Charles-François Gounod (June 18, 1818 – October 18, 1893) was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria as well as his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette. Gounod was born in Paris, the son of a pianist mother and a draftsman father. His mother was his first piano teacher. Under her tutelage, Gounod first showed his musical talents. He entered the Paris Conservatoire where he studied under Fromental Halévy. He won the Prix de Rome in 1839 for his cantata Ferdinand.