The Classical Symphony

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 

Upper level skills in music analysis


Tracing the development of the symphony from its emergence as a genre through the Vienna School to Schubert. Central issues include defining style, formal analysis, and the question of influence. Prime consideration will also be given to the social and musical setting of Vienna during this period.

Attendance policy: 

IES Abroad Vienna requires attendance at all class sessions, including field study excursions, internship meetings, scheduled rehearsals, and exams. Attendance will be monitored and unexcused absences will affect the student’s grade via the “Participation” component of each course’s final grade.

Excused Absences

  • Excused absences are permitted only when a student is ill, when class is held on a recognized religious holiday traditionally observed by the particular student, or in the case of a grave incident affecting family members.
  • To be granted an excused absence, the student must write an email to his/her professor in a timely manner stating the reason for the absence (and, if appropriate, how long they expect to be away) with a cc to Center administrative staff. In an emergency, the student may call Student Services or the Front Desk. If the student is unable to send an email (too sick, no computer), he/she may call the Student Assistant at the front desk (01/512 2601-11) who will then write the email described above and send it to said parties as stated above, with a cc to the student.
  • If a student is absent 3 consecutive days or more, he/she will need to obtain a doctor’s note and then submit this to the Registrar’s office.
Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of the development of the symphony from its origins through the beginning of the nineteenth century, as well as the historical, social and aesthetic contexts that fostered and nurtured its growth.



Method of presentation: 

Lectures & discussions

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Class participation - 20%
  • Essays - 20%
  • Mid-term exam - 30%
  • Final exam - 30%

Reading and listening assignments are listed below. CDs of the required listening and copies of the required readings are on reserve in the library. There will be a mid-term and a final exam as well as (3-5) short essay assignments relevant to the topic at hand; participation in class discussions is also evaluated.

Week Content
1. Class Introduction

Defining the Classical Style

  • Listening: Assorted musical examples (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, et al.)
2. Emergence of the Genre

Early Viennese School

  • Reading: EW, Grove
  • Listening: Monn, Symphony in G major
3. Theme and Structure

Excursion: Haydn House

  • Reading: CR 19-100
  • Listening: Haydn, Symphony No. 92
4. The Classical Ideal

Excursion: Figaro House

  • Reading: NZ 510-44, NS1 83-112
  • Listening: Mozart, Symphony No. 40


5. The Motivic Cell
  • Reading: NS2, 3-16, 143-63, 185-91
  • Listening: Beethoven, Symphony No. 5
6. Other Classical Schools
  • Reading: Grove
  • Listening: Stamitz, Sinfonia a 8 in E-flat major, op. 11 No. 3 C. P. E. Bach, Sinfonia in C, Wq 182 No. 3; Sinfonia in e minor, Wq 178
7. Music and Revolution

Excursion: Pasqualati House

  • Reading: TS (all)
  • Listening: Beethoven, Symphony No. 3, 1st movement
8. The Artist as Hero
  • Reading: SB 3-28
  • Listening: Beethoven, Symphony No. 3, movements 2-4 Beethoven, Symphony No. 7, 2nd movement
9. The Rise of Romanticism
  • Reading: BN 179-207
  • Listening: Schubert, Symphony No. 8 (“Unfinished”)
10. Beyond Classicism
  • Listening: Brahms: Symphony No. 4, 4th movement; Bruckner, Symphony No. 9, 2nd movement Mahler: Symphony No. 9, 3rd movement


Required readings: 
  • Broder, Nathan. Mozart: Symphony in G Minor K.550. New York: Norton, 1967. (NS1)
  • Burnham, Scott. Beethoven Hero. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1995. (SB)
  • Forbes, Elliot. Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C Minor. New York: Norton, 1971. (NS2)
  • Newbould, Brian. Schubert and the Symphony. London: Toccata Press, 1992. (BN)
  • Rosen, Charles. The Classical Style. New York: Norton, 1972. (CR)
  • Sipe, Thomas. Beethoven: Eroica Symphony. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998. (TS)
  • Wolf, Eugene. Title, Function, and the Concept of Genre: The Earliest True Symphonies. Unpublished paper,presented at IMS, August 1997. (EW)
  • Zaslaw, Neal. Mozart’s Symphonies. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. (NZ)