MANUSCRIT MUSICAL autograph signed " Ch. Gounod ", Beware ! 1870 ; title and 2 pages in-fol. on a double sheet.
English melody for voice and piano.
Beware ! [CG 338] is the first melody composed by Gounod after taking refuge in London. It is signed and dated on the title page in November 1870: 'Music by Ch. Gounod. 9ber /70. London".
The lyrics are by Henry Wadsworth LONGFELLOW : " I know a maiden fair to see "..., taken from Voices of the Night; Gounod retained the first three of the five stanzas, warning against the seductive attractions of a femme fatale. "The first verses are of the seduced man, the last ones of the distrustful man", wrote Gounod to Georgina Weldon on April 24, 1871. For the French edition, Jules Barbier's translation bears the title Prends garde !
In E major, at 2/4, the melody is marked Allegretto; it is 69 bars long. The manuscript is carefully scratched in brown ink on 26-line Lard-Esnault paper, with a few corrections by scraping.
This "song" was published in 1871 by Novello; the Musical Times then praised "the relevance of the light introduction, the independence of the pianistic figures that enliven the vocal line, the good effect of the numerous silences and triplets in the last stanza" (see the excellent commentary by Gérard Condé, Charles Gounod, Fayard, 2009, p. 646-647).