David E. Schneider (Section 01)
Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) is among the most important and productive musicians in the history of western classical music. Among his outstanding traits was an ability to absorb, synthesize, and re-imagine virtually all of the styles of music fashionable throughout Europe in the second half of the eighteenth century. This ability stemmed from a combination of natural proclivity and the unusual tutelage of his father Leopold (perhaps history’s most famous “stage father”) whose methods included taking his son on extended tours throughout Europe, which allowed him to meet the most important musicians of his day. This class will be devoted to Mozart’s life and music with an emphasis on several of his masterworks—chamber music, symphonies, piano concertos, and especially operas—written in the last decade of his life. The specific repertoire will be chosen to correspond with performances we will attend locally and in Boston and/or New York. A significant portion of class time will involve group listening with the aim of learning how to analyze a complex piece of music in detail. Readings will include biographies of Mozart by Jane Glover and Maynard Solomon, as well as letters (many of which display lively enthusiasm for the sexual and scatological) and other historical documents by Mozart and members of his family.
In addition to reading, assignments will include listening to recordings and live performances, making entries in a listening journal, short responses to historical readings, and four more formal papers. Class time will include lecture, listening, discussion, and, at the end of the term, final group presentations on scenes from an opera. There is no musical prerequisite for this class.
Fall semester. Professor Schneider.