Bringing Down the House: An Integrated History of Western Classical Music
In this class, the opera house serves as our guiding image as we explore the modern history of Western music through the prism of three broad themes: society, the arts, and technology. First, as we enter the awe-inspiring entrance hall — meeting ground for audiences before, during and after the concert — we’ll touch on topics ranging from social class to geo-politics, and from ideology to the birth of the music industry as we know it today. Next we’ll visit the pit and stage, where music and the arts all hit the limelight together, as we delve into the intersections between music, literature, cinema, poetry, theatre and philosophy. Finally, we’ll sneak backstage to glimpse the hidden wheels and cogs of technological innovation, both past and present, underlying and enabling the rich tradition of classical music, as we survey the musical and social implications of everything from the birth of sound recording to the Internet, from Informtaion Technology to artificial intelligence, from the Industrial Revolution to the Digital. Finally, while the class has a strong classical (or Art) music slant to it, the approach is in no way dogmatic or exclusive: other genres -- namely pop, jazz and folk -- will regularly enter into the equation. D.C.
Ultimately, the goal of the class is to gain a contextual and conceptual framework for thinking about, speaking about, listening to and appreciating music in a participative, English-speaking environment.