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MUSC 284: Beethoven and His Era

Professor Mark Evan Bonds
Monday/Wednesday, 10:10 am – 12:15 pm

Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine. -Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven is widely regarded as the paradigmatic composer of the Western classical tradition. Almost two centuries after his death, his music continue to hold a central place in our culture. Aside from performances in concert halls and opera houses, his works appear in movies, commercials, and public events like the Olympics. In short, Beethoven continues to fascinate.

Part of the composer’s reputation rests on the extraordinarily human quality of his music: his works rarely sound effortless in the way that Mozart’s often do, and the very sense of struggle that we apprehend in so many of Beethoven’s compositions makes his music seem all the more real, personal, and immediate. As a result, listeners have long sought to establish links between the composer’s life and works. His struggle against deafness in particular has fascinated generations of listeners and has only added to the sense of both heroism and resignation that we hear in so much of his music.

Beethoven composed music in virtually every major genre of his time, both instrumental and vocal: symphony, concerto, sonata, string quartet, opera, song, and choral music, sacred as well as secular. Over the course of the semester, students examine at least one work from each of
these genres.

This course is a survey of the life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), with special emphasis on developing listening skills and an understanding of basic musical terminology. No previous musical experience is required. This course provides 3 credit hours towards graduation upon completion.

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