From fragmentary piano character sketches to massive oratorios, this course will analyze and contextualize the most dramatic era of change in western music history. Four composers, born at the outset of the 19th century, will lead us on this musical hero’s journey. Download Syllabus
Each session in this course examines one crucial operatic masterpiece that transformed western music.
Audio: John Gibbons talks about the 8 operas selected for the course.
This course will examine the most controversial and multifaceted of composers.
For roughly a century, opera in Italy constituted an authentically popular yet highly sophisticated art form that evolved its own characteristic, organic nature and yet reflected a complex array of aesthetic, social, and political developments. Syllabus
A note on the NEXT Tuesday class, Italian Opera from Barber to Turandot - Will it be a rehash of the current class?
3-week class, Saturday mornings. Designed for opera newbies and lifelong opera lovers alike, this course explores the genre through the first three works of Lyric Opera’s season.
This daylong seminar examines musical masterpieces that transformed western music and will include compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Wagner, Debussy, and others. Works are explored in terms of cultural context and influence, and will be presented via live performance, CD, and DVD. Syllabus
We will highlight the flamboyant and coloristic compositional techniques of Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, the elegance and craftsmanship of Tchaikovsky, and the prescient modernism of Mussorgsky with due attention to the beloved virtuoso performance tradition. Download the syllabus
For Beethoven, the sonata was his laboratory or workshop. It was the genre in which he experimented with his most audacious and original ideas, while the quartet decisively marks the culmination of each of his “three periods.” Schubert’s sonatas and quartets express his utterly complementary character in regard to Beethoven. Download Syllabus
The swashbuckling careers of Liszt, Rubenstein, Louis Moreau, Gottschalk, and Paganini will be placed in the context of the evolution of the virtuoso concerto. Modern-era virtuosos such as Vladimir Horowitz will also be included, as will obscure and contemporary concertos. Syllabus.
Compact and homogeneous, expressive and versatile, the string quartet is the preferred chamber music of composers from Haydn (who invented it as a genre) to the current day. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Wolf, Janáček, Bartók, and Berg’s quartets will be examined. Syllabus
Vienna and Berlin constituted a veritable maelstrom of ideologies in the era following the Franco-Prussian War. From the café culture of Vienna to the cynicism of Brecht and Weill’s Berlin, these two cities represent the culmination—and, ultimately, the decadence and destruction—of an entire European culture. Syllabus | Register Online
A remarkable prodigy who lived during the dangerous political climate of the Stalinist era, Shostakovich crafted a paradoxical style where searing emotional intensity coexisted with politically motivated or mandated paradigms. This class will place his music in context with analysis, lecture, and listening, and personal, literary, and journalistic sources. Syllabus
This course will examine the literary and musical awakening of Russia in the mid-19th century, a turbulent time when political upheaval created a synergy between the artistic and political spheres.
The swashbuckling careers of Liszt, Rubinstein, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and Paganini will be placed in the context of the evolution of the virtuoso concerto. Modern-era virtuosos such as Vladamir Horowitz will also be included, as will obscure and contemporary concertos.
In addition to the music itself, we will focus on the sociological, political, and philosophical interactions between Beethoven’s work and the turbulent events of his era, such as the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.