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On the contrary, as we may see from the quarrel which ensued between Tchaikovsky and Vladimir Stasov when the latter spoke disparagingly of Gounod in The background to this quarrel was as follows: in February , Tchaikovsky had lost interest in a projected opera Othello , for which Stasov had provided him with a detailed scenario a few months earlier.

He now asked Stasov to propose a new subject, and the latter suggested Alfred de Vigny's historical novel Cinq-Mars , with The Cardinal as the title for the opera de Vigny's novel deals with the intrigues of Cardinal Richelieu. However, Tchaikovsky rejected this subject outright, explaining that he wanted something more modest and intimate.

He also added that it would be awkward to tackle the same subject as in Gounod's opera Cinq-Mars , which had been premiered in Paris on 1 March [N. In the field of opera I do not know of any other living composer — with the exception of Wagner — who could compete with Gounod" [2].

Stasov , not mincing his words as usual, wrote back saying that Gounod's music was banal, and this so infuriated Tchaikovsky that he ceased all collaboration with the mentor of the "Mighty Handful" for a while [3]. Although he eventually only sketched out one scene of this projected opera Romeo and Juliet , he had been very enthusiastic about the idea and was not afraid of comparisons with Gounod's opera or Bellini 's for that matter because in his view the latter had "corrupted and distorted Shakespeare beyond recognition" [4].

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Significantly, in May , in order to help the co-operative opera company which the baritone Ippolit Pryanishnikov had recently set up in Kiev and which was on tour in Moscow , Tchaikovsky agreed to conduct three operas for them without any remuneration. One of these operas was Faust — yet another sign of his appreciation of Gounod's masterpiece [6].

Gounod: Requiem (La Madeleine)

It is interesting that Laroche , in one of his tributes to the composer after his death, observed that Tchaikovsky in his works had traced "a middle path between Gounod and Schumann ", combining the crowd-pleasing "outward brilliance" of the former with the "inner warmth" of the latter [7].

However, Laroche was somewhat biased against Gounod's music, and Tchaikovsky certainly found more than just "outward brilliance" in Faust , as is clear from his discussion of Christine Nilsson's first appearance as Marguerite in Moscow references are listed below. I knew this work before, having studied the piano-vocal score, and also from a performance I saw in Moscow a long time ago, and I did not have a high opinion of it by any means, but there, suddenly — o wonder!

Charles Gounod - Tchaikovsky Research

I was moved to tears. I don't know: maybe it was Shakespeare , who, in spite of all the librettists' cuts, still makes himself felt, or perhaps Gounod's music really is particularly good, or of course it may have been my mood at the time, thanks to which all these factors combined acquired a fortuitously magic effect.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that for a long time I had not enjoyed myself so much at the opera as on this occasion. It is also worth pointing out that Gounod is one of the few composers in our times who write not in compliance with preconceived theories, but as their feeling suggests to them.

Besides, he is an inveterate admirer of Mozart , and that demonstrates the integrity and innocence of his musical nature. Faust was controversial, as many critics believed it was far more sophisticated as compared to Gounod's prior works.

Absence, CG 326 (Gounod, Charles)

One critic said he doubted Gounod even composed it. However, when challenged to a duel, the critic withdrew his statement.


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From Gounod lived in England. In his years there and in the period following his return to France, Gounod wrote a compelling number of pieces music, especially religious music, but never again attained the kind of success he experienced in the s and '60s. Among his more compelling and imaginative late works is the Petite Symphonie, scored for nine instruments. A few days after he completed the composition of a requiem for his grandson, Gounod passed away of a stroke in October , in Saint Cloud, France. Charles Gounod. Visit Steinway. Find a retail location to see a Steinway piano in person.

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