At the end of the academic year, as we finish writing exams and papers (and grading exams and papers), it seems like a good moment to take a look at two student compositions by Charles Lefebvre (1843-1917), each with corrections by Charles Gounod. Lefebvre began studying with Gounod in 1861, before entering Ambroise Thomas’s composition class at the Paris Conservatoire in the fall of 1863. He later recalled that,

“For me, the greatest influence Gounod exerted, at that time, was less the result of lessons, properly speaking, than of our frequent conversations, in which, responding to the work I submitted, the teacher elaborated on such and such a musical subject, such and such a point of technique or the history of our art, in the most illuminating speeches, often reinforced by examples drawn from the masters, which Gounod sang in his soft, uniquely charming voice, as I have never since heard them interpreted” (loosely translated from “La vie intime d’un grand musicien Charles Lefebvre,” 349).

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