Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake: the ballet and its music

Course Dates: 27/02/19 - 27/03/19
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Pauline Greene

Tchaikovsky braved criticism by composing cutting-edge music for ballet, when operas and symphonies were all the rage. We look closely at the resulting innovative work and how it changed ballet music for ever.


What is the course about?

Tchaikovsky’s first ballet score was ‘Swan Lake’, inspired by a little ballet written for his sister’s children, and completed in 1876. We will trace the history of the ballet which is now so familiar, but which did not receive a sympathetic choreographic treatment until after Tchaikovsky’s death. We will look at the story, the music, how the score works with the choreography, and also discuss the stylistic revolution that Tchaikovsky brought to composing for the ballet. Tutor: Pauline Greene [external website].

What will we cover?

- The plot of the ballet (and some of its variants)
- A detailed look at Tchaikovsky’s music and the choreography by Ivanov and Petipa for the ballet in 1895
- An examination of the changes in musical style between ‘standard’ Russian ballet music and that of Tchaikovsky exemplified in this work.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

By the end of the course you should be able to:
- Understand Tchaikovsky’s innovative musical style and narrative input in this ballet music
- Consider and discuss how the choreography fits the music and narrative
- Analyse the way in which Tchaikovsky, Petipa and Ivanov created this iconic work.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is open to anyone interested in music and dance, and no technical musical or choreographic knowledge or vocabulary is required. Where this is used in class it will be explained by the tutor.
You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English, and engage in class discussions.

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 of music or reading about a person or style, may be set from time to time. Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and, once enrolled, further resources will be available via Google Classroom.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no additional costs as part of the course. Students may like to purchase books, CDs or DVDs as a result of studying, but none will be used as required class material, and should in any case be readily available from libraries.
Students may like to bring paper and pen for taking notes during the sessions.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

A forthcoming class taught by Pauline and combining music and dance of a very different kind will be held in the summer term 2019. Cole Porter: I Get A Kick Out Of You, looking at the songs, lyrics and musicals by this outstanding popular composer.

To find out more about music history and appreciation classes and to read some of our recommendations, please see the blog post Music history and appreciation: the 2018/19 programme which lists our full programme of classes listed by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.

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.

You may wish to support your learning through a focus on reading, writing and hearing music and musical patterns. For more details about musicianship and music theory please visit our blog: Musicianship and music theory at City lit which lists our full sequence of musicianship and music theory classes.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: MD665B

Wed, day, 27 Feb - 27 Mar '19

Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)

Full fee: £99.00
Senior fee: £79.00
Concession: £60.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2630

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.