Seminars and Special Topics

Women in Music (Spring 2018) [undergraduate seminar]

Women in Music: Course Flyer

In this course, explore the lives, careers, and works of women composers, primarily of classical music: the antiphons of Hildegard of Bingen, the madrigals of Maddalena Casulana, the cantatas of Barbara Strozzi, the chamber music of Louise Farrenc, the operas of Ethel Smyth, the symphonies of Florence Price, the musique concrète of Else Marie Pade, and much more. We also consider the contributions of performers (the concerto delle donne), patrons (Isabella d’Este), and teachers (Nadia Boulanger), and spend time examining the social and cultural biases that women musicians have confronted throughout history.  

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Franz Schubert: Inside, Out (Fall 2017)

Schubert Seminar - Flyer

Topics include memory, temporality, and cyclicity; interiority, subjectivity, and mesmerism; expression, the sublime, and breakthrough; oppression, censorship, and dissent; identity, difference, and embodiment; landscape, nostalgia, and the wanderer; invention, inheritance, and influence; reception, historiography, and the canon.

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Performance Practices (Fall 2015, Spring 2017)

Performance Practices - Flyer

In this course, we use primary sources—treatises, reviews, images, recordings—to develop historically informed performance practices, with repertoire ranging from the medieval era to the twentieth century. Topics include variants, divisions, grounds, ornamentation, figured basses, varied reprises, declamation, concert programs, extended techniques, and indeterminacy.

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Music and Disability Studies (Fall 2013)

Music and Disability Studies - Flyer

The new interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies examines disability as both a form of identity and a product of culture. Drawing on the recent work of music scholars, we will seek applications of this influential field on a variety of musical topics, with separate units on performance (from castrati to one-hand pianists); reception (from Landini to Stevie Wonder); musical communities (from deaf rappers to blind bluesmen); and representation (from Porgy and Bess to A Beautiful Mind).

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Introduction to Film Music [undergraduate seminar] (Fall 2011, Fall 2013)

Film Music History [graduate seminar] (Fall 2012, Spring 2016, Summer 2017, Summer 2019)

Introduction to Film Music - Flyer

An exploration into the history of film music, beginning with music for silent films and concluding with a unit on current practices. Topics include film music during the "Golden Age" of Hollywood; music in cartoons and animated film; jazz, rock, and compilation scores; and modernist techniques. Composers include Philip Glass, Bernard Herrmann, Erich Korngold, Erik Satie, Max Steiner, Toru Takemitsu, Virgil Thomson, Franz Waxman, and John Williams.

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Classical Music through Sketches and Fragments (Spring 2012)

Classical Music through Sketches and Fragments - Flyer

Focusing on the works of Emanuel Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, we study composer sketches, fragments, exercises, revisions, and cadenzas—music that is ephemeral, that exposes the moment of artistic inspiration, that exists before (or is added after) the final draft. Topics include Bach's revisions of his own sonatas, Haydn's drafts for Chaos, Mozart's Requiem and the ethics of completion, Beethoven's sketchbooks, postmodern cadenzas, and posthumous Schubert (as imagined by Berio, Harbison, and others). 

The German Lied: Poetry and Music (Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2018)

Music and Poetry of the German Lied - Flyer

An interdisciplinary exploration of the music and poetry of the nineteenth-century lied. Each class, we will focus our attention on one song, using it as an entry point into broader discussions of style, analysis, compositional practice, and social history. Composers include Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Bronsart, Cornelius, Franz, Hensel, Jensen, Lang, Liszt, Loewe, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Reichardt, Schröter, Schubert, Schumann, Wieck-Schumann, Wolf, Zelter, and Zumsteeg.

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Period Surveys

Music in the Classical Era (Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018)

Music in the Classical Era - Flyer

Loosely following the journeys of the first major music historian, Charles Burney, we travel the European continent in pursuit of the diversity of musical practices in the "long" eighteenth century, examining the styles, genres, and forms that have retrospectively been labeled "Classic." Stops include Milan, Mannheim, and Esterháza (to witness the birth of the symphony); Madrid (to meet Scarlatti and Boccherini); Paris (to reignite the opera querelles); London (to join its finicky audiences); Berlin and Hamburg (to listen in on Emanuel Bach's Empfindungen); and, finally, Vienna (for Mozart and Beethoven, of course).

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Music in the Romantic Era (Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Fall 2019)

Music in the Romantic Era - Flyer

We begin the semester with the thunderous provocations of Beethoven, and we listen to their reverberations deep into the nineteenth century. Among the central themes in our historical exploration are (1) the cultivation of subjectivity and expressivity; (2) new representations of national or collective identities; (3) approaches to and metaphors for thematic process; and (4) the constructed tension between musical form and poetic content.

[syllabus]  [assignments]

General Surveys

The Musician in Society (Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019)

A survey for freshman music majors of the diverse roles occupied by musicians and their collaborators in societies from the past to the present, the remote to the familiar, and the global to the local. Units include “The Listener,” “The Instrument-Maker,” “The Player,” “The Teacher,” “The Composer,” “The Patron,” “The Impresario,” and “The Disseminator,” plus a final unit on music and politics, protest, and diplomacy.

[syllabus]  [assignments]

Introduction to Music History (Spring 2015, Fall 2015)

An introduction for freshman music majors to the diverse social and cultural functions that music has served, with units on religion, dance, storytelling, nationalism, and the intersections between the aural and visual arts. 


Survey of Western Music History I and II (Fall 2010–Spring 2011, Fall 2014)

This two-semester undergraduate survey connects students with the history of notated music of Europe and its American colonies. Important musical works will serve as emblems along the way, representing different styles, genres, places, and time periods. By semester’s end, students will demonstrate fluency with the repertoire that emerges from this history, placing each work within a specific time and place and understanding its original function and audience. With a firm grounding in this selected repertoire, students will be better equipped to speculate on the historical origins of unfamiliar music they may encounter in the future. 

The study of music history is an important part of every musician’s training. As performers and educators, we are uniquely positioned to make the past “come alive” through sound. (One might say that music is a “portal” through which we may eavesdrop on our ancestors.) Awareness of music history will provide students with a base of knowledge from which they may explore and advocate for hidden repertoire in the shadowy corners of the canon. They will also be in a better position to present and program familiar repertoire in an original, creative manner.

Overview of Western Music History (Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Summer 2014)

A one-semester graduate review of music history, focusing on major works of the canon. As of Spring 2013, I teach this course online: students complete reading and listening assignments, watch streaming lectures, take automated reading quizzes, and participate in weekly review sessions in a virtual classroom.

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