Some Thoughts As You Begin Reading - From Etan

Everyone:

Do not feel that you should have all of the reading done by the first class - as I said at the Introductory Class, I want to spend the greater part of this week discussing the system of European Music, and I haven't (deliberately) given you any reading on this topic.  I will blather at you (sorry - I'll try to control myself).  There's a lot of Maynard Solomon to read, but know that his writing style is quite inviting.  He's telling you a story - essentially - about Beethoven.  It's almost like a novel about a rather odd-looking, socially utterly inept, and rather brilliant artist who can't find love, who occasionally hangs out with prostitutes, and who lives an at-times difficult existence as a composer in (for a long period) Vienna.  There's very little scary theory in his writing.  In any event, the Solomon readings will blend in nicely with the first Chapter of Taruskin, which we will begin next week (Week 2), so you can be a bit leisurely in your approach to the Solomon. 

I hope that you will enjoy the listening - the first playlist is designed to give you a sense of where the Nineteenth Century in Europe comes from, and so there is a Haydn symphony and Mozart's last symphony, neither of which are very long.  There is also a bit of a piano sonata by Mozart which I will discuss in class this week (only the very opening, really).  When you get to it, and after we speak this week about harmony, you might find it profitable and interesting to compare the opening of Haydn's Surprise Symphony with the opening of Beethoven's First Symphony.  People often think of Beethoven's first symphony as quite "Classical" and not  romantic - I think that there's some seriously strange stuff going on in the Beethoven that makes it hard to think of it, without qualification - as classical.  We'll talk. 

Those of you who worry that your musical training is lacking for a course such as this should relax - I suspect that your ears, after being a member of a culture that uses the harmonic system with which we will deal, will hear a great deal of what I think of as important in this music.  Relax.  It's just music - nothing to get all nervous about.

And - I'd like everyone to note that in spite of myself I figured out how to post a note to you all here on this web-site.  I am a God of Technology.

- Etan
Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM