MUS 402(S) Senior Seminar: Politics in European Art Music

In this course we will explore the role of European art music in a series of political contexts. First, we will consider examples of medieval and Renaissance music that helped to formulate and support specific political positions. Next, we will examine how composers addressed questions of social class in the late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; here, we will pay close attention to the reception history of works. Composers whose works we will study in this unit include Mozart and Beethoven. Finally, we will study works that were inspired, in varying degrees, by nationalistic sentiments: Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, and Ives's Concord Sonata. In addition to reviewing the reception of these pieces, we will also read the composers' own writings on the political nature of music. Evaluation will be based on class participation, occasional brief writing assignments and presentations based on the weekly readings, and a final project.