Here is a free sheet music edition of J.S. Bach (1685-1750) and Charles-François Gounod’s (1818-1893) famous ‘Ave Maria’ (based on Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846). It’s a free edition in PDF format but without fingering so it’s nice and clean. This is a good one for gigs and weddings. I like using it for the signing.
Free PDF Edition for Two Classical Guitars (un-fingered):
• Ave Maria for Guitar Duo (Bach/Gounod) [free PDF]
Here’s a bit of history on the piece via Wikipedia:
The piece consists of a melody by the French Romantic composer Charles Gounod especially designed to be superimposed over the Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846, from Book I of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, written some 137 years earlier. Although published in instrumental versions and fitted to various texts during Gounod’s lifetime, the claim that he never ‘wrote’ it appears to be literally true.
Gounod’s father-in-law Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann transcribed the improvisation and in 1853 made an arrangement for violin (or cello) with piano and harmonium. The same year it appeared with the words of Alphonse de Lamartine’s poem Le livre de la vie (“The Book of Life”). In 1859 Jacques Léopold Heugel published a version with the familiar Latin text. The version of Bach’s prelude used by Gounod has the addition of one measure (m.23), found only in the Schwenke manuscript and the Simrock printed edition based upon it, but not in the other Bach manuscripts or the scholarly Bischoff and G. Henle Verlag Urtext printed editions.
Alongside Schubert’s Ave Maria (another contrafactum), the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria has become a fixture at wedding masses, funerals and quinceañeras. There are many different instrumental arrangements including for violin and guitar, string quartet, piano solo, cello, and even trombones. Opera singers, such as Luciano Pavarotti, as well as choirs have recorded it hundreds of times during the twentieth century.
Later in his career, Gounod composed an unrelated setting of Ave Maria for a four-part SATB choir.
More from This is Classical GuitarFree Sheet Music Page | Lesson Archive Page | Weekly Email Newsletter