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: Byrd's Quomodo cantabimus
    ONLINE
    Course start date:  Wed 24 Aug 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Edward Breen
    Explore the eight-voice motet Quomodo cantabimus (How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land) by William Byrd and learn how it may be interpreted as a reaction to the newly-protestant England in which he lived.



    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 £15.00 Concession £12.00
  2. Introduction to the orchestra
    Course start date:  Mon 19 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    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.
    Full fee £119.00 Senior fee £95.00 Concession £77.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  3. Exploring opera 1
    Last Few Places
    Course start date:  Mon 19 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Join us to explore the history of opera over three enjoyable terms. In this first term we’ll explore the ideas that fuelled origins of opera and the wonderful world of Baroque opera seria. Break week: 24 Oct 2022.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  4. Beethoven: the symphonies
    Course start date:  Tue 20 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Edward Henderson
    Explore Beethoven’s symphonic works. Beethoven in his career took the symphony from a Haydn-esque instrumental work into a humanity encompassing 90-minute extravaganza. This course charts that story. Break week: 25 Oct 2022.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  5. Exploring classical music: module 1
    Course start date:  Tue 20 Sep 2022 (and 2 other dates)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street (other locations are available)

    Tutors:  Karen Betley
    Do you want to know more about classical music? Explore selected topics and key works in Medieval to (early) Baroque music on this highly informative 10 week course. Ideal for people with no specialist knowledge. Break week: 25 Oct 2022.
    Full fee £169.00 Senior fee £135.00 Concession £110.00
    Rating:
    98% of 100
  6. World music: an introduction
    ONLINE
    Course start date:  Tue 20 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Sarha Moore
    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: 25 October 2022.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £219.00 Concession £142.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  7. Wagner's Ring Cycle
    Course start date:  Tue 20 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Karen Betley
    ‘Numerous musical beauties reign in the [Ring des] Nibelungen with a magical power to which we willingly and thankfully yield ourselves capture’. So wrote the critic Hanslick after the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876. Come and join us as we uncover those ‘musical beauties’ within the Ring. Break week: 25 Oct 2022.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  8. The long 19th century I: Romantics, poets and virtuosos
    ONLINE
    Course start date:  Wed 21 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Katy Hamilton
    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. Break week: 26 Oct 2022.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
    Rating:
    96% of 100
  9. Exploring classical music: module 3
    Course start date:  Thu 22 Sep 2022 (and 2 other dates)

    Location on this date:  Online (other locations are available)

    Tutors:  Neil Luck
    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. Break week: 27 Oct 2022.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £169.00 Senior fee £135.00 Concession £110.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  10. Topics in Renaissance music 1
    ONLINE
    Course start date:  Thu 22 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Patrick Allies
    Explore English renaissance music in the first part of our 3-term survey course. Break week: 27 Oct 2022.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  11. Musical criticism: a history
    Last Few Places
    Course start date:  Thu 22 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Katy Hamilton
    The ultimate arbiter of musical excellence, or an over-powerful journalist delighting in artistic insults? We will



    investigate the motivations and the changing role of the music critic from the late 1700s to today. Break week: 27 Oct 2022.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  12. Beethoven: the late string quartets
    Last Few Places, ONLINE
    Course start date:  Thu 22 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Karen Betley
    Come and explore Beethoven’s late string quartets - works which contain his final thoughts on the function of music, along with his final thoughts about the human condition. Break week: 27 Oct 2022.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £142.00
  13. Introduction to contemporary classical music
    Course start date:  Mon 31 Oct 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    Discover key works of contemporary classical music, considering how they function as artworks and also the political and social context in which they were written.
    Full fee £119.00 Senior fee £95.00 Concession £77.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  14. Miles Davis: from Bebop to Hip-hop
    Evening, ONLINE
    Course start date:  Wed 2 Nov 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Albi Gravener
    An in depth exploration of the music, life and times of this frequently innovative, often controversial but always influential artist. There is so much more to explore than “Kind of Blue” and “Sketches of Spain”.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £89.00 Concession £58.00
  15. Great works: White Christmas
    Course start date:  Mon 5 Dec 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Pauline Greene
    How did we all become so obsessed with snow in December? From Irving Berlin’s song to its use in several films and on stage, we look at the huge impact of this little ditty which has become the defining image of Christmas for many.
    Full fee £29.00 Senior fee £29.00 Concession £29.00

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