Exploring Brahms’s symphonies

Course Dates: 01/11/23 - 29/11/23
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
Location: Keeley Street
Brahms wrote just four symphonies over the course of his career and found the genre a difficult one to engage with. We investigate the ways in which Brahms constructed his symphonies: the debt they owe the past, and their innovative and unusual characteristics.
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In stock
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Full fee £119.00 Senior fee £95.00 Concession £77.00

Course Code: MD703B

Wed, day, 01 Nov - 29 Nov '23

Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)

Any questions? music@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 4582 0412

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

It took Johannes Brahms (1883-97) over twenty years to finalise his First Symphony – largely because of the anxieties he had around producing a work that was a worthy successor of Beethoven’s orchestral pieces, as well as his desire not to disappoint his musical mentors and supporters. In this course, we take each of Brahms’s four symphonies in turn, and explore how they work: their references to earlier composers, new and unusual features, and how Brahms writes for the orchestra. We’ll also consider the reception of each symphony at their first performances, and the impact of Brahms’s symphonies on subsequent generations of composers.

What will we cover?

- Brahms’s four symphonies: construction, historical models, orchestration
- The context of the Austro-German symphony c.1850-1890
- Reception of Brahms’s symphonies during his lifetime
- Brahms’s posthumous legacy.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Summarise the importance of Brahms’s symphonies in the later nineteenth century
- List some of the formal attributes of each symphony
- Identify aspects of the symphonies that are based on older historical models
- Recognise aspects of Brahms’s style in his orchestral music.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course in intended to be accessible for anyone with an interest in western classical music. We will look at various scores and historical documents during this course but you do not need to read music notation to participate in these activities. All texts will be in English or accompanied by an English translation. Musical scores are all available free online via IMSLP.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

- Sessions will comprise combinations of lecture, discussion, quizzes, guided listening, video and score study.
- Course materials (handouts, scores, links to online videos) will be shared via google classroom.
- You will be encouraged to do extra reading outside class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please have a notebook and pen handy for note-taking.
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 Music history courses in London and online 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.

Katy Hamilton Tutor Website

Dr Katy Hamilton is a freelance researcher, writer and presenter on music. She is fast becoming one of the UK’s most sought-after speakers on music, providing talks for a host of organisations including the Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, BBC Proms, Ryedale Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival. In addition, she regularly writes programme notes for the Salzburg Festival, North Norfolk Festival and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 3’s Record Review. Katy worked as Graham Johnson’s research assistant for his monumental Franz Schubert: The Songs and their Poets (Yale University Press, 2014) and is co-editor of Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Brahms in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2019). In addition to her research and presentation work, Katy has taught at the Royal College of Music, City Lit, the University of Nottingham and Middlesex University, working with students in performance workshops and music history classes. She has been teaching Music History courses at City Lit since 2015. She is also Public Events Programmer at the Foundling Museum in central London.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.