AS376 348 - The Symphonic Century

The symphony occupies a prominent place within the history of Western classical music in the “long” nineteenth century. At once a canvas for daring innovations in style and form and a genre strongly allied with notions of “tradition,” the nineteenth-century symphony brings together a complex set of issues that illuminate the broader history of music and musical culture of the past 200 years. This course introduces the iconic works of the symphonic tradition, with a focus on music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler. As we aim to discover what made this music so remarkable in its time and why so many people still care about it today, we will consider each symphony both as a timeless work of art and as a particular moment in cultural history. Close attention will be given to the techniques of musical listening, and our work will be deeply rooted within the historical, philosophical, and political contexts of the time. There are no pre-requisites for the course apart from a willingness to open one’s ears and to engage creatively and critically with some of the most extraordinary music ever written.
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