The son of émigré Jean -Baptiste -Louis Guiraud studied from 1853 to 1854 at the Paris Conservatory with Jacques Fromental Halévy and Antoine François Marmontel 1859 and won the Prix de Rome for the cantata Bajazet et le joueur de flute. From 1860 to 1862 he stayed with his college friend Georges Bizet on in Rome. From 1870 to 1871 he took part as a volunteer in the Franco-German War. Since 1876, he taught harmony, from 1880 composition at the Conservatoire. Among his students were Paul Dukas, Camille Saint- Saëns, Erik Satie, Claude Debussy and André Gedalge.
He emerged mainly as a composer of operas. He also worked on the opera Les Contes d' Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach, composed recitatives to Bizet's opera Carmen dialogue and arranged the second Arlesienne Suite by Bizet. His writing Traité d' instrumentation was known.
- David, opera, 1846
- En Prison, Opera Comique, about 1859
- Gli avventurieri, melodramma giocoso, about 1862
- Sylvie Opera Comique, 1862
- La Coupe du roi de Thulé, Opera 1868-69
- Le Kobold Opera, 1870
- Madame Turlupin, Opera Comique, 1872
- Piccolino, Opera Comique, 1876
- Le Feu, opera, premiere March 9, 1879; Paris.
- Galante aventure, Opera Comique, 1882
- Caprice for Violin and Orchestra, 1885
- Chasse fantastique, symphonic poem, 1887
- Fredegonde, Drame lyrique, Akt 1-3 orchestrated by Paul Dukas, Act 4 and 5 and ballet in Act 3 Composed by Camille Saint- Saëns, 1895