The cult of St.Cecilia, patron saint of music, musicians and singers, has inspired several works of art in literature and music, including the Messe de Sainte Cécile by Charles Gounod, one of the sixteen Masses he composed. Unfortunately, their popularity still has to grow.
This Mass was not only a commissioned work, but is also linked to the composer's private life. Actually, we found out in his memoires that it was a tribute to his father-in-law Zimmermann, who died in 1853.
Although the text and the elaboration of music aimed at a strict liturgical purpose, Gounod made some choices which were less traditional and more contemporary, as opposed to his early works as a sacred music composer, which were based on models of the past.
This also explains the spectators’ enthusiasm when they attended the first performance of the opera in the church of Saint-Eustache, as they were impressed by its grandeur and as they realize the author's personal involvement.
Messe de Sainte Cècile
He has founded and conducts the Ensemble Orlando Fribourg and he is the musical director of the Symphony Orchestra of Thun and of the Chamber Orchestra of Fribourg. He has conducted numerous operas in Switzerland and France.