Faust,” “Sapho,” and Other Projects

$720 net
Item: 22572
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GOUNOD, CHARLES. (1818-1893). French composer. ALS. (“Ch. Gounod”). 2¼ pp. 8vo. Paris, October 5, 1859. On Direction de la Orphéon stationery. To Anatole. In French with translation.

I only returned to Paris yesterday: I am sorry that I cannot give any thought to the melody you asked me for, but right now I am excessively busy; in addition to an enormous backlog that two months of absence have added to all of my business, I have considerable work to do for my publisher: Faust to edit right away into a large orchestra score; same work to do on Sapho; a piece promised to the same Choudens on some of the Faust motifs; a piece for the same Choudens for  my father-in-law Zimmerman’s revised Encyclopedia; the Orpheon, whose work I am picking up; Pasdeloup to whom I must deliver music for his concerts; Michot whom I must see for the role of Faust that he will play soon; meetings to organize for a book I am planning on grand opera. This is work to me unless I don’t know what that is.

As for the Spring Song, I absolutely want to keep it: I have ulterior projects for that melody and cannot let you have it for the collection you mentioned to me and to which I would have been very happy to contribute.  

A thousand regrets, dear Anatole, and as many friendly regards…”

Charles Gounod

Charles Gounod

Gounod’s early love of sacred music inspired him to pursue a religious vocation, but soon after entering a Carmelite monastery in 1847 to prepare for the priesthood, he left his studies and turned away from composing church music to seek fame and fortune in opera. Sapho, his first opera, debuted in 1850 and nine years later Gounod secured his place in French music with his popular opera based on Goethe’s Faust, a “warhorse” to this day.

Our letter discusses Gounod’s work on the orchestra score for Faust in advance of its 1859 publication by the firm headed by Antoine de Choudens (1825-1888). Also mentioned is French tenor Pierre-Jules Michot (1832-1896), who, in 1867, created the role of Romeo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and prominent French conductor Jules Étienne Pasdeloup (1819-1887). In addition to these demands on his time, from 1852 to 1860 Gounod directed the renowned choral society, the Orphéon de la Ville de Paris, on whose letterhead he penned our letter, which was written less than a year after his marriage to Anna Zimmerman, daughter of Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmerman (1785-1853), Gounod’s former piano professor at the Conservatoire, best remembered for his Encyclopédie du pianist, referred to in our letter.

Though Gounod continued to write operas, oratorios, masses and other works such as his 1860 Spring Song (Chanson de printemps), none of his later compositions rivaled the popularity of Faust.

Written on a folded stationery sheet. Age toned at the edges with a few chips in the margin, otherwise in very good condition.

Overwhelmed by Work on “Faust,” “Sapho,” and Other Projects

$720 net • item #22572

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