Music History Courses in London and Online

City Lit offers an extensive programme of music history courses with a focus on Western classical music, Folk, Jazz, Rock and Pop. There are new topics each year and some are designed to coincide with anniversaries, festivals and events. This year we celebrate 250 years since the birth of Beethoven.

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 our 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.

Many of our courses are delivered online. For more information about our live online courses, please see our guide to online learning.

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  1. Exploring classical music online

    Course Date: Tue 11 Aug 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    A world of music is available to you from the comfort of your own home, thanks to online platforms that both offer high-quality recordings of works – and provide you with information about composers and performers from the distant past to the present day. Come and discover how to access this wealth of material, and explore the musical insights it can provide, whether you are undertaking detailed research into a topic, or would simply like to find out a little more about the music you love.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £29.00
    Senior fee: £23.00
    Concession: £18.00

  2. Great artists: Thelonious Monk

    Course Date: Wed 12 Aug 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Learn about the life and history of the extraordinary and idiosyncratic composer and jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Gain greater insight as to why his music sounds the way it does, and how he constructed his compositions. You will do this by looking at the history behind several of his key compositions, the stories behind them, and use these songs as windows to illustrate aspects of his life. Through this, you will learn key points about his music and expand your listening skills.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £39.00
    Senior fee: £31.00
    Concession: £24.00

  3. Introduction to the orchestra

    Course Date: Mon 14 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    What’s an orchestra? And why does it need a conductor? We’ll examine orchestral instruments and many works to answer these questions, discovering a blend of exciting sounds which communicates the composer’s intentions to the audience.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £129.00
    Senior fee: £103.00
    Concession: £79.00

  4. Opera studies 1: Verdi in focus

    Course Date: Mon 14 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Epitomising the public mood, Verdi created operatic hit after hit, working with a selection of tolerant librettists, until his post-retirement blaze of glory. We focus on Nabucco, Rigoletto and Falstaff. This course has a scheduled break week: 26 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  5. Choral music from Handel to Weir

    Course Date: Tue 15 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    This course traces the role of choral singing and composition from that master of oratorio, George Frideric Handel, through the centuries to the choirs of today and how composers write for them. This course has a scheduled break week: 27 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  6. World music: an introduction

    Evening
    Course Date: Tue 15 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Explore a range of musical traditions from around the world: Indian raga and Bollywood; Ghanaian and South African grooves; Ottoman makam and Klezmer; Samba and Salsa. Listen for characteristic features and learn about the cultural settings in which they are produced. break week: Tues 27 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £209.00
    Concession: £127.00

  7. The music of Edward Elgar

    Course Date: Tue 15 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Elgar’s music has always provoked mixed reactions - to some it represented the conservative tradition, to others it was progressive. This course will explore the ‘Elgar Enigma’ and uncover the real composer - whose music beautifully represents the pre-WW1 mood. This course has a scheduled break week on 27 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  8. Exploring classical music: module 1

    Exploring classical music: module 1

    Evening
    Course Date: Wed 16 Sep 2020 (and 1 other date)
    Location on this date: Online
    Enrich your understanding of music history. This module explores selected topics in Medieval to (early) Baroque music, and leads on to next term's course (MD030B) which covers (later) Baroque to classical. Ideal for people with no specialist knowledge. This course has a break week on 28th October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £169.00
    Senior fee: £169.00
    Concession: £103.00

  9. Listening to the 20th century: module 1

    Course Date: Wed 16 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Using Alex Ross’s 'The Rest is Noise' as a guide, we'll investigate art music in the first half of the 20th century. This module covers Mahler’s last symphonies, fin de siècle Paris and the Ballet Russes, and Expressionism and the Second Viennese School. Break week: 28 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  10. Handel London operas 1

    Course Date: Wed 16 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Study the cultural history, plots and structure of Handel’s Italian operas written for London audiences between 1720 and 1728. Learn about recitative, aria-types and discover the stories behind these great works. This course has a scheduled break week on 28 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  11. A history of British classical music in the 20th century

    Evening
    Course Date: Wed 16 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    This course offers an overview of the diversity and development of British classical music in the 20th century. Structured chronologically, the examples studied draw attention to particular themes and forms which may help define British classical music culture more broadly. Where significant, this will be framed within social and political contexts of the time. This course has a scheduled break on 28th October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £169.00
    Senior fee: £169.00
    Concession: £103.00

  12. The long 19th century I: Romantics, poets and virtuosos

    Course Date: Thu 17 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Come and discover the roots of Romanticism and its musical pioneers, from Beethoven and Schubert to Meyerbeer and Paganini, as we explore the rich interaction of poetry, art and composition in the early 1800s. This course has a scheduled break week: 22 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  13. The essential history of jazz in 20 cuts

    Evening
    Course Date: Fri 18 Sep 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Through a selection of 20 iconic albums, we will study the key figures, the innovators and the star soloists of 20th century jazz, as well as some important artists you might be less familiar with. This course has a scheduled break week: 30 October 2020.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £199.00
    Senior fee: £159.00
    Concession: £121.00

  14. Introduction to contemporary music

    Course Date: Mon 2 Nov 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Discover key works of contemporary classical music, considering both how they function as an artwork and also the political and social context in which they were written, by exploring the exciting variety of new sounds and forms being created.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £109.00
    Senior fee: £87.00
    Concession: £66.00

  15. Nine lessons and carols: a brief history

    Course Date: Wed 2 Dec 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    What is a Service of nine lessons and carols? Where did it begin and how has it become associated with the chapel and choir of King’s College, Cambridge? Explore the cultural and musical history of this service in our short online course.

    This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
    Full fee: £29.00
    Senior fee: £23.00
    Concession: £18.00

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