History of Western Music III: 1800-1900

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
MUSC 2320
History of Western Music III: 1800-1900
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hours per week
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

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, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, or Vancouver Recital Society, which might serve as curriculum enrichment.  One or more appropriate field trips may be planned.

Course Description
This course explores music as an artistic and intellectual expression of European culture during the Romantic era. Students study music in relation to the other arts and in its social, cultural, and political contexts. Critical thinking about music and active listening to music are emphasized. Understanding of historical musical styles, forms, and genres is developed through analysis of compositional techniques and awareness of performance practices. Competence in researching and writing about music is expected. The ability to read musical scores and to understand theoretical concepts is essential for success in this course.
Course Content
  1. From Classicism to Romanticism:  Beethoven
    • The French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
    • The beginnings of the Industrial Revolution
    • Effects of cultural, social, political and economic change on Beethoven
    • Beethoven’s early creative period; piano sonata, string quartet, symphony
    • Beethoven’s middle period; Heiligenstadt Testament; Eroica Symphony
    • Beethoven’s revolutionary opera Fidelio; the Immortal Beloved
    • Piano sonata, string quartet, symphony and concerto in the middle period
    • Beethoven’s late style; piano sonata, Mass, Choral Symphony, string quartet
    • Beethoven’s influence on composers of the nineteenth century
  2. The New Romantic Style in Music
    • Life after the Congress of Vienna; the decline of patronage
    • The market for music in the middle-class; rise of the concert virtuoso
    • The Industrial Revolution and innovations in instrument making
    • Romanticism in art and literature; music as the ideal Romantic art
    • Poetry and music in the German Lied; role of the piano in song
    • The Romantic piano; new techniques, styles, and genres of composition
    • Music of Schubert, the Schumanns, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Liszt
    • The Romantic orchestra; Classicism and Romanticism in the symphony
    • Berlioz and the program symphony; cyclic techniques
    • Classicism and Romanticism in chamber music, concerto, and choral music
    • Domestic and public music making in North America
  3. Opera in the Nineteenth Century
    • Early nineteenth-century in Italy: Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti
    • Italian opera seria and opera buffa;  bel canto styles and structures
    • Meyerbeer and grand opera in France; French opéra comique;  ballet
    • Weber and German Romantic opera
    • Revolution and cultural nationalism in mid-century
    • Verdi’s life and music; early, middle, and late Italian operas
    • Italian opera after Verdi:  Puccini, verismo and exoticism
    • Wagner’s life and music; the music drama as total work of art
    • Artwork of the Future:  Wagnerian motivic and harmonic innovation
    • Lyric opera in France; operetta in France, England, and Vienna
    • Russian nationalism and opera; Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky
    • Opera, operetta, and musical entertainments in North America
  4. Romanticism and Divergence in the Late Nineteenth Century
    • The dichotomy between absolute music and program music
    • Brahms as Romantic Classicist in instrumental and vocal genres
    • Liszt and the symphonic poem; techniques of thematic transformation
    • Wagnerian influence on Bruckner’s symphonies; Cecilian choral music
    • Wolf and the late Romantic Lied; chromatic saturation
    • Strauss and the symphonic poem; new techniques of orchestration
    • Mahler and the late Romantic symphony and orchestral song cycle
    • German influence in France and the French Classical Tradition
    • Russian nationalism; orchestral music of the Mighty Handful
    • Czech nationalism; orchestral music of Smetana and Dvorak
    • Nationalism in other countries in Europe and the Americas
    • Canadian musical life after Confederation; music of Lavallée
Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, the successful student should be able to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of stylistic developments in western art music during the nineteenth century 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 Romantic period and its music.  The student should also be able to discuss general social, cultural, and political aspects of Romanticism.  Finally, the student should be able to demonstrate competent research and critical thinking skills in the writing of a major essay on a topic appropriate to the period being studied.

Means of Assessment
Regular short quizzes (6-8) 10%
Short library assignments (2-3) 5%
Major research and writing project 25%
Major listening tests (2) 20%
Major written tests (2) 20%
Final examination (listening and written) 20%
Total  100%
Textbook Materials

Students will be required to purchase a standard text, such as the following, along with its accompanying score anthology for use in all courses in the music history survey:

  • Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music, 7th ed.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006.

Students will also be required to purchase a reputable music dictionary, such as:            

  • Randel, Don Michael. The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.

MUSC 1220 or permission of instructor

Which Prerequisite