What is the course about?
This course is intended for explorers of classical music who want to know more about Beethoven’s life and some of his most important works. We’ll trace his career from his early years in Bonn to his later life in Vienna, and gradual international fame. We’ll also explore various pieces, from symphonies and string quartets to opera and piano sonatas, to give you a taste of his changing musical style and technical innovations.
What will we cover?
- Beethoven’s musical world: concert life in Vienna, and the place of professional musicians during his lifetime
- His connection with Mozart and Haydn, both important mentors and influences on his own music
- Some of his radical innovations which took musical forms in a new direction in the early 1800s
- His personal life and political leanings, and the gradual onset of his deafness which began in his thirties
- His legacy as one of the first Romantic composers, and how he was to inspire – and intimidate – other composers for the rest of the nineteenth century.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- List the key genres in which Beethoven composed
- Summarise the major compositional developments he explored in his work
- List some of his most important compositions
- Describe the musical culture of his time, and his relationship with other composers and performers.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No prior knowledge of the subject is required. You do not need to read music to take this course (although we will look at music notation for time-to-time). You will be asked to do some reading in class and between sessions.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor presentation and explanation, including handouts, powerpoint slides or writing on a whiteboard
Guided listening and watching of audio and audio-visual examples
Class discussion and debate
Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and once enrolled further online resources will be recommended.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring a notebook and pen.
You may wish to buy some of the music or books recommended in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music history classes and to read our year-long selection of courses, please see the blog post Music history: your guide to the 2019/20 programme which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.