French composer Charles Gounod received his early musical training from his mother, and did not take any formal study until after completing a degree in philosophy. Initially, he studied under Anton Reicha, before attending the Paris Conservatoire.
Gounod's compositional style was influenced by his studies of Renaissance composer Palestrina, and subsequently by his travels in Germany. In fact, his operatic compositions are considered to be more German in style than his French contemporaries, something which would later influence a young Georges Bizet.
It took Gounod several attempts to gain success with his operatic compositions. His first true and sustained success was Faust in 1852, based on Goethe's tragedy, which has retained its popularity since the first performance. So lasting was the impact of Faust, in fact, that many of Gounod's other operas have fallen into obscurity, with the exception of his retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo et Juliette.
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