MUSIC OF NOTE ♫

ELIZABETH HANDLEY’S

HISTORY AND APPRECIATION OF MUSIC LECTURES, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

B. MISCELLANEOUS LECTURES

Each of these lectures may be reduced to a shorter duration, and further enriched with a PowerPoint presentation, upon request.

 

  1. VIVE LA FRANCE! A HISTORY OF FRENCH MUSIC IN A NUTSHELL

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

This lecture celebrates the music of France. We begin our journey with the Celtic bards of Roman times – think Cacophanix of Asterix fame – and the colourful period of Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, the Crusades, and the troubadours and minstrels that sang of great deeds, chivalry and of course – l’amour. We hear the first sacred music composed at Notre Dame in Paris, and the beautiful secular songs commissioned by the powerful Dukes of Burgundy.

Then we reach the French Baroque, and the glories of the Sun King Louis XIV’s magnificent court at Versailles. The Revolution and ensuing Napoleonic Era inspired music and theatre, both serious and comic, leading to the réalisme of Bizet, and his operatic contemporaries. With the Romantics there is the stage music of Delibes, Adam and Auber, several women composers, Berlioz, and the versatile Saint-Saëns. We enjoy the music of the Impressionists, led by Debussy, and come to the hitherto uncharted waters of the “contemporary” scene with the music of Varèse, Boulez and Messiaen.

 

  1. THE MUSIC OF EASTERN EUROPE – some Classical Favourites, and the Lesser- known Composers

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

This lecture takes us through Central and Eastern Europe, featuring not only the well-known giants such as Liszt, Bartok, Chopin, Penderecki, Dvorak and Smetana, but also the lesser-known composers whose music deserves more exposure and enjoyment.

We begin our musical tour in Hungary, and progress to Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. Nationalism was a driving force in Europe following the Napoleonic Period, and we explore how this powerful element influenced composers, especially in the previously occupied states, during much of the 19th century.

  1. RULE BRITANNIA! – A Celebration of British Music through the Centuries

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

This lecture, commissioned by the British and Commonwealth Association in Stockholm, was to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012.

We enjoy a festival of brilliant English music from the time of Henry VIII and the glorious Elizabethan Golden Age to the ceremonial music of Purcell and Handel. Thomas Arne and William Boyce fill the gap between Purcell and Elgar, which unjustly earned England the epithet “the Land without Music”. From Parry, Stanford and Holst we reach the modern repertoire of Walton and Britten, and end on a lighter note with Delius and the English Impressionists, and Ronald Binge of the Elizabethan Serenade fame.

  1. BRITISH MUSIC THROUGH THREE REIGNS

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

This lecture accompanied that presented by Nicolas Merchant in Johannesburg (SA) in 2008, in which he talked about English painting “Through Three Reigns” – those of George III, Victoria, and Edward VII. My area of focus was English music during the same period: from the time of Handel in the mid-18th century to the Victorian and Edwardian Eras.

We begin in 1760, the year of Hanoverian George III’s accession to the throne, the year after the death of one of the towering figures of the English Restoration Baroque, another German, George Frederick Handel. We leave behind the below-stairs ballad music of The Beggar’s Opera, and enter a phase of relatively little native English composition. But the London scene was greatly enriched by the arrival of several interesting visitors, among them the precocious child prodigy WA Mozart, JC Bach – one of Johann Sebastian’s gifted sons, Josef Haydn, and Mendelssohn. The pomp and circumstance of the Victorians – Elgar, Parry and Stanford is covered, Gustav Holst, and the ever-popular works of Gilbert and Sullivan. We end with William Walton’s Crown Imperial, commissioned by the BBC for Edward VIII’s Coronation – which never happened. It was played instead at the Coronation of his younger brother, George VI, the present Queen’s father.

