MUSIC OF NOTE ♫

ELIZABETH HANDLEY’S

HISTORY AND APPRECIATION OF MUSIC LECTURES, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

B. GENERAL COURSES

  1. THE FAMOUS COMPOSERS’ “MUSICAL FINGERPRINTS”
  2. AN INTRODUCTION TO OPERA (6)
  3. ENCHANTING THE EYE AND THE EAR (5)

  1. MUSICAL “FINGERPRINTS” COURSE

MUSICAL “FINGERPRINTS” – RECOGNISING THE FAMOUS COMPOSERS BY THEIR UNIQUE MUSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

(5 x 1 or 2-hour lectures)

What is it that distinguishes the music of one composer from another? What makes it so uniquely individual?

In this course the “musical fingerprints” of the most significant composers is explored, and clues revealed as to what makes their music immediately recognisable as theirs alone.

We embark on a journey through music history beginning with the two towering figures of the Baroque Era: Bach and Handel. Their music epitomizes the grandiose extravagance and complexity of the Baroque aesthetic through the use of polyphony (many sounds) – the interweaving of parallel strands of melody – in instrumental and choral music. Handel delighted audiences with his flamboyant opera and then oratorio masterpieces, while Bach’s scholarly approach united the intellectual and emotional drives of the human spirit. While living contemporaneously at the height of the Baroque, one Catholic, the other staunchly Lutheran, their music carries distinctive musical signatures that makes it quite distinguishable one from another. I shall demonstate how.

The quintessential Classical masters, Haydn and Mozart, bring us to the Age of Reason, and a simpler mode of musical expression emphasizing clarity, order and above all, taste. Different in lifestyles, personality, and modi operandi, their music might at first hearing sound rather similar. On closer examination, we shall find that there are indeed distinct differences. 

Beethoven – a Child of Revolution – transported music from the refined, exclusive salons of the Enlightenment into the turbulent Sturm und Drang – and public arena – of Romanticism, while Brahms the arch-conservative couched Romantic expression in Classical forms. Brilliant German structuralists both, their musical differences and unique, personal musical sounds shall be revealed.

The journey continues with three quintessential Romantics: Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Liszt – each very different – and their emotionally-charged, individualistic styles of composition and musical expression.

The course concludes with the Post-Romantics: Mahler and Richard Strauss, composers who, in their adventurous handling of harmony, texture and orchestration, paved the way for the cataclysmic musical events of the early twentieth century. They were both significant conductors, who contributed much to the art of conducting, and brought to their scores their own distinctive musical language.

COURSE SCHEDULE

LECTURE 1: BAROQUE MASTERS: Bach and Handel

LECTURE 2: THE CLASSICISTS: Haydn and Mozart

LECTURE 3: GERMAN CLASSICO-ROMANTICS: Beethoven and Brahms

LECTURE 4: ARCH-ROMANTICS: Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Liszt

LECTURE 5: POST-ROMANTIC CONDUCTOR-SYMPHONISTS: Mahler and Richard Strauss

 

  1. OPERA COURSE

THE STORY OF OPERA – AN INTRODUCTION FOR THE UNINITIATED

 (5 or 6 x 1 or 2-hour lectures)

                                  La Scala, Milan

This series of five lectures, covering the fascinating story of opera from its early beginnings in Ancient Greece to the modern works of today, is richly illustrated with a wealth of popular favourites as well as hidden gems, featuring some of the most celebrated voices in operatic history, both past and present.

The first lecture explores the roots of opera in Ancient Greece and the Middle Ages, experiments in Renaissance Florence, and its emergence during the Baroque Era at the magnificent court of the Sun King at Versailles to the form we know today.

The second lecture features Mozart’s oeuvre – the German Singspiel and Italian opera seria and opera buffa – his significant contribution, and his influence on the succeeding generation of post-Revolution French and German opera composers: Gounod and Bizet, Weber and Beethoven.

The third lecture includes developments in Italy from the early Romantics (Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini) to the towering figures of Verdi and Puccini. Included are their significant contributions to operatic stage craft and production, and the consequent elevation of composers from obedient servants to assertive directors.

The Late German Romantics, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, feature in the fourth lecture, whilst the last lecture focuses on significant Russian and 20th century works – from Boris Godunov to Wozzeck – and operas of our own era. The conclusion is on a lighter note, with the rock operas of Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

A magnificent synthesis of the arts since Ancient Times, opera celebrates brilliant contributions in every field of creative endeavour: acting, mime, dance, lighting, costume-and scenery-design, and above all, MUSIC.

If you have fled opera until now, then this is the course for you!

COURSE SCHEDULE:

LECTURE 1: Early beginnings in Ancient Greece and the Middle Ages; Renaissance and Baroque opera

LECTURE 2: Mozart, and early 19th century Romantic opera in France and Germany

LECTURE 3: The Italians: from Rossini to Puccini

LECTURE 4: The Two Richards: Wagner and Strauss

LECTURE 5: The Russians, key 20th century works, and Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

 

  1. ENCHANTING THE EYE AND THE EAR COURSE

 ENCHANTING THE EYE AND THE EAR – A VISUAL AND AURAL FEAST!

 (5 x 1- or 2-hour lectures with musical illustrations and PowerPoint slide shows, where relevant )

The history of both music and the visual arts is commonly presented in a series of “periods”. The utilisation of these abstract constructs enables us to grasp the ways in which changes and developments took place over time. These “periods” – explored in the first lecture – formed in retrospect many years after the fact, correspond to current events that took place in society as a whole, and help us to understand these changes.

In the second and third lectures guidelines will be provided for perceptive listening, and understanding the use of signs and symbols in paintings.

It well known that music and the visual arts have evolved side by side, and viewing them in parallel can yield exciting and illuminating discoveries.

The course is abundantly illustrated with visual and musical illustrations. 

COURSE SCHEDULE 

LECTURE 1: THE MAIN PERIODS IN THE ARTS IN A NUTSHELL: A chronological overview including key figures and forms.

This introductory lecture presents a chronological overview, clarifying the various periods, and the significant factors and characteristics that enable us to distinguish them from each other. This overview includes the key figures of each period, their styles, and their significant contributions.

LECTURE 2: How to LISTEN to music: Improving our listening skills, thereby to enhance our understanding and appreciation of music.

The understanding of the art of the past requires certain perceptual skills – techniques for looking and listening that enable us to understand what the artists wished to communicate. Once acquired, these skills greatly enhance our understanding of, and pleasure in, great works of music and art.

LECTURE 3: How to READ a painting: Exploring the significant details in paintings, including themes and motifs and their symbolic significance.

LECTURE 4: Musical instruments featured in paintings: Identifying the instruments of old, and hearing how they sounded.

LECTURE 5: TEXTURES in art and music: Exploring how painters depicted the qualities of objects and fabric, and the comparative sounds – or “warp and weft” – in music.

The final lecture explores techniques used in depicting the textures of objects and fabrics in paintings, and drawing parallels with the complex polyphony of music. We explore how these tricks and techniques were used to dramatic effect.

OR

LECTURE 5: Music inspired by Paintings, and Paintings inspired by Music: the intersection of these arts and their mutual inspiration and influence upon one another.

The final lecture explores the interrelation of music and painting, and their fascinating effects upon one another.

 

 

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