Mus 593S: The History of Styles in Western Music University of Massachusetts Amherst

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MUS 593S: The History of Styles in Western Music

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Mondays, 5-7:30pm, FAC 155

Fall 2013

Professor Louis Epstein


Office Phone: 413-545-4077

Office hours: Wednesdays, 11am-12pm, FAC 260

Course website:
This course provides an intensive survey of the styles of Western music throughout history, with a focus on exploring great musical works and their historical contexts. You will be able to describe, analyze, and distinguish among the major styles, forms, genres, and artistic periods from antiquity to the present day. We ask three basic questions in this course: What is the characteristic music of a time and place? What does that music sound like? How does it relate to the music that came before and the music that went after? We’ll also ask a thornier question: How is music history made by those who write about it, including us?

The course will center on the close study of works that are part of the established canon of Western art music. You’ll engage closely with important scores by composers including (but not limited to) Machaut, Du Fay, Josquin, Palestrina, Monteverdi, J.S. Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Verdi, Wagner, Mahler, Debussy, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky.

The main texts for this course are Douglass Seaton, Ideas and Styles in the Western Musical Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010) and Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin, eds., Music in the Western World: A History in Documents (New York: Thomson Schirmer, 2008). You should purchase these two texts at Amherst Books. Occasionally I will assign analyses from J. Peter Burkholder and Claude Palisca, eds., Norton Anthology of Western Music (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010). All three can be found in the Music Reserve Lab (FAC 149A).
Required Music and Scores

Each week, you’ll be responsible for listening to pieces, some of which we’ll discuss in class, and some of which you’ll explore outside of class through assignments. Thanks to the Internet, just about everything we listen to should be available on Spotify and YouTube. I’ll create a Spotify playlist to which you should subscribe. (Spotify is free and it’s easy to sign up, so please do this immediately.) You can also find recordings of most of the music we study on the 6th floor of the Du Bois Library and in the Music Reserve Lab. If you encounter a problem finding or accessing music, let me know.

You’ll be responsible for bringing scores to class. Much of the music we’ll study can be accessed through the Petrucci Music Library ( I’ve placed some score anthologies in the Music Reserve Lab (FAC 149A), and you can also find scores in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. I’ll also provide you with relevant materials electronically when I can.

Texts for many of vocal works can be found at http:/


You will be responsible for completing several different kinds of assignments, all of which will aid you in listening closely and critically to music and in distinguishing among styles in music history. You should plan to spend at least 3 hours per week reading, listening, and writing.

• Participating actively in class discussions and activities requires that you do the assigned reading and listening before each session. You should also come to class prepared to play instruments, sing, argue, act, and sometimes dance. Active participation leads to active – and lasting – learning.

• You will write at least twelve entries in a listening journal (at least 300 words each) in blog form (detailed instructions below). Your blogs will become study tools, helping you work through the listening each week and giving you a chance to practice connecting pieces and ideas from diverse times and places. The listening and writing you do for the blog will prepare you for the quizzes and final paper. Listening journals will be graded pass/fail (e.g., complete/incomplete) up to 25% of your final grade; the final 5% will be awarded based on merit. The best listening journals will engage in conversation with other classmates’ writing; will incorporate multimedia (images, audio, video, hyperlinks, etc.); and will reference not only course materials but other pieces, styles, or practices that interest and engage you personally.

• Once over the course of the semester, you will lead the seminar (20 minutes). Your main task is to teach your classmates about an assigned composition and lead discussion on your topic. You’ll provide historical context, guide our listening to the piece (asking questions to draw out elements that seem important), and start a discussion that connects the piece with the reading. To help you prepare your presentation and discussion questions, you’ll complete a short research assignment that will acquaint you with important library resources (see details below).

Four in-class quizzes will include identifications and short essay questions on scores and listening examples. They will be cumulative throughout the semester, so make sure you continue listening to and thinking about medieval music when we get to the 20th century. I’ll drop the lowest quiz grade. Quizzes will take place 9/23, 10/21, 11/13, and 12/2.

• Your final paper (6-10 pages) should build on work and ideas that emerge from your blog posts and your class presentations. In your final paper, you will propose a radio program that unifies disparate works under the umbrella of a central concept or lens that we’ll use throughout the class to help us organize music history. These concepts include the following: pleasure, appropriation, control, genius, progress, and the musical museum. We may add to this list as the semester goes on. The final paper should respond to the following prompt:

You have been hired to replace John Montanari as Music Director at WFCR. To start your tenure there with a splash, you have chosen to put together a two-to-four hour radio program around the idea of pleasure, appropriation, control, genius, progress, or the musical museum. Your audience appreciates an eclectic mix of pieces from all times and places, and you have access to all existing recordings, even archival ones usually unavailable to the public. Write a 6-10 page proposal for your first radio show.

