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Graduate Music History Seminars Fall 2013

The Concerto in History and Practice

MU 552 01
Credits: 32
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 1 and 2
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Monday 10:00–12:50
Instructor: Dr. Jan Swafford

Course Description

This course will be a study of the concerto from Bach to Bartok, with an emphasis on the evolution of the genre over a period of two centuries. The exact selection of pieces will depend on the number in and interests of the class, but they will include the Bach Fifth Brandenburg, a Mozart Piano Concerto and the Clarinet Concerto, the Beethoven Fourth Piano Concerto and Violin Concerto, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Dvorak Cello Concerto, Brahms Violin Concerto, and ending with the Violin Concertos of Bartok, Berg, and Schoenberg. The goal is to gain a thorough understanding of the genre and its evolution, and to improve the students' abilities in advanced analysis, theoretical writing, and speaking about music. Each student will have one short paper and class presentation on a movement of a work, and a long paper and presentation on a complete work. Weekly listening assignments will prepare students for the pieces to be presented in class.


Music of Webern

MU 552 02
Credits: 3
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 2
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Tuesday 10:00–12:50
Instructor: Dr. Elizabeth Abbate

Course Description
This course will cover the full trajectory of Webern’s music, beginning with his departure from tonality in the early songs. We will consider the shape and impact of the miniature, “aphoristic” instrumental pieces, focus on the op. 14 settings of poetry by Georg Trakl, discuss the origins of his twelve-tone technique, and analyze his late, great works, including Symphony op. 21, op. 24, and portions of the Cantata op. 31. Webern’s often dramatic life and times are the backdrop to his art.

Anton von Webern
Universal Edition
ISBN: 978-3702427832

Kathryn Bailey
Cambridge University Press, 2006
ISBN: 978-0521547963

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

MU 552 03
Credits: 3
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 2
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Wednesday 10:00–12:50
Instructor: Dr. Peter Watchorn 

Course Description
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) is one of the greatest figures in 19th-century Romanticism; yet, the commanding reputation that he enjoyed during his own lifetime was gratuitously undermined; first by Richard Wagner, in an infamous anonymously-published anti-Semitic tract, and finally by the Nazis in their attempts to “purify” German music of “corrupting” influences. Furthermore, Mendelssohn’s sheer brilliance, universally acknowledged in his own day, and his enormous popularity had the paradoxical effect of marginalizing him in some quarters as a sentimental, facil, and unoriginal hack. In recent years, this farcically incorrect assessment of one of Romanticism’s leading lights has been largely reversed. The objective of this course is to present the current view of Mendelssohn’s life and career and to re-establish his pre-eminence, both as a composer of profound importance and also as a passionate advocate for composers such as Bach, Mozart, Schubert, and Schumann.

R. Larry Todd
Oxford University Press, 2005
ISBN: 978-0195179880

Handel Oratorio

MU 552 04
Credits: 3
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 1
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Thursday 10:00–12:50
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Shryock

Course Description
In the final decades of his career, George Frideric Handel occupied himself almost exclusively with large-scale theatre works sung in English known as oratorios. This seminar will focus on five pillars of the repertoire. Students will consider matters related to literary source texts, composer-librettist collaboration, compositional process and revision, reception history, and performance practice. Along the way, students will encounter manuscript and printed scores and librettos, contemporary criticism and correspondence, and related primary source materials. The result will be a deeper awareness of and appreciation for the genre that cemented Handel’s place as a British cultural icon and constitutes one of the oldest uninterrupted performance traditions of Western classical music.

Focus Repertoire

• Saul
• L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
• Messiah
• Samson
• Theodora


MU 559 01
Credits: 1.5
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 2
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Tuesday 10:00–12:50, weeks 1–7
Instructor: Dr. Elizabeth Seitz 

Course Description
This seven week course will explore the music of Richard Strauss within the context of the cultural milieu at the turn of the century. Beginning with his tone poems, the course will investigate not only Strauss’ debt to the past but also his vision of the future of music and will culminate in an exploration of his operas.

Focus Repertoire
Don Juan
Also Sprach Zarathustra
Don Quixote
Der Rosenkavalier
Ariadne auf Naxos
Vier Letzte Lieder

Bryan Gilliam, ed. 
Duke University Press, 1997
ISBN: 978-0822321149 


Jean Sibelius

MU 559 02
Credits: 1.5
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 2
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Tuesday 10:00–12:50, weeks 8–14
Instructor: Dr. Rebecca Marchand 

Course Description
This seven-week special topics course will explore the music and biography of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). We will trace the composer’s career from the 1890s into the twentieth century, investigating how his works relate to political, national, and religious landscapes. There will be an in-depth study of all seven symphonies, as well as an examination of other orchestral works, opera, and chamber music. The critical reception of Sibelius via Adorno and others will provide an ongoing backdrop for class discussions and assignments.


Daniel M. Grimley, ed.
Princeton University Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-0691152813


Opera in Russia and Eastern Europe

MU 559 03
Credits: 1.5
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 2
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Tuesday 1:00–2:50, weeks 1–7
Instructor: Karen Ruymann 

Course Description
An historical survey of opera written by Russian and Eastern European composers from the early 18th-century through the present day with a focus on the economic, social, philosophical, and political elements that contributed to the changes in this musical genre over the course of time. The construction of these operas will be studied from formal, theoretical, and hermeneutic perspectives. By the nature of the repertoire examined, our discussions will cover "nationalism," especially in the use of folk music, narrative, and scalar systems. We will close by investigating modernist musical realizations of historical figures, the absurd, and fairy tales.

Topic Areas
• Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
• Glinka: Ruslan und Lyudmila, A Life for the Tsar
• Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina
• Rimsky-Korsakov: Sadko, The Golden Cockerel
• Stravinsky: Le Rossignol, Mavra
• Prokofiev: The Love of Three Oranges
• Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtensk, The Nose
• Dvorak: Rusalka
• Janacek: Jenufa, Cunning Little Vixen
• Bartok: Bluebeard’s Castle
• Ligeti: Grand Macabre


English Opera from the Pastoralists to the Post-Modernists

MU 559 04
Credits: 1.5
Prequisites: Writing About Music, Music History 1 and 2
                      proficiency exam or review course
Meeting: Tuesday 1:00–2:50, weeks 8–14
Instructor: Karen Ruymann 

Course Description
We initiate our investigation of opera by composers from the British Isles by questioning the gap that exists between the operatic foundations created by Purcell to the bucolic works of early twentieth-century Pastoralists. We then examine the explosion of topical works beginning with Britten to the present. We will view the volatile course of British opera through a critical lens that acknowledges particular literary elements that contributed to the creative impulses of a variety of composers and then deconstruct selected operatic repertoire using theoretical, formal, and hermeneutic perspectives. Topic Areas
• The “Pastoralists” and their contributions: Holst, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Ireland
• Benjamin Britten
• Post-Modernists: Maxwell-Davies, Tippett,  Knussen, and others.
• Contemporary Currents:  Adès, Dove, Weir, and others.
Irene Morra
Ashgate, 2013

Claire Seymour
BOYE6, 2007
ISBN: 978-1843833147

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