 

  1. LOVE IN ALL ITS GUISES – Expressed in Music

(1 hour, with musical illustrations)

This delightful lecture was created at the request of the wife of the erstwhile British Ambassador to Stockholm, for a musical morning at the British Residence for the enjoyment of the Diplomatic Women’s Club.

We enjoy anecdotes from literature and opera, from medieval laments to the frivolities of Dean Martin, Gloria Gaynor and Marilyn Monroe, and discover how love has been the most powerful source of inspiration for poets, singers and composers, and many creative individuals, for generations.

We enjoy the many different kinds of love expressed in music: passionate, scorned, unrequited, jealous, lecherous, ill-fated, forbidden, and betrayed, love lost – and love found!

From ancient times to the present day, love has been the more popular subject for musical and artistic expression than any other.

  1. MUSIC AND ART IN RENAISSANCE ITALY – An Aural and Visual Feast

(2 hours, with musical and visual illustrations)

Renaissance thinkers cherished life as a divine gift, thus the artists of the time expressed religious devotion by painting warm, lifelike people, rather than the flat stylized figures of medieval art. Likewise, composers wrote music of a fuller, richer sonority than the stark and slender lines of the old Gregorian chants.

In this lecture the art and music of this most glorious period in the history of Western art is explored. Regarded as the beginning of “modern times”, the Renaissance swept away customs and institutions which had dominated Europe for a thousand years, such as feudalism, and the power of the Church. The country in which this magnificent flowering of the creative spirit first manifested was Italy. Join me, with music and slides, on a journey into the sound world of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and many others.

 

  1. IN A NUTSHELL – A HISTORY OF CLASSICAL MUSIC IN BRIEF – For the Uninitiated

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

This lecture, enlivened with amusing and historical anecdotes, traces the history of our Western art music from the “Dark Ages” after the Fall of the Roman Empire to the composers of the present day. We follow the history of Europe during each period, and the profound influence of current events on the work of the most significant composers and their contemporaries in the visual and literary arts. From Ambrosian chant in 4th century Milan to John Adams in the New World, this lecture aims to place each period and creative luminary into context, thereby acquainting the uninitiated with the basics of our Western Cultural heritage.

 

  1. A CHILD OF REVOLUTION – Introducing Beethoven

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

Ludwig von Beethoven, traditionally dubbed the “bridge” between the Classical and Romantic Eras, was the product of a revolutionary age. This lecture provides an introduction to one of the most disruptive forces in the history of Western music. The historical background to the18th and 19th centuries is covered, as well as an exploration of Beethoven’s personality, and his “musical fingerprints” – the unique and distinctive characteristics that make his music so distinctive.

Tragically hampered by gradually increasing deafness, his music nonetheless transmits a message of remarkable optimism, and universality; he wrote consciously, and deliberately, for posterity – us.

 

  1. PRECOCIOUS WUNDERKIND – Introducing Mozart

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was no innovator, but with his exceptional gifts he brought the existing “Classical” forms of his time to an extraordinary peak of beauty and perfection.  In this lecture the background to this exceptional genius is explored. We explore Mozart’s milieu in 18th century in Europe, activities in music and other creative fields, the Rococo, and the exact nature and aesthetic of “Classical” music – his oeuvre. It is the Age of Enlightenment, or of Reason, and it is shown how the significant philosophers of the time exerted a tremendous influence on the arts.

Included in the lecture is an exploration of Mozart’s quirky mercurial personality, and distinctive and instantly recognisable “musical fingerprints” – the characteristics that make his music uniquely his.

 

  1. A RUSSIAN ICON – Introducing Tchaikovsky

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

This lecture introduces us to Tchaikovsky by way of an exploration of the Western background to his work and his Russian heritage. We learn about his complex personality, fraught with the angst and suicidal conflicts of homosexuality, and his unique and instantly recognisable musical “fingerprints”.

We discover in Tchaikovsky’s music the continual struggle between despair and hope, between the passionate chaos of his emotional intensity, and the carefully structured ordering of its articulation through music. But apart from his preoccupation with Fate, and Slavic capacity for gloom, we enjoy his rich and colourful orchestration, his glorious melodies, and his gift for addressing us each individually – the key to his universal appeal.

