10934 Beethoven: Romantic Rebel 1

Credits: 6 advanced credits in Music

Prerequisites: 36 credits, including Introduction to Music (or corresponding knowledge of music) and The Classical Style. Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

Author: Ron Weidberg

The course focuses on the works of one of the giants of Western culture and one of the most revered composers in musical history: Ludwig van Beethoven. It analyzes Beethoven’s works within the historical and stylistic contexts of his time. It examines the influence of two of his major predecessors, Haydn and Mozart (to whom the course “The Classical Style” is dedicated), and how he became their most important successor and a central composer in the canonical repertoire. In terms of style, Beethoven did not belong to his period and he must be treated as a period unto itself.

The course focuses on the most important genres, including piano sonatas, symphonies, string quartets, concerti and others. The discussion deals with contextual aspects of the various compositions (the socio-political climate of the period, biographical events, etc.), and on an analysis of the music and its composition. Materials include a CD with recordings of the works studied and examples of notation.

Topics: The Bonn period (1770-1792); The first Vienna period (1792-1800); Piano sonatas of the first Vienna period; Years of crisis and creativity (1800-1802); The symphonies (I): until 1806; Piano sonatas of the “heroic decade” (1803-1814); The symphonies (II): 1807-1812; The string quartets (I): Opus 18 and Opus 59 (“Razumovsky”); The opera Fidelio; The string quartets (II) and chamber music (1808-1814);2 Soaring and convergence (I): the late piano sonatas;2 Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony;2 Soaring and convergence (II): the last string quartets (1816-1826).2

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course although it is not required. The paper can be analytical or theoretical, or a combination of both.

2These topics are currently not being taught.