What is the course about?
We will explore French music in the 20th and 21st centuries and how the political and cultural context of France in that period affected the music written in that period. We will look at Debussy, Impressionism and the Ballet Russes; Satie in World War 1; and Ravel’s new music language. Messiaen in World War 11; Boulez and IRCAM in the cold war; and electronic music and Spectralism. How did historical context affect the music that was written in France at the time? How did particularly French ideas about patriotism and culture create this music? Tutor: Edward Henderson [external website].
What will we cover?
- A new harmonic language: Ravel
- Impressionism: Debussy
- Parade: Satie’s scandal in World War 1
- Quartet for the End of Time, Messiaen in World War 11
- Turangulîla, Messiaen
- High modernism, Boulez
- IRCAM and the cold war
- Contemporary French music.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- understand the key foundational ideas behind modernism and high modernism in music and how they made manifest in French art music
- understand the transformation harmony in the early part of the century
- understand the political and historical context for this repertoire
- be familiar with a wide range of new pieces from the period.
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 and scores occasionally). Some experience thinking and talking about movements in art and culture in 18th and 19th century would be useful but not necessary.
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.