Gounod wrote the first version of this famous song in 1852 and it was published in December of that year by Mayaud as 'Premier prelude de J. S. Bach'.
The words were by Lamartine - 'Vers sur un album' from his Recueillments poetiques of 1839. Exactly when these words were supplanted by those of the 'Ave Maria' is not clear, but it seems to have happened within the first few years of the song's life.
After a century and a half the piece is still sung, played and loved the world over, and this is surely its own guarantee of musical value, as it is of its composer's more general gift as a songwriter.
In the view of Maurice Ravel, that sharp critic of everything shoddy or meretricious, 'the true founder of the melodie in France was Charles Gounod. ' (Roger Nichols).
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