Music Survey: Classical Era to the 20th Century

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

Ability to read music and familiarity with basic elements of harmony

Additional student cost: 

Students share the costs of attending opera and concert performances


A survey of the history of Western music from 1750 to the present. Special emphasis will be placed upon Austrian composers and music composed in Vienna, a central site in the development of Western musical style.

Learning outcomes: 
  • Discern characteristics of the development of musical style in Western art music traditions and of Viennese musical styles in particular
  • Understand basic methods of musical analysis
  • Participate in discourse pertaining to Vienna’s cultural legacy and current musical culture
Method of presentation: 

Lectures, discussions, audio-visual musical selections

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Class participation - 10%
  • Quiz - 5%
  • Midterm exam - 25%
  • Event reports (2) - 10%
  • Concert review - 10%
  • Opera review - 10%
  • Final exam - 30%
  Reading: Selected excerpts from the Norton History of Western Music (7th ed.; abbreviation: HWM) as well as source readings focused on topics for discussion in class will be assigned for each week. Listening: Approximately 80 Minutes of listening per week – excerpts from pieces discussed in class, but not necessarily played in class – will be stored on CDs on reserve in the library. Listening identification will be on both the midterm and final exam.   In addition, preparation is required for your concert and opera reviews: this should include background information about the composer, the historical context of the work(s) performed and consultation of an English translation of texts performed, if any. We will discuss this assignment on the first day of class.  
1 Introduction: Viennese musical culture Music in Europe around 1750  Performance practice HWM pp. 457-464; 470-484; 490-497; 514-518. W/T 62-64
2 Haydn: String Quartet Op.33 No.2 (“The Joke”) Sonata form; Gluck’s Opera Reforms HWM pp. 485-490, 497-500; 506-514; 524-536; 541-552. W/T 81, 82, 85
3 Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro HWM pp. 519-523; 536-541; 552-565; W/T 86-88
4 Piano Concerto No.23 in A Major, K.488; Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”) Listening Quiz Excursion to the Mozarthaus.  
5 Early Romanticism: Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, Schubert Lieder; Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique HWM Chapter 23 (pp. 568-595); Chapter 24; W/T 90-93, 97
7 Beyond Vienna: Schumann’s Dichterliebe; Chopin's Preludes Italian Opera: Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia; Verdi’s La Traviata HWM pp. 638-649, 659-668; W/T 94, 101-104, 106, 108-110
8 Wagner: Tristan und Isolde The Austrian Empire and Fin de siècle Vienna: Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler HWM pp. 683-698; Chapter 28 (pp. 714-736); W/T 116-118, 120, 121
9 Parisian Modernism: Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring The Second Viennese School: Schoenberg and Berg; Strauss’s Salome HWM pp. 758-765; 771-786; 819-829; 801-819; W/T 129, 122, 125-127
10 National Socialism and World War II Shostakovich, Messaien, Ullmann, Orff 870-880, 909-914; W/T 134
11 High Modernism: American Music; Postmodernism: Minimalism and Divergent Trends pp. 917-938; Chapter 35 (941-965); W/T 149


Required readings: 
  • Burkholder, J. Peter and Claude Palisca. A History of Western Music, 7th Edition. New York: Norton, 2006.
  • Weiss, Piero and Richard Taruskin. Music in the Western World: A History in Documents. New York: Schirmer, 1984.