Music 784: Twentieth-Century Music I
Syllabus - Fall 2014

Dates: Classes will meet from 5:00 PM to 7:50 PM on Wednesdays on the following dates:

Please note that there are no classes on September 24. There will be a class on Wednesday, November 26, the day before Thanksgiving. The final exam is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday December 17.

Composers covered in classes: The following composers will be presented in classes:

It is advised that you take advantage of any opportunities to listen to and study any music by these composers.

Other major composers: In addition to the composers listed above, there are many other major composers whose music is very important in this period of music history, including at least the following:

Major ideas and issues: In addition to the music itself, the course will focus on three central issues concerning the music of the first half of the twentieth century:

(1) Tonality, extended tonality, and the transition to atonality. How did the concept of tonality evolve during this period?

(2) Twelve-tone serialism and other non-tonal methods of organizing musical materials.

(3) Other ideas ("-isms") that have influenced twentieth-century music: impressionism, exoticism, expressionism, primitivism, futurism, neoclassicism, nationalism.

Concert review: In order to familiarize yourself more with contemporary music, it is a good idea to attend concerts that feature it. All students must write a review of a concert that they attend. The concert must be devoted exclusively to new music. One or more of the composers should be in attendance, and it is even more beneficial if there is a pre- or post-concert discussion. (In particular, the organization Meet the Composer often sponsors such concerts.) Your review should include a detailed description of the music played, comparing it to other music studied and listing works and composers that it most resembles. In conclusion, you may include your own evaluative comments about the music, but this is not required. Your review may be turned in at any time, but it must be turned in by the last class, December 10. You should consider writing your review as something that could be submitted to a newspaper or new music periodical for publication.

Oral presentations: All students must give an oral presentation on the music of a composer of their own choice from the following list. The report must be handed in (by the end of the term) as a paper as well. The report must discuss the composer's biography, including his teachers or major influences, a list of his works, and the playing and discussion in class of at least one (perhaps more than one) work that you have studied with the score. This report should not be just a research paper, where you learn about the topic by reading what others have written. While you will have to rely on some published materials (including CD inserts, record jackets and the internet) for biographical materials, you should listen to the music yourself and come to your own conclusions about it. The report does not ask you to give your opinion about the music, but to describe it objectively and determine where it fits into the overall scheme of twentieth-century music. The composers are as follows:

Other composers may be added to this list as well.

Instead of doing a report on one of these lesser-known composers, you may instead do a report on the music of one of the other major composers listed above in item 3. In this case, you will need to give a more substantial report and paper. Your biography will have to be longer, and the paper may need to cover works and material that you are not be able to cover in your oral report.

Grading: Your final grade will be calculated as follows: final exam 45%, paper and class presentation 30%, concert review 15%, class participation 10%. Attendance is not required, but class participation cannot take place if you are absent. More than three absences will produce a zero for this category.