21M.250 | Fall 2006 | Undergraduate

Schubert to Debussy


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Structure

Part 1: Intimacy and the (Self-) Portrait: Piano Music and Songs (4 weeks)

Part 2: Romantic Chamber Music (2 weeks)

Part 3: Drama in the Theater and the Church: Opera and Church Music (2 weeks)

Intermezzo: Nationalism (1 day)

Part 4: Orchestral Music: Programatic and Absolute (4 weeks)

Part 5: Romanticism in America (1 day)

Finale: Salons (1 week)


Listening assignments are the focus of 21M.250. You are expected to listen to each assignment before and/or after each class. Listening, as demonstrated in class participation, is worth 40% of your grade. Consequently attendance is expected at all classes. If you miss a class you are required to submit at the following class a one page listening report on the material covered in the missed class.



Honour, Hugh. Romanticism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1979. ISBN: 9780064300896.

Scores (in Dover Miniature Editions)

Brahms, Johannes. Symphony No. 4. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997. ISBN: 9780486298917.

Mahler, Gustav. Symphony No. 3. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. ISBN: 9780486421384.

Schubert, Franz. Symphonies No. 8 and 9. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997. ISBN: 9780486299235.

———. String Quintet. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1998. ISBN: 9780486406435.

It is strongly recommended that you purchase this text and scores. Additional scores will be distributed during the class.

It is also suggested that you read or at least skim the appropriate entries for the given composers in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.


The class will include two quizzes, each 90 minutes long. They will cover the concepts presented and the music assigned during one-half of the semester. They represent 40% of your grade. There is no final exam.

Concert Reports

Concert reports constitute the written component of the class. Three are required, and each is expected to be about 5 pages long. Reports I and II are due no later than Lec #14, while the third and final report is due by Lec #24. I suggest that you hand in reports early and often, and it is critical that you write up the report very soon after having attended the concert, recital, ballet or opera. I expect that at least one of the concerts occur “off-campus” and that at least two involve professional musicians. It is rare for a concert to feature only Romantic music, however those you choose to write about should present at least one major work by a composer in our syllabus. It never hurts to check with me about the appropriateness of an event before hand. Please note that neither collegiate a cappella nor “Cats” falls within the purview of this class.


Listening (Demonstrated through Class Participation) 40%
Quizzes 40%
Concert Reports 20%


Composers: A Handy Chronology

1770 -1827 Ludwig van Beethoven

Although will not “officially” study him, all 19th century music is essentially a response to his towering achievement. Beethoven remains the model of the ‘Romantic" genius, and both the miniature and colossal strains of 19th century music are dependant on his example. Remember that Liszt as a child prodigy was kissed by him, Wagner thought he was almost as great as Wagner himself, and Schumann hailed the unfortunate young Brahms has his heir. Only at the end of the century could Debussy simply be indifferent to him.

The Early Romantics

1786-1826 Karl Maria von Weber (Germany)
1797-1828 Franz Schubert (Austria)*
1797-1848 Gaetano Donizetti (Italy)*
1803-1869 Hector Berlioz (France)
1809-1847 Felix Mendelssohn (Germany)
1810-1849 Frederic Chopin (Poland/France)
1810-1856 Robert Schumann (Germany)*/**
1811-1886 Franz Liszt (Hungary/France/Italy/Germany)

The Middle Romantics

1813-1883 Richard Wagner (Germany)
1813-1901 Giuseppe Verdi (Italy)
1818-1893 Charles Gounod (France)
1819-1896 Clara Wieck Schumann (Germany)
1822-1890 Cesar Franck (Belgium/France)
1824-1884 Bedrich Smetana (Czechoslovakia)*
1824-1896 Anton Bruckner (Austria)
1826-1864 Stephen Foster (USA)
1829-1869 Louis Moreau Gottschalk (USA/France)
1833-1897 Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria)**
1835-1921 Camille Saint-Saens (France)
1838-1875 George Bizet (France)
1839-1881 Modeste Mussorgsky (Russia)
1840-1893 Peter Ilych Tchaikowsky (Russia)
1841-1904 Antonin Dvorak (Czechoslovakia)
1843-1907 Edvard Grieg (Norway)

The Late and Post-Romantics

1845-1924 Gabriel Faure (France)
1853-1937 Arthur Foote (USA)
1854-1931 George Chadwick (USA)
1860-1903 Hugo Wolf (Austria)*
1860-1911 Gustav Mahler (Austria)
1862-1918 Claude Debussy (France)***
1864-1949 Richard Strauss (Germany)
1865-1957 Jean Sibelius (Finland)
1867-1944 Amy Beach (USA)

*Presumed to have died of Syphillis
** In love with Clara Wieck Schumann
***Claimed as leader of a secret society sworn to protect the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in a recent, wildly popular novel.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2006
Learning Resource Types
Activity Assignments