According to The New Penguin Dictionary of Music
, Charles [François] Gounod was a French composer, pupil of Halévy and others at the Paris Conservatory, where he won the "Rome Prize" and so spent 3 years in Rome; afterwards church organist in Paris. At one time intended to become a priest. Had great success with opera "Faust", 1857. Also conductor; first conductor of what is now the Royal Choral Society, during the years 1870-75 spent in London. Later concentrated on religious music, e.g. oratorio "The Redemption". Other works include opera "Romeo and Juliet" and twelve other operas; 9 Masses and other church music; many songs; 3 symphonies; several miscellaneous pieces including a "Meditation" on the first prelude of Johann Sebastian Bach
's "The Well-Tempered Clavier" (the so-called "Ave Maria"), and the "Funeral March of a Marionette". Cultivated an immediately effective style, often chromatically inclined, which has declined in favour since his death.