Music history

Music History Courses in London and Online

City Lit offers an extensive programme of online music history and music appreciation courses with a focus on Western classical music, Folk, Jazz, Rock and Pop. There are new topics each year across a growing range of music styles and traditions.

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.

Our staff are all professional musicians who teach, write, broadcast, lecture and perform widely. In recent years they have worked with BBC Radio 3, Gramophone magazine, Birkbeck (University of London), The Open University, Oxford and Cambridge University Press, Early Music, The Orchestra of the age of Enlightenment, The Wigmore Hall and the Aldeburgh Festival.

Many of our students learn for pleasure but some also come to enhance their careers: recent examples include board members of music charities, marketing and administration professionals from orchestras and gap-year students considering university entrance.

Feel free to browse our programme and do email us at music@citylit.ac.uk with any questions.

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  1. Great works: Stabat mater from plainchant to Pärt
    Course start date:  Thu 18 Apr 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Trish Shaw
    This course examines a core Latin Christian hymn text, Stabat mater dolorosa, which has received dozens of musical settings over eight centuries, from the 13th century to the present day. Why does this particular text hold such fascination for composers, and how has its meaning been interpreted through music?
    Full fee £39.00 Senior fee £39.00 Concession £39.00
  2. The symphony: a short history
    Course start date:  Tue 23 Apr 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Edward Henderson
    Explore the history and development of the symphony from JC Bach to Beethoven and into the twentieth century. Break week: 28 May 2024.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  3. Exploring classical music: module 3
    Course start date:  Tue 23 Apr 2024 (and 1 other date)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Edward Breen
    Do you want to know more about classical music history? Explore selected topics and key works in Romantic and modern music on this highly informative 10 week course. Ideal for people with no specialist knowledge. Please note this course has a mid-term break: 28 May 2024.
    Full fee £169.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  4. Exploring classical music: module 2
    Course start date:  Thu 25 Apr 2024 (and 2 other dates)

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Neil Luck
    Do you want to know more about classical music history? Explore selected topics and key works in Baroque to Classical music on this highly informative 10 week course. Ideal for people with no specialist knowledge. Please note this course has a scheduled mid-term break: 30 May 2024.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £169.00
    Rating:
    93% of 100
  5. Exploring opera 3
    Course start date:  Thu 25 Apr 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Join us to explore the history of opera over three enjoyable terms. In this third term we’ll explore Verdi, Wagner and the early 20th century. Break week: 30 May 2024.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
    Rating:
    95% of 100
  6. Operas in production
    Last Few Places
    Course start date:  Thu 25 Apr 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Looking at ten of the operas coming up in the 2024 season, we will discuss their composition, context, controversies and style, and then hear the story of the opera through musical examples. Break week 30th May 2024.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  7. Musical analysis for audiences 1
    Course start date:  Fri 26 Apr 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Exploring beneath the surface of a musical work can help us decipher programme notes, understand the work’s context and a composer’s intentions, and greatly enhance our enjoyment of a performance.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £103.00 Concession £90.00
  8. The music of Cuba
    Course start date:  Wed 1 May 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Shyam Shah
    Arguably, no other music has been as influential as Cuban music in the 20th century. From being the foundation of Salsa music in the Americas, to its return home in Africa, the Cuban sound has travelled far and wide. But how did this relatively small island in the Caribbean have such a large musical influence, and why was it so readily accepted?
    Full fee £119.00 Senior fee £95.00 Concession £77.00
  9. Musical analysis for audiences 2
    Course start date:  Fri 31 May 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Exploring further beneath the surface of a musical work can help us decipher programme notes, understand the work’s context and a composer’s intentions, and greatly enhance our enjoyment of a performance.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00
  10. An introduction to Gurbani Sangita
    Course start date:  Mon 15 Jul 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Cheslav Singh
    Gurbani Sangita is the music of the Sikhs; once widely present in the Indian subcontinent and beyond, a pinnacle of musical excellence, it is now nearly extinct. In this short session, many facets of this still potent, living tradition will be explored, including unique musical compositions, melodic modes, pedagogical processes and instruments.
    Full fee £39.00 Senior fee £39.00 Concession £39.00
  11. Great works: Rhapsody in Blue
    Course start date:  Thu 18 Jul 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    100 years ago a 26-year-old New York songwriter realised that his name appeared on a concert poster advertising An Experiment in Modern Music, featuring a piece composed by him. He had five weeks to complete it, and the result was Rhapsody in Blue.
    Full fee £29.00 Senior fee £29.00 Concession £29.00
  12. Vibrato: a short study
    Course start date:  Thu 18 Jul 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Edward Breen
    What is vibrato and how is it used? Learn about the history of vocal vibrato and arguments surrounding its use.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £29.00 Senior fee £29.00 Concession £29.00
  13. Great artists: Leonard Bernstein
    Course start date:  Thu 18 Jul 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a brilliant conductor, composer, and educator, and a sometimes controversial public figure. We explore his music in the context of the arts in America, looking especially at his effortless assimilation of popular and classical styles.
    Full fee £29.00 Senior fee £29.00 Concession £29.00
  14. Music history book club
    Course start date:  Fri 19 Jul 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Edward Breen
    The music history book club meets towards the end of each term to discuss novels and biography with musical themes and references relevant to the music history programme. This term’s book is The Jewels of Paradise: Donna Leon.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £19.00 Senior fee £19.00 Concession £19.00
  15. Classical music: an introduction
    Course start date:  Mon 22 Jul 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Are you interested in finding out more about classical music but not sure where to start? This taster course will



    introduce you to the history of music through a careful choice of works.
    Full fee £39.00 Senior fee £39.00 Concession £39.00
    Rating:
    80% of 100
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