André Gedalge was born at 75 rue des Saints-Pères, in Paris, where he first worked as a bookseller and editor specializing in livres de prix for public schools. During this time he published books by Marie Laubot and Edmond About for the Librairie Gedalge.
In 1886, at the age of 28, he entered the Conservatoire de Paris. In that same year he won the Second Prix de Rome. He studied under Ernest Guiraud, professor of counterpoint and fugue, who had also been Jules Massenet's teacher.
In 1891, Gedalge composed the score for le Petit Savoyard, a pantomime in four acts performed at the Théâtre des Nouveautés. In 1895, Pris au Piège was awarded the prix Cressant. In June 1900, his one act ballet Phoebé debuted at the Opéra-Comique. He composed Quatuor d'archet, les Vaux de Vire (a collection of melodies), children's songs, and three symphonies. These illustrated the proud motto that he followed: "Neither literature, nor painting", which defined "pure music". His Third Symphony in F Major and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (written in 1899) were considered masterpieces of French music.
He influenced many students of music. See: List of music students by teacher: G to J#André Gedalge.
He also wrote instructional works for students: "Treatise of the Fugue" (Traité de la fugue, 1904), and a book on "The Instruction of Music by the Education of the Ear" (l'Enseignement de la Musique par l'éducation de l'oreille, 1922).
He was relatively modest and, as such, did not garner a large reputation as an individual musician, but he greatly benefited from the wide recognition of his students. On the day after his death, it was written:
"He gave to his students the best part of himself: the knowledge, the understanding of man and the supreme gift that is goodness. It was sufficient that he had been poor and worthy of the name of musician for that he counselled, taught, and gave affectionate welcome not only to his class, but in the intimacy of his dwelling."
(See below for original quote.)
A fourth symphony in A major was left unfinished
Also works for piano, piano and voice, a Requiem and other choral works.