History of Western Music II: Classic/Romantic

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
MUSC 1220
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered


Course Description
This course explores western art music as cultural expression in Europe and the Americas from 1750 to 1900. Concepts and techniques of Classicism and Romanticism are studied in relation to selected works in representative genres. Critical thinking about music and active listening to music are emphasized. Competent research and writing skills are required.
Course Content
  1. The Early Classic Style in the Eighteenth Century, including the philosophy of the Enlightenment, galant and empfindsam styles in music, the rise of comic opera in the vernacular, the reform of Italian opera seria, keyboard music from harpsichord and clavichord to fortepiano, the development of sonata form, the early symphony in Italy and Germany, the rise of the public concert.
  2. The Classic Style in the Late Eighteenth Century, including Vienna as a centre for music, the life and music of Haydn and Mozart, sonata and string quartet, symphony and fortepiano concerto, Mozart as dramatist in Italian opera seria and opera buffa, the German singspiel, music and musicians in the Americas, the first opera and the growth of music in Canada.
  3. From Classic to Romantic with Beethoven, including the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon, Beethoven’s life and three creative periods, his will to live for art,  the defining act of the Eroica Symphony, the revolutionary opera Fidelio, the question of the Immortal Beloved, piano sonata and string quartet, symphony and concerto, Beethoven’s influence on composers of the nineteenth century.
  4. The New Romantic Style in Music, including romanticism in art and literature, music as the ideal romantic art, poetry and music in the German lied, new piano techniques and genres, the rise of the concert virtuoso, the middle-class market for music, the Industrial Revolution and innovations in instrument making, the program symphony and cyclic techniques, domestic and public music making in North America.
  5. Opera in the Nineteenth Century, including Italian opera seria and opera buffabel canto vocal styles and structure, French grand opera and opéra comique; German romantic opera, revolution and cultural nationalism in mid-century, Verdi’s life and music, Italian opera after Verdi, verismo and exoticism, Wagner’s life and music, the music drama as total work of art, lyric opera and operetta in France, English and Viennese operetta, Russian nationalism and opera, opera and musical entertainments in North America.
  6. Romanticism and Divergence in the Late Nineteenth Century, including the dichotomy between absolute music and program music, the symphonic poem and growth of the romantic orchestra, techniques of thematic transformation, the late romantic symphony and orchestral song cycle, chromatic saturation, German influence in France and the French classic tradition, Russian and Czech nationalism, composers in the Americas, Canadian musical life after Confederation.
Methods Of Instruction

Instruction will be primarily by lecture, enhanced by audio and visual materials. Flexibility in class presentation will allow for students to engage actively through question, comment, and discussion. Students will be assigned listening and reading for each class.  Lectures will provide general contexts for detailed study of representative pieces of music.  Supplementary library and online resources will be recommended.  Students will be informed of concert performances by professional organizations such as Vancouver Opera or Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which might serve as curriculum enrichment.  One or more appropriate field trips may be planned.

Means of Assessment
Regular short in-class quizzes (5-8) 10%
Completion of library tasks, online viewing, and/or event attendance   5%
Short assignments (3-5)  5%
Research and writing project(s) (maximum of two)       20%
Major listening tests (2) 20%
Major written tests (2) 20%
Final examination (listening and written components) 20%
Total  100%





Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, the successful student will be able to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of stylistic developments in western art music from the beginning of the classic period to the end of the romantic period, by the following means: aural identification of characteristics of representative pieces of music; visual analysis of representative musical scores; and written discussion of terms and topics appropriate to the time span of the course.  The student will also be able to discuss general ideological, social, cultural, and political aspects of classicism and romanticism.  Finally, the student will be able to demonstrate competent research and critical thinking skills in researching and writing on topic(s) appropriate to the periods being studied.


Textbook Materials

Students will be required to purchase the current edition of a standard text and anthology of scores, such as the following, along with online access to recordings.

Hanning, Barbara Russano.  Concise History of Western Music (Norton).

Burkholder, J. P., and Palisca, Claude V.  The Norton Anthology of Western Music. Volume Two: Classic to Romantic (Norton).







Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for MUSC 1220
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU MUS 121 (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU MUSI 1253 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU CA 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU MUSI 2XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU MUSI 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO MUSC 1st (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV MUSC 121 (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HUMN 1XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV MUSC 3XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC MUS 220A (1.5)

Course Offerings

Fall 2022