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.

You can now study in the comfort of your home with our online courses.

For a limited time you can enjoy 20% off our online courses with a start date from 1 September 2020 using discount code: NEWONLINE. (Terms & Conditions apply )

To participate in online classes you will need an email address, a reliable internet connection, a computer/laptop/tablet with fully updated browser (preferably Google Chrome). Your device will need a microphone, and preferably a camera. Many classes use Google Classroom.

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  1. Great musicians: Noël Coward

    Course Date: Fri 10 Jul 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Wit, performer, actor, writer, director and composer Noël Coward epitomised elegance and was the epitome of sophisticated Englishness for his generation. We investigate his life, work, successes and legacy. Prepare to be amused!

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £39.00
    Senior fee: £31.00
    Concession: £24.00

  2. Album history 2: Abbey Road (1969)

    Course Date: Mon 13 Jul 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Learn the history of The Beatles hugely influential eleventh album. The Beatles’ last recorded album, we will chart and discuss Abbey Road’s recording, reception, its context – the end of the 60s - and its enduring appeal. Tutor: Dr Toby Manning [external website].

    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: £23.00
    Concession: £18.00

  3. Music history book club: The Cello Suites

    Course Date: Wed 15 Jul 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    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 focusses on Bach. Please note this summer meeting will be held online.

    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

  4. Introduction to the music of Claude Debussy

    Course Date: Wed 15 Jul 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Debussy is one of the most recognisable early 20th century composers. His influence was far reaching. Come and explore several key works to find out what makes his style so distinctive, and his music so intoxicating.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £79.00
    Senior fee: £63.00
    Concession: £48.00

  5. Album history 3: The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

    Course Date: Mon 20 Jul 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    Learn the history of Pink Floyd’s hugely successful and influential eighth album. Chart the commercialisation of progressive rock in this album and discuss the reception history and enduring appeal of this work. Tutor: Dr Toby Manning [external website].

    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: £23.00
    Concession: £18.00

  6. Opera appreciation: an introduction

    Course Date: Mon 27 Jul 2020
    Location on this date: Online
    What is opera? And how do you approach it? Explore the ostentatious, sometimes overwhelming, world of opera through study of two major works and styles. Tutor: Pauline Greene [external website].

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £49.00
    Senior fee: £39.00
    Concession: £30.00

  7. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £29.00
    Senior fee: £23.00
    Concession: £18.00

  8. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £39.00
    Senior fee: £31.00
    Concession: £24.00

  9. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £129.00
    Senior fee: £103.00
    Concession: £79.00

  10. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  11. Exploring classical music: module 1

    Exploring classical music: module 1

    Course Date: Tue 15 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 (MD021B) which covers Baroque to classical. Ideal for people with no specialist knowledge. This course has a scheduled break week: 27 October 2020.

    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: £103.00

  12. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  13. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £209.00
    Concession: £127.00

  14. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

  15. 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. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee: £209.00
    Senior fee: £167.00
    Concession: £127.00

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