Using a simple and enjoyable teaching style, this course introduces the novice listener to the wonders of classical music, from Bach fugues to Mozart symphonies to Puccini operas.
From the lesson
The Romantic Era
Module 8 will begin with a tour of Yale’s extraordinary keyboard collection; perhaps the finest of its kind in the world. We’ll see fully functioning instruments of all shapes and sizes, some dating back to the time of Mozart and before! We’ll learn the preferred brands and styles of some of the finest pianists of all time, Haydn, Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, and Schubert to name a few. We’ll even get to hear some of these instruments played by musical educator and concert pianist Robert Blocker. His performances will help us hear exactly how advances in technology changed the sound and capabilities of pianos during this time period. Our next session this module covers a rather polarizing topic: Opera. Many people find the Opera too artificial, too long, and sometimes just plain boring; others enjoy nothing more than this glamorous art form. We’ll spend some time making a case for the power and beauty, indeed the magic, of Opera. Maybe, we’ll be able persuade some naysayers along the way. Because it is impossible to encompass all of Romantic opera in an hour, we'll concentrate on the masterpieces of Verdi and the groundbreaking music dramas of Wagner. Perhaps the only figure who can reasonably by compared to Beethoven in terms of musical originality and innovation, Wagner changed the face of 19th century music. We’ll explore Wagner by briefly analyzing his Ring Cycle. This innovative cycle of librettos, based on Norse mythology, contains some of the most iconic and recognizable music from the period. Wagner's use of "leitmotifs” made detailed storytelling possible, with the music even conveying the subconscious thought of singers on stage, a truly revolutionary feat. His work would go on to serve as inspiration for writers and film makers such as Tolkien, Lewis, Lucas, and Martin, not to mention countless composers. In the final lesson of this module, we’ll expand our focus to look at the orchestra as a whole during the Romantic period. Just 60 years after Mozart led his thirty-five-player orchestra, it was not uncommon to see Wagner and Mahler conducting ensembles with well over 100 members. In addition to increased numbers, the instruments themselves changed. Technological advances, transformed previously one dimensional instruments, such as the French horn, into versatile tools, capable of projecting a completely chromatic melody. This newfound versatility allowed composers like Brahms and Mahler to experiment with and forever redefine orchestral instrumentation.