21M.250 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

Beethoven to Mahler


Written Assignments

You will attend three concerts this semester featuring music from the late eighteenth through the late nineteenth centuries and write reports (2–4 pages) on each experience. As part of the class, guest musicians from the Handel and Haydn Society will perform selections from Beethoven Violin Sonatas on period instruments for our class. 

Listening Guides

Each student will prepare listening guides to be shared with the class. These listening guides will be used to lead that day’s discussion of the assigned listening. A template for listening guides will be given in class.

Concert Reports

You are required to attend 3 concerts featuring the music of the nineteenth century and write a 2–4 page report on each experience. Concert reports must discuss each work on the concert in a thoughtful way. A successful report will be organized effectively and demonstrate competence with the fundamentals of writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax). Reports should be submitted with the concert program and ticket.

Some Things to Consider as You Listen

The following questions are designed to help you think about the music you will hear during the concert. You do not have to limit yourself to these questions, but be sure to focus your report on the music and its performance. Taking notes during the performance can disturb those around you; try writing down a few short ideas at intermission and immediately after the concert. Then write a draft of your report just after or within one day of the concert.

What is the form of the piece?

  • Are there any melodies that return?
  • Do particular sounds, instruments, or voices return?

What techniques are used to create a sense of expectation? Of contrast? Of return?

  • Are there a lot of dynamic changes?
  • Are there sudden dynamic changes?
  • Are there very high or very low notes held for a long time?
    • Does this create expectations in you the listener?
  • Does this lead to new music or a return to music that was heard earlier?

Is the performance convincing?

  • If there is a text, do you think that the music is appropriate for that text?
  • Do the performers give the impression that they know the music and what they want to convey in that music?
  • If there is more than one performer, do you get the feeling of an ensemble working together?

Do you think the pieces played were programmed to reflect a theme or purpose? In what way(s) were the compositions related?

If the composition on our syllabus, how does your prior knowledge of the piece affect your understanding of this particular performance? Does familiarly with the piece change the listening experience? How does this compare with hearing a piece for the very first time?

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments
Instructor Insights