Guidelines: Your program should include at least 8 pieces we have studied (including pieces on the listening list but not discussed in class). You may include pieces we have not studied as well, but keep the overall duration of the program under four hours. Among the chosen pieces we have studied, the periods 800-1300, 1300-1500, 1500-1700, 1700-1800, 1800-1900, and 1900-present should all be represented by at least one piece each. The other 2+ pieces can come from any era or style. Your discussion of the pieces should focus on their ability to communicate the theme of your program to listeners. Their ability to communicate themes like power, pleasure, etc. depends on their sonic attributes as well as the stories of their production, performance, and reception, and details concerning their stylistic and historical contexts. Whenever possible, you should support your assertions with evidence from the readings we have done. You are not required to do research for this paper, but you may find it helpful to consult certain digital and print resources. You should always cite the sources of ideas that are not your own, including conversations in or out of class.
Your final paper is due in the Moodle dropbox Monday, December 9 at 5pm.
Grading Breakdown

Listening Journal: 30%

Presentations: 10%

Quizzes: 15%

Final Paper: 25%

Attendance and Participation: 20%

Collaboration Policy

For all assignments, including the final paper, you may consult and refer to sources, and you may choose to study and listen with your classmates and others. But the work you submit must be entirely your own, and you must give credit to others where they have informed your ideas or examples. On all assignments, please identify any student or other person you consulted or who consulted with you. Also, please cite any resources to which you referred. As with any course, you are expected to maintain the highest standards of integrity in your work.

Disabilities Policy

In accordance with University policy, if you have a documented disability and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please inform me at the beginning of the semester and provide the appropriate information from Disability Services (


Your attendance in class is crucial to your success. Don’t miss class.

Schedule of Sessions and Topics - Please complete all reading and study the music before the session under which they are listed.

Key: In the reading section, S refers to the Seaton textbook and WT refers to Weiss/Taruskin 2008. (In the 1984 edition of the Weiss/Taruskin volume on reserve the chapter numbers aren’t identical to the 2008 version, which you can get at Amherst Books. So if you’re using the 1984 version, check before reading!) For both S and WT, numbers refer to chapters, not pages, unless indicated. Listening assignments are provisional; we may decide to change the specific pieces we study depending on the interests of the class. Each week you will receive an updated listening assignment.
Session 1 (Monday, September 9)

Antiquity to Medieval Monophony (200 B.C.E. - 1300 C.E.)
Reading: S Skim 1-2, Read 3–4 WT 3, 4, 8, 10, 12, 15

Listening: Anonymous, Viderunt omnes; Anonymous, Kyrie eleison (Christmas Mass); Anonymous, Dies irae; Bernart de Ventadorn, Can vei la luzeta mover; Comtessa de Dia, A chantar; Adam de la Halle, Robins m’aime

Session 2 (Monday, September 16)

Early Polyphony (900–1300)

***Meet in Calipari Room, Lower Level of Du Bois Library***

Guest Lecture: Music Reference Librarian Pam Juengling,
Reading: S 5 WT 16, 17

Listening: Léonin, Viderunt Omnes; Pérotin, Viderunt Omnes, Anonymous, Ave Virgo Virginium; Anonymous, Motets on Tenor Dominus; Adam de la Halle, De ma dame vient/Dieus, comment parroie/Omnes
Session 3 (Monday, September 23)

The Ars Nova (1300–1400)

Quiz #1. First Presentations.

Reading: S 6 WT 18, 20
Listening: Philippe de Vitry, In arboris/Tuba Sacre fidei/Virgo sum and Garrit gallus/In nova fert/Neuma; Guillaume de Machaut, “Kyrie” from Messe de Nostre Dame and Rose, liz, printemps; Anonymous, Sumer is icumen in; Francesco Landini, “Non avrà ma pietà”
Session 4 (Monday, September 30)

Humanism (1400–1600)
Reading: S 7, 8 (to p. 120) WT 21, 22, 24, 26

Listening: John Dunstaple, “Quam pulchra es;” Guillaume Du Fay, “Kyrie” from Missa l’homme armé; Josquin Des Prez, “Kyrie” from Missa l’homme armé sexti toni; Gilles Binchois, “De plus en plus;” Henricus Isaac, Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen; Du Fay, Nuper Rosarum Flores/Terribilis est locus iste

Session 5 (Not Monday, October 7 – To Be Rescheduled)

Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Late Humanism (1500–1600)
Reading: S 8 (120 to end), 9-11 WT 27 (up to p. 88), 30, 35–39, 43

