French composer Charles Gounod (1818-1893) is perhaps best known for his opera Faust and his Ave Maria. He was a life-long Parisian, excepting a four-year stay in Rome after winning the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1839. He came from an artistic family, including an artist father and pianist mother who was his first teacher. He went on to study with Anton Reicha and later at the Paris Conservatoire. Also a lifelong church devotee who almost entered the priesthood, he was a prolific composer of sacred vocal and choral works.
Gounod wrote Petite Symphonie late in his career, in 1885, for flutist/impresario Paul Taffanel and his Societé de Musique de Chambre pour Instruments a Vent (Chamber Music Society for Wind Instruments), which premiered it in Paris on April 30 of that year. Its instrumentation is simply harmonie ensemble plus a single flute, reflecting both the somewhat backward-looking philosophy of the Societé and the importance of Taffanel. It uses the standard symphonic form from 100 years prior. The first movement has a slow introduction followed by an allegro in sonata form. The second is a gorgeous andante cantabile, almost an aria for flute. The third is a spritely scherzo with trio. The finale is another allegro that sparkles with lightness and energy. While the piece does show several Romantic-era tendencies, including long melodic lines and some surprising harmonic motion in development sections, it is at its heart a throwback to an earlier, simpler era where form and harmony were clear as day.
Here is the full piece, performed by the Collegium Musicum Copenhagen:
This is by no means the only performance available. A quick check of YouTube will reveal dozens more of varying quality.
Gounod has biographical articles at Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannicia, Naxos, the Bach Cantatas Website, Classic FM, and the Society for the Recognition of Famous People. There is also a website at charles-gounod.com dedicated solely to him – it looks like a relic, but it is kept up to date.
As for the Petite Symphonie, at least one edition of it is available at IMSLP. Additional information can be found at Edition Silvertrust, Wind Band Lit (unfortunately an out-of-date post), this Icelandic blog (written in English), Chicago Symphonic Winds, and Wikia Program Notes.