Charles Gounod’s Meditation on the Prelude in C Major from Vol. 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier by J. S. Bach is certainly one of the most well-known classical melodies. Gounod got to know Bach’s music through Fanny Hensel, Felix Mendelssohn’s sister. He improvised the melody on the Prelude in 1852 in the home of his future father-in-law, the composer Pierre Zimmermann, who subsequently transcribed it. A few days later the piece was performed in a house concert in an arrangement for violin, piano and small choir. This arrangement for piano solo was published by Schott in 1853 (plate number 12756), with a dedication to Gounod’s friend, the pianist Alexandre Goria. It was not until 1859 that the text of the Latin prayer ‘Ave Maria’ was set to the piece, as it is known today. Schott’s first print run of the piano version comprised only 50 copies; in the early 1920s 10,000 copies per year were printed. Gounod himself regarded the ‘Ave Maria’, next to his great works such as the Faust opera, merely as a playful piece (‘espièglerie’), which he did not even mention in his autobiography.