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MUS 390

Music History Topics

Investigations of specialized topics in music history with a consideration of musicological methodology. These courses expand upon the historical issues discussed in MUS 230 and/or MUS 334. Recent offerings have included Beethoven, Mozart, Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Opera, Mahler and His Time, Das Lied, Music for the Mass, Improvisation in Western Art Music, and Chamber Music of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
MUS 230 and MUS 334 or consent of instructor 1/2-1 course

Spring Semester information

Elissa Harbert

390A: Tps:19th-century Music and Culture

This course provides an in-depth exploration of selected landmarks of Western art music during the "long 19th century," starting with Beethoven's stylistic evolution and ending with Debussy and the culture of fin-de-siecle Paris. The course invites students to delve into musical works that represent some of the many genres and styles circulating in Europe and the United States during this transformative century. As we consider each piece and composer as a case study indicative of broader trends, we will explore the historical contexts, philosophical and literary underpinnings, and social dynamics of this music and how it shaped and was shaped by the world from which it came. We will also discuss the dominant role of 19th-century music in the 21st-century concert repertoire and its meanings in our own lives.
Prerequisite: MUS 230 or consent of instructor.


Fall Semester information

Elissa Harbert

390A: Tps: Music in the United States

Music has always been a pillar of identity construction for the diverse cultures of the United States. Music acts as a force that binds social groups together, but it also highlights and reinforces perceived differences. This class will examine a wide variety of musics in their social contexts from the 1700s to the present. We will explore the ways musical innovation in the United States has responded to cultural needs, social shifts, and European musical standards. Topics include how Americans self-consciously created their musical culture in the years surrounding the Revolution; the rise and fall of blackface minstrelsy; how African American music gradually became accepted as central to American music; the use and abuse of Native American music as a marker of nationalism; how twentieth-century art music composers (such as Charles Ives, William Grant Still, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and John Adams) strove to define and practice an American compositional style; the racial, gendered, and generational factors at play in the birth and rise of rock and roll; the many musics of the Civil Rights struggle; how Americans have fashioned themselves musically in Internet Age; and much more.