MUS1018H: Aesthetic Revolutions
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OVERVIEW This exploratory course in music philosophy and aesthetics predominantly concerns the 19th century—an era of significant revolutions in society, and thus in music and the arts—and early modernism. By exploring this era’s remarkable music, philosophy, and art, we will develop critical appreciation, reading, and reasoning skills. We will also learn how this era’s major interrelated disciplines, the so-called sister arts (music, theater, ballet, literature, poetry, visual art, etc.), built the foundations for 20th century artistic thought and practice, an area of study you may pursue further in Music and the World Wars (COWC/MUS 1013), a course offered by the music department. While addressing parallel developments among the sister arts, this course primarily concerns thinking about music in which tonal procedures, as practiced during much of the Common Practice Period in Western Europe (c. 1650-1850), undergo great transformations. The course begins with explorations of and reactions to the 19th century’s Romantic tradition through the writings of Milton Babbitt, Vladimir Jankélévitch, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Carl Dahlhaus. Next, we will watch two documentary films about the