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Gounod had no qualms about arranging well-known works by earlier masters after his own fashion. Thus in 1852 he added a melody with its own operatic climax to the famous arpeggios of the C-major Prelude BWV 846 from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. He first published instrumental versions of it under the title “Méditation”, then tried fitting various texts to the melody until in 1859 he arrived at the definitive vocal version using the text of the Ave Maria. Already by the 1890s it was claimed that “[we] have heard this sweet melody innumerable times from the best lady singers”, and its popularity has continued to the present day. Reason enough, then, for Henle Verlag to publish an Urtext edition of this worldwide hit, based on the sources and with appropriate critical commentary.

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