21M.250 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

Beethoven to Mahler


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


21M.301 Harmony and Counterpoint I or permission of instructor. Basic score-reading ability is recommended.

General Information

In 21M.250 we will study the style, form, musical language, and context of selected works composed from the late eighteenth century (the time of Beethoven) through the late nineteenth century (Mahler). Listening, specifically analytical listening is vital to this course. Initially, you should listen to each assignment before and after the class meeting. Then listen again (and again), in order to familiarize yourself with each piece.

The primary text for this class is:
Taruskin, Richard. Music in the Nineteenth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780199842162. Assigned readings will be taken from this text.

Listening and Reading Assignments

Recordings and some scores for each listening assignment are listed on the Listening and Scores page. Weekly reading assignments and musical works covered can be found on the Readings page.


Recommended recordings for the assigned listening are cited on the Listening and Scores page. Performances can be heard through the Naxos Music Library and other online subscription services; check with your local public or university library for access to online music resources. Some recordings are openly available on the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) website. Youtube is another option for listening to performances, but the recording quality can vary.


The required textbook contains numerous score excerpts. Many open source full scores are available on the IMSLP website, or you can check your local library.

Class Participation

Students are expected to come to each class meeting prepared to participate actively. In addition, all students will be asked to lead the discussions on specific pieces from the assigned listening.

Written Assignments

Concert Reports: You will attend three concerts this semester featuring music from the late eighteenth through the late nineteenth centuries and write 2–4 page reports on each experience.

Listening Guides: Each student will prepare several listening guides which will be shared with the class and used to lead that day’s discussion of the assigned listening.


There will be two exams. Each exam will cover the assigned listening and reading, as well as material discussed in class. Questions will feature excerpts from the assigned listening for identification, description, and comparison. Additional questions will deal with concepts (describing musical forms, explaining the significance of particular pieces, etc.) and terms.


2 Exams 15% each
3 Concert reports 10% each
2–3 Listening guides 10–15% each
Participation 10%


I Introduction and Beethoven  
II Beethoven and Rossini; Bellini; Field; Schubert  
III Lieder; Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn; Weber  
IV Meyerbeer; Glinka; Paganini; Liszt Concert Report 1 due
V Schumann; Berlioz; Chopin;  
VI Gottschalk; David; Smetana; Balakirev  
VII Exam Week; Wagner and Verdi Exam 1
VIII Wagner and Verdi (cont.) Concert Report 2 due
IX Musorgsky; Tchaikovsky; Bizet; Puccini  
X Brahms  
XI Symphony  
XII The Symphony; Mahler Concert Report 3 due
XIII Exam Week Exam 2
XIV Wrap-up and Informal Presentations  

Course Info

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