Music 308: European Music History IV: Twentieth Century

Instructor: David Schulenberg
Class meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:20-12:50. Campus Hall, Rm. 104
Office hours: to be arranged. Campus Hall, Rm. 110
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This course, intended for music majors, explores European and American art music of the twentieth century, including the styles and compositional techniques described as postromantic, impressionist, expressionist, atonal, twelve-tone, neoclassic, serial,  aleatoric, electronic, minimalist, and collage. During this period the European tradition of art music spread throughout the world, and previously established distinctions between “serious” and popular music, even between music and non-music, began to blur. In a course such as this it is possible to cover only a tiny selection of the vast amount of music created during this period. We will focus on a number of influential stylistic developments in Russia, Germany, France, and the United States.
The course has a strong analytic element. Students will be introduced to analytical methods developed during the twentieth century to explain contemporary developments in compositional technique. No previous training in twentieth-century analysis is required, however, and analytical considerations will be balanced with cultural and historical background.
Work for the course. The most important work for this course is listening. Although the compositions are generally shorter than the nineteenth-century works studied in Music 307, the unfamiliarity of much of this music will require many students to listen to selections repeatedly in order to get to know them well. Listening should be done both with and without the score. If there is a verbal text (as in opera and song), students should read the text in translation before listening and should attempt to follow the words in the original language while listening, with or without the score.
Reading assignments generally provide background to the listening assignments; they also raise questions for class discussion. You are expected to come to each class having done both the assigned reading and the assigned listening, prepared to answer questions and engage in discussion of the assigned works. At many classes a worksheet containing questions is distributed to help prepare for the next class. The questions range from straightforward factual items to philosophical and interpretive issues. These worksheets are not usually turned in, but each class member is expected to come prepared to answer or discuss any question on each worksheet. Thus you will find it helpful to jot down responses to the questions ahead of time.
Written assignments include a midterm and a final examination consisting of short-answer questions about the listening assignments. There are also two written assignments involving analytical techniques for atonal and twelve-tone compositions, respectively, as well as a class presentation on a computer, electronic, or jazz work by a living composer (this may comprise a live performance and/or group presentation; more information will be distributed in class).
Because of the importance of class discussion, attendance is mandatory. Exceptions are permissible for valid excuses or, in special instances, by pre-arrangement with me.
Textbooks. There are two required textbooks: Robert Morgan, Twentieth-Century Music (New York: Norton, 1991); and idem, Anthology of Twentieth-Century Music (New York: Norton, 1992).
Grades. Class attendance and participation constitute 10% of the final grade, with deductions taken for unexcused absences or lateness to class. The two written assignments, quiz, and class presentation each constitute 10%, midterm 20%, the final exam 30%.
Course Calendar
Class    Date      Read*    Topic**
1          Jan. 19   1             introduction; historical context
2            24        2             Mahler: Symphony no. 2, mvts. 1 and 3
3            26                       R. Strauss: Salome, sc. 1 (p. 9)
4            31                       Debussy: Nuages, from Nocturnes
5          Feb. 2                   Scriabin: Piano pieces (p. 21): opp. 35/3, 56/4, 74/3
6            7         3             Schoenberg (atonal): from Five Orchestral Pieces, op. 16, nos. 1,
(p. 30)
7            9          4            Stravinsky (early): from Rite of Spring (p. 107)
8            14        6             Ives: Fourth Symphony
first written assignment due
9            16  pp. 179-86   Bartók: Mikrokosmos, vol. 6: nos. 148/1, 140, 144 (p. 93)
10          21                      –. String Quartet no. 4
11          23        9            Schoenberg (12-tone): Piano piece, op. 33a (p. 64)
12          28                     Webern: Quartet, op. 28, 2d mvt. (p. 181); Berg: Wozzeck, Act 3
second assignment due
13         Mar. 2                Stravinsky (neo-Classicism): Symphony in C
14           7         13         Copland: from Rodeo (p. 270)
15           9                       listening examination
—           13-17                 spring break–no class
16           21       16          Stockhausen (serialism): Kreuzspiel, 1st mvt. (p. 376); Boulez:
Don from Pli selon pli
17           23       17          Cage: readings; Etudes australes
18           28       18          Penderecki: Threnody (p. 393)
19           30                     Berio: Sinfonia
20         Apr. 4                 Carter: A Mirror on Which To Dwell, no. 2 (p. 301)
21            6        19          Crumb: Night of the Four Moons, no. 1 (p. 386)
22            11                    Varèse: Hyperprism (p. 187)
—             13                    Passover/Good Friday–no class
23-4       18, 20  20         third assignment: presentations on contemporary music
25-6       25, 27  21         third assignment: presentations continued and review
May 9                  final exam
*numbers refer to chapters in Morgan, Twentieth-Century Music
**page numbers refer to Morgan, Anthology of Twentieth-Century Music