What is the course about?
From singing and acting in his childhood, Noël Coward became a seasoned performer during his teenage years in the First World War. A prodigious writer, he starred in his own works, and soon built up an almost cult following. Plays such as The Vortex in the 1920s were shocking in content (drugs, sex, betrayals) but high on witty epigrams, and his success continued during the 1930s, when he also wrote operettas such as Bitter Sweet. He recorded many of the songs, and entertained troops during the Second World War, then moved into cabaret and films.
We will take a brief look at his career and multi-faceted talent, as well as enjoying samples from his plays, songs and films, focusing on his musical output, while also considering his personal life and the context of his work in an age when homosexuality was regarded as something which was never openly stated in public.
What will we cover?
- Brief background to Coward’s style and the creation of his work
- Some general principles of his music and lyrics
- Some musical highlights.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Identify the general style of Coward’s music and lyrics
- Understand the circumstances of his life, work and success
- Appreciate and discuss some of the songs in the context of their times, and today.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Some knowledge of musicals is useful but not essential. No technical knowledge of music is required.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught using a range of techniques including short lectures, slide shows and discussions, practical demonstrations on the piano and guided listening sessions. Courses use a variety of materials including YouTube clips. Links to these are given on handouts so that further exploration may take place between classes if you wish.
Occasional short preparation tasks, such as listening to a piece or reading a review, may be set from time to time. Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and, once enrolled, further online resources will be available via Google Classroom.
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, books or DVDs recommended in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
If you enjoy learning about music you may like to consider our wide range of instrumental classes including piano classes taught in our digital piano suite. All beginners classes are suitable for those who don’t yet read music notation but are keen to learn.
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.