 

  1. THE JS BACH JOURNEY

(2 hours, with musical and visual illustrations)

 

In this lecture we hear about this towering figure of the Baroque Era, a brilliant intellectual who contributed much to Western music through his skill in counterpoint and harmonic and motivic organisation, and through his adaptation of styles from abroad – specifically France and Italy. 

Based on my tour of Bach’s eastern Germany with a bespoke tour group, we begin as Bach did, in the small towns in Thuringia, progress to Weimar, and end, as he did, in the city of Leipzig. Included is his ancestry, and his place in historical context. We explore the aesthetic of the Baroque Era, and salute his significance in his development of an eclectic, energetic musical style in which foreign influences were combined with the pre-existing German musical language of his heritage.

 

  1. BECOMING “CULTURE- WISE” IN 1 EASY LESSON – Classical Music for Initiates

OR

  1. BECOMING “CULTURE- WISE” IN 2 EASY LESSONS – Classical Music for Initiates

(1- or 2- hour lectures with musical and visual illustrations)

In this lecture (or 2) we embark on a wonderful, colourful journey through the history of the arts from their significant beginnings in medieval Europe to the present day. Each period is explored, defined, and richly illustrated with slides and music.

During our time together I hope to impart my passion for the arts to you, and to encourage you to extend your learning experience with further reading and listening. For art is a reflection of the society in which we live, or of past societies that created them, and much of it is around us today, and I shall help you discover it.

 

 

  1. A LA MODE! A history of Music and Fashions

(2 hours, with musical and visual illustrations)

This lecture allows me to indulge my passion for both Western art and music, and to take you on a “cavalcade” of costume and music through the ages – a period of nearly a thousand years. While listening to the music of each era, we shall see what people were wearing at the time through the utilization of famous paintings, and with slides of period clothes.

In the study and appreciation of costume, the true essence of each period is revealed. We shall see how clothes and fashion provide a fascinating and intriguing visual insight into the social and psychological reasons for fashion – all linked to the music of the time.

 

  1.  AT THE MOVIES! – Music in Films

(2 hours, with musical illustrations)

This lecture, with an entertaining workshop element, explores various aspects of music used in films: existing Classical music, the use of “period” music for period films, and films about famous composers.

We begin with a brief history of the motion picture, and learn about significant sound track composers of both past and present. Included is the music of such movie music icons as John Williams, James Horner, John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Maurice Jarre, Hans Zimmer, as well as some ladies such as Rachel Portman of Chocolat fame.

 

  1. MOZART – THE LAST TEN YEARS

(With musical illustrations)

In this lecture we focus on the last ten years of this mercurial genius: from the moment he was expelled from the Archbishop’s palace in Salzburg and relocation to Vienna aged 25, until his death in the “musical capital of Europe” just short of his 36th birthday.

At a time when artists still worked under the onerous patronage system, Mozart tried to go it alone in Vienna as a freelance concert pianist and composer. At first he was successful, but his innovations began to prove ahead of his time. We shall also explore why this brilliant and apparently likable musician did not experience greater fame and fortune during his adult career, why he never succeeded in his endless quest for a permanent lucrative position at one of the courts in Europe, why he was often poor, and whether the intrigues against him were real or imagined.

We investigate the myths surrounded his premature death – including the alleged “poisoning conspiracy theory” involving Salieri, and the legendary burial in an “unmarked pauper’s grave”.

The wunderkind celebrated throughout Europe, showered with gifts and praised by Kings, and supported by his domineering father, is no more. No monument stands on the place of his burial. But we have the greatest monument of all: over 600 magnificent works, and wonderfully idiosyncratic letters, which allow us a glimpse into his method of work, his personality, and the 18th century world in which he lived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin It on Pinterest