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The Core Curriculum

Music Humanities Syllabus

The focus of Music Humanities is on masterpieces of Western art music in their historical and cultural contexts. The specific goals of the course are to awaken and encourage an appreciation of Western music, to help the student learn to respond intelligently to a variety of musical idioms, and to engage the student in the issues of various debates about the character and purposes of music that have occupied composers and musical thinkers since ancient times. As the student learns to become an adept, sensitive listener, his or her understanding of the history and value of this repertory will be enriched as well. The student will become actively involved in the process of critical listening, in the classroom, on his or her electronic equipment, and in some of the professional concerts that are part of the extraordinary richness of musical life in New York.

Using a “great works” approach, the course will look at the changing genres and styles of music, examining composers’ choices and assumptions, as well as those of their patrons and audiences, as it moves chronologically from the Middle Ages to the present. The students’ critical perceptions and articulate responses to readings, and especially to music, will be eagerly sought.

General Course Outline

Medieval and Renaissance Music
Composers and works include:

Gregorian chant
Hildegard of Bingen
Josquin des Prez
The madrigal

Baroque Music
Composers and works include:

Handel: Messiah or opera seria
Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos

Classical Music
Composers and works include:

Haydn instrumental works
Mozart operas and instrumental works
Beethoven symphonies

Romantic Music
Composers and works include:

Schubert (the Lied)
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

Twentieth-century Music
Composers and works include:

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Berg: Wozzeck
American composers: Ives, Copland, Cage
Jazz: Armstrong, Ellington, Parker