Listening: Jacques Arcadelt, Il bianco e dolce cigno; Cipriano de Rore, De le belle contrade d’oriente; Martin Luther, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland and Ein’ feste Burg; Pierluigi da Palestrina, excerpts from Missa Papae Marcelli; Luca Marenzio, Solo e pensoso; Carlo Gesualdo, “Io parto” e non più dissi; Giovanni Gabrielli, Canzon septimi toni a 8, from Sacrae symphoniae

Session 6 (Tuesday, October 15)

Rationalism and Early Opera (1600–1700)
Reading: S 12, 13 (only to p. 191), 14 (only to p. 209) WT 44–46, 48, 52, 55, 69

Listening: Claudio Monteverdi, Cruda Amarilli and excerpts from Orfeo; Jean-Baptiste Lully, excerpts from Armide; Henry Purcell, excerpts from Dido and Aeneas; John Dowland, Flow, my tears; Heinrich Schütz, Saul, was verfolgst du mich; George Frederick Handel, excerpts from Messiah;
Session 7 (Monday, October 21)

To the Early 18th Century (1700–1750)

Quiz #2.

Reading: S 13 (from p. 191), 14 (from p. 209), 15 WT 57, 59, 71–73
Listening: J. S. Bach, Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 543, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, BWV 1050, and Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62; Antonio Vivaldi, Concerto for 2 Violins in G minor, op. 3 no. 2; Arcangelo Corelli, Trio Sonata op. 3 no. 2; Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Suite in A minor from Pièces de clavecin, Book I

Session 8 (Monday, October 28)

Galant and Enlightenment (1750-1800)
Reading: S 16–18 WT 74, 83, 88, 90, 92

Listening: Joseph Haydn, String Quartet in E flat, op. 33 no. 2, “Presto” and excerpts from Symphony No. 92; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, excerpts from Don Giovanni, Symphony No. 40, and Piano Sonata in F major, K. 332; Christoph Gluck, excerpts from Orfeo ed Euridice

Session 9 (Monday, November 4)

Romanticism (1800–1850)
Reading: S 19-20 WT 93, 94, 98, 99, 103, 105, 108

Listening: Ludwig van Beethoven, excerpts from Piano Sonata in C minor, op. 13, Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, op. 55, and String Quartet No. 14 in c-sharp minor, op. 131; Franz Schubert, excerpts from Winterreise; Robert Schumann, excerpts from Dichterliebe; Fryderyk Chopin, Ballade No. 4 in f minor, Op. 52; Gioacchino Rossini, excerpts from Il barbiere di Siviglia; Carl Maria von Weber, Der Freischutz, Act II Finale, Wolf’s Glen scene

Session 10 (Wednesday, November 13)

Late Romanticism (1850–1900)

Quiz #3.

Reading: S 21 WT 110, 111, 113, 120
Listening: Franz Liszt, Piano Sonata in B minor, Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, Act I Prelude; Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Finale; Richard Strauss, Don Juan; Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, “Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht;” Giuseppe Verdi, excerpts from La Traviata; Gabriel Fauré, Nocturne No. 6 in Db major, op. 63

Session 11 (Monday, November 18)

Early Modernism (1900–1920)
Reading: S 22 WT 124, 125, 128, 129, 132

Listening: Claude Debussy, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faun; Igor Stravinsky, excerpts from The Rite of Spring; Arnold Schoenberg, excerpts from Pierrot lunaire; Maurice Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin; Scott Joplin, Maple Leaf Rag; Richard Strauss, excerpts from Salomé

Session 12 (Monday, November 25)

Interwar Modernism (1920–1950)
Reading: S 23 WT 131, 137, 141, 145, 146

Listening: Alban Berg, Act III scene iii from Wozzeck; Béla Bartók, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta; Darius Milhaud, La Création du monde; Henry Cowell, The Banshee; George Gershwin, “I Got Rhythm” and Duke Ellington, “Cotton Tail;” Webern, Concerto for Nine Instruments, op. 24

Session 13 (Monday, December 2)

Music After WWII (1950–Present)

Final blog post due Sunday, December 1 at 5pm. Quiz #4.

S 24 WT 168 (up to p. 519), 169 (up to p. 525), 172
Listening: Pierre Boulez, Structures I; Krzysztof Penderecki, Threnody: To the Victims of Hiroshima; John Cage, 4’33”; Terry Riley, In C; Steve Reich, excerpts from Piano Phase and Come Out; Laurie Anderson, O Superman; Karlheinz Stockhausen, Helicopter Quartet

Listening Blogs

The Listening Journal is intended to provide a regular opportunity for you to practice listening to and writing about music in an informal setting. You should focus on the pieces we're studying this semester, but you should also feel free to discuss other music you listen to or perform. Your ideas and observations can take whatever shape you choose, from a five-paragraph essay to a haiku to bullet points to a rebus. Don't feel pressured to produce brilliant, polished work: any idea or observation you have while listening is valid and worthy of exploration. Do feel pressured to experiment, to take chances, to write about things you hear that you can't quite explain. And above all, no matter how stuck you get, just keep trying. As with playing any instrument, a little practice every day goes a long way, and before you know it, you'll be a virtuoso listener.

Some guidelines

1) You should post at least one entry of at least 300 words once a week prior to 5pm the day before class meets. I'll have your blog on my blogroll and will read new posts as they come up, looking for things that might prove relevant to class discussion.

2) Your mandatory, weekly post should address one of the pieces we didn’t discuss in the previous class. You may choose to make use of online or brick-and-mortar library resources to learn more about the piece you focus on, but at the very least you should use our discussion of other assigned listening as a model for your own exploration and discussion of the piece at hand.

3) Try to comment on at least one of your classmates' posts once a week before section. Obviously you could comment on as many as you'd like - the more the merrier! The idea is to let your classmates know that you’re reading their blogs so that everyone feels like they have an audience. I’ll post a list of all class blogs on the section webpage.

4) Your blog is pass/fail up to 25% of your grade; you have to earn the last 5%. The best listening journals will make connections between course materials and extracurricular music-making. The best journals will demonstrate that you've made progress in listening closely and in incorporating the terminology and analytical techniques we'll practice using in class. And the best listening journals will engage critically – albeit generously – with the posts and comments written by your classmates. Satisfying these high standards will earn you some or all of the last five points within the blog category. 

What might you write about? You could…

  • Practice distinguishing between pieces and styles in preparation for quizzes.

  • Compare music with works in other media, like paintings, architecture, or literature. (Douglass Seaton frequently invokes these other art forms to place music of different eras in a broader artistic context, and his comparisons could provide helpful leads for your own, more extensive comparisons.)

  • Write about the music on your iPod, the music you’re currently performing, or something you heard at a concert.

  • Compare different recordings of the same piece, paying attention to how each performance communicates an aspect of its history or reception.

  • Explore how the major threads of the course (pleasure, power, appropriation, etc.) manifest in the music of a particular time or place, and through that exploration you could start preparing for your final paper.

  • Experiment with performing different kinds of analysis (melodic, harmonic, textural, spectral) or applying different hermeneutic lenses (politics, gender and sexuality, economics, class, race, post-colonialism).

Whatever you choose to write about, make sure you pay close attention to the musical text, and always relate it in some way to its historical, social, or artistic context.

Some suggestions:

If you're not familiar with blogging, Blogger is the easiest platform to start with, with Tumblr and Wordpress close behind. Feel free to personalize your blog, taking ownership in every way possible. If you’re not sure where to start, let me know, and I will organize a blogging workshop early in the semester.

Regarding identity: if you prefer to keep your identity hidden from your classmates and/or the world, go ahead and pick a pseudonym when you sign up for your blog. But make sure you let me know which blog is yours.

Some hopes:

I hope this project will encourage you to listen more closely and more often than you might have otherwise. I also hope that you'll take advantage of the technological opportunities offered by the blog format, and that you'll augment your writings with images, audio and video clips, links to external sites, and lots of other stuff you can't work with when you're writing in a physical journal.

I'm excited by the prospect that these listening journals might enrich our experience by giving us more perspectives and interpretations to discuss. I'm also looking forward to seeing how we interact as a listening community. When will we disagree completely? When will one person's listening habits influence another's? How much will we learn from each other that we would not have learned by limiting our time spent listening together in class?

As with every aspect of our class, let me know if you have any questions. Happy Listening, and Happy Blogging!
Guidelines for Research for Class Presentations

Your presentation will rely in part on limited additional research you will do on the relevant piece, its composer, and its context, including the general style or movement of which the piece is representative. This additional research will help acquaint you with library resources that might prove relevant for future projects (program notes, term papers, etc.). And the better you are at answering questions through responsible, scholarly research, the better-equipped you’ll be to continue learning about music after this class – and eventually, to teach it.

Presentation Prep: Find one journal article, one book, and one reputable reference article relating to the piece in some way. Each source must be by a different scholar, and each should be less than 30 years old. Two of these sources may be electronic, the other should be a print source (you should send me a scan of the first page of the print source so I know you consulted a non-electric object). In addition, find one recording of the piece (physical or digital) with liner notes of some kind. Drawing on these four sources, as part of your presentation you should explain to your classmates some aspect of the reception of the piece at hand: how have different scholars understood, appreciated, or advocated for this piece? When have they disagreed about it? How does the piece’s performance participate in this process of reception?

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