This course presents a survey of some of the most popular and significant piano music of the Classical and Romantic eras. Classes feature discussion and performance of pieces including Chopin’s mazurkas, preludes, and ballades, as well as Schumann’s “Carnival,” famous works by Mozart and Beethoven, and the virtuoso styles of Liszt and Rachmaninov. This course is an ideal opportunity to gain an enriched understanding of piano music.

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Week 1: Haydn, Mozart, Clementi and the reinvention of keyboard style and technique

  • Haydn: Variations in f minor
  • Mozart: Munich Sonata and Handel suite
  • Clementi compared with Mozart, Clementi compared with Beethoven

Week 2:  The Piano as Orchestral Proxy

  • The Sonata becomes symphonic
  • Beethoven opp. 2,7,106
  • Schubert: Last three sonatas

Week 3: A New Elegance: Weber, Mendelssohn and Field

  • Weber: Sonata in Ab
  • Mendelssohn: Variations Serious
  • John Field: Nocturne

Week 4: Chopin - Formal Mastery  and Harmonic Audacity

  • Nocturnes and Mazurkas
  • Chopin’s greatest interpreters

Week 5: Liszt - Prodigality and Ceaseless Innovation

  • Rhapsodies, Fantasies and the late pieces

Week 6: Liszt’s Antipodes: Schumann and Brahms

  • Schumann and interiority
  • Brahms and the virtuosity of anti-virtuosity

Week 7: Piano Music’s Eclipse in the Late 19th Century

  • French elegance: Faure and Saint-Saëns
  • French Radicalism: Debussy

Week 8: Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Medtner and the Apotheosis of the Ornamental

  • Rachmaninoff Preludes (TBD)
  • Scriabin Preludes (TBD)
  • Medtner Sonatas (TBD)


  • A History of Keyboard Literature: Music for the Piano and Its Forerunners

    by Stewart Gordon

  • Mozart's Piano Music

    by William Kinderman

  • Beethoven`s Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion

    by Dr. Charles Rosen, Charles Rosen

  • The Creative World of Beethoven (Norton Library, N605)

    W. W. Norton & Company

  • Chopin: Pianist and Teacher: As Seen by his Pupils

    Cambridge University Press

  • The Age of Chopin: Interdisciplinary Inquiries

    Indiana University Press

  • Franz Liszt and His World (The Bard Music Festival)

    Princeton University Press

  • Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy

    by Paul Roberts

  • Arrau on Music and Performance (Great Pianists: In Their Own Words)

    by Joseph Horowitz

  • Music Sounded Out: Essays, Lectures, Interviews, Afterthoughts

    by Alfred Brendel

  • Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts

    by Alfred Brendel

  • Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New

    by Charles Rosen

  • Nineteenth-Century Piano Music (Studies in Musical Genres and Repertories)

    Schirmer Books