Music in the Age of Enlightenment

627 TUTOR: Robin Nelson (MA)

The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe from the 1750s until the turn of the century and pretty much coincided with the so-called Classical period in music. You will explore how the Enlightenment found expression in music, particularly in Vienna in the final decades of the century. This was the time of Joseph II's reign as Emperor in a music-mad city that had Haydn and Mozart in its midst, both of whom emerged from the sheltered world of patronage to achieve artistic freedom. Then came Beethoven and the French Revolution, the Eroica Symphony and the Ode to Joy. Expect a booklet, lots of listening and some film extracts.

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627
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£225.00
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Course Notes

The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe from the 1750's until the turn of the century, and pretty much coincided with the so-called Classical period in Music. Inevitably it is the music of the four Viennese masters; Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven that will take centre stage in this course. We will see, for example, the String Quartet develop from a piece of background music dominated by the first violinist, to a conversation between four instruments of equal importance and in Beethoven's hands to a music which challenged the listener with a high level of intellectual and emotional content.

We will explore how the Enlightenment found expression in music, particularly in Vienna in the final decades of the century. This was the time of Joseph 2nd's reign as Emperor in a music-mad city which had Haydn and Mozart in its midst, both of whom emerged from the sheltered world of patronage to achieve increasing artistic freedom. As members of a masonic guild both were influenced by men of letters such as Baron van Swieten, who broadened their outlooks, introduced Mozart to the music of Bach, and wrote the libretto of Haydn's "The Creation” and "The Seasons”.

 

The importance of man's connection with the natural world was one of the preoccupations of enlightened thinkers such as Rousseau and various works echo that interest as we will find with Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony” and Schubert's wonderful "Trout Quintet” and in many of his songs. As the masonic movement faltered in Vienna at the end of the century Mozart's sublime ”Magic Flute” in some ways stands as a musical memorial to its values and traditions.

 

I will aim to feature other Beethoven symphonies which are relevant to the theme of Enlightenment, in particular "The Eroica” with its famous initial dedication to Napoleon (and subsequent scratching out!) and the "Choral Symphony” with its message of brotherhood and victory for humanity in Schiller's "Ode to Joy”. And then there is "Fidelio”, Beethoven's only opera, about a man imprisoned for speaking truth to the discomfort of his superiors, who emerges from darkness to light, imprisonment to freedom thanks to the bravery of his faithful wife Leonora.

 

With plenty more besides you are promised a busy week. I provide an informative course booklet, lots of CD, DVD and You Tube extracts and some scores to follow as we listen to certain pieces. It will be useful but not essential to be able to read music and have some basic theoretical knowledge.

 

I look forward to providing a varied and interesting week of great music.

 

Course Tutor

Robin Nelson

MA

About Robin

Robin Nelson has been a well established Tutor at the Summer School since his time as Director of Music at the College (1982-2003).  

He has run a series of Music Courses on a wide range of topics: Ludwig van Beethoven, Great Musical Cities and so on.

Retired and living locally, with 25 years of experience as a music examiner, Robin runs music courses from his home and gives talks and lectures on a whole range of musical topics.

The Birdwatch course, "Spot that Bird”, is a long-standing fixture at the Summer School, giving participants an opportunity to share his passion for all things ornithological in a variety of delightful Wiltshire habitats.

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