This course is for anyone who enjoys music and would like to understand more about its development, the composers and their social context.
Classes are in the Victoria hall with its excellent sound system. The lectures will be accompanied throughout by audio excerpts from key works.
Autumn Term: The Operas of Benjamin Britten
Britten was without doubt, the greatest British opera writer of the last Century. Over a period of some thirty years he produced a dozen important works for the opera house with a ballet and other incidental works thrown in. From “Paul Bunyan” to “Death in Venice” we find a wealth of different subjects ranging from dramas to productions on the grandest scale and, if his life had not been cruelly cut short at the age of 63, we almost certainly would have had many more. Although the repertoire he left us is of the widest scope he was, as he himself said, by nature a man of theatre, and the operas we have from his pen contain some of the greatest examples of this medium.
Over the twelve weeks of this course we shall look at this repertoire and discover why it represents one of the milestones of 20th Century music and is one of pinnacles of the resurgence of British music – a course which sadly we were unable to complete earlier in the year.
Spring Term: A Remarkable due – Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn
There have been few more remarkable families in history than the Mendelssohns, containing as it did a famous philosopher, the founder of a major bank, and two of the most remarkable musicians of their generation. Born some three years apart, Fanny and Felix had a very special relationship, which remained pivotal throughout their short lives. Being a woman Fanny was discouraged by the family from entering the music profession, marrying the painter Wilhelm Hensel. But despite this she carried on displaying her amazing talent through a salon which she set up in Berlin, and through her life was a considerable influence on her more famous brother who constantly sought her advice regarding his compositions.
During this course we shall explore this relationship and the remarkable works which they both produced over a tragically short period.
Summer Term: A Brief History of Conducting
Conducting is an art which only emerged comparatively recently as part of music history. It was the figure of Lully who made beating time famous, and who lost his life because of it. After this is was often the leader of the orchestra who directed with his bow, until Louis Spohr started using a baton instead. As music became more and more complex during the late 19th Century it became vital to have someone in front to control the twists and turns of Wagner’s operas, Mahler’s symphonies, Stravinsky’s rhythms etc., and out of this emerged the cult of the personality on the podium. Hans von Bülow was one of the first of these, and he has been followed by a whole string of famous names – Bruno Walter, Henry Wood, Otto Klemperer, Arturo Toscanini, Herbert von Karajan, Colin Davis to name but a few. We will have a look at some of these, and investigate their influence on the history of music, and ask why the sight of a figure moving his or her arms in front of a group of musicians has intrigued us as audiences and has caused them to be built up to the level of pop stars.
- Autumn Term: 15 September - 08 December (Half Term 27 Oct)
- PLEASE NOTE WE ARE ONLY TAKING BOOKINGS FOR THE AUTUMN TERM
- For safety reasons, numbers are limited to 25 students
- £160 non-member - 12-week term
- £130 member - 12-week term