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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

Fall Semester information

Matthew Balensuela

390A: Tps:DuFay, Josquin, and the Renaissance

A survey of selected works and composers of Renaissance music with special attention to Guillaume Du Fay and Josquin des Prez. On successfully completing the course, students will be able to (1) discuss and analyze the music of major Renaissance composers and genres; (2) discuss the role of music in Renaissance society and culture; and (3) be familiar with the lives and accomplishments of Dufay and Josquin.


Spring Semester information

Elissa Harbert

390A: Tps:Exoticism in Western Music

Musical portrayals of "exotic" people and places have been ubiquitous in Western culture from the Renaissance to today, showing up in opera, instrumental music, Broadway musicals, film and TV scores, and in jazz and popular music. Often these portrayals are deeply stereotyped and problematic, especially when considered through our contemporary understandings of race, gender, cultural appropriation, and global inequalities. However, they can also be staggeringly beautiful and have long been a beloved part of Western musical culture. What makes music sound "exotic," and what relationship does this music have with the far-flung cultures it may purport to represent?

To explore these questions, we will delve into selected works from the history of European opera and instrumental music, such as Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio, Bizet's Carmen, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, and more. We will explore Broadway musicals such as The King and I and Miss Saigon; as well as film and TV music, including Aladdin and Star Trek; and American popular music from Tin Pan Alley to Beyonce. Through this lens, we will confront such cultural issues as colonialism and postcolonial theory, race, gender, and sexuality.


Fall Semester information

Elissa Harbert

390A: Tps:Broadway Musicals and American Culture

Broadway musicals have long been one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States. Far from a frivolous escape, the musical has been a vehicle for potent cultural critique that reveals the values and concerns of its era. After exploring the genre's origins in ballad opera, operetta, minstrelsy, and vaudeville, we will study selected musicals from Show Boat to Hamilton, examining how their music, lyrics, and narratives interact with cultural issues of their times and ours. By interpreting their messages about race, ethnicity, gender, class, national politics, and other issues, students will develop a deep understanding of musical theater's position in U.S. society as well as its musico-dramatic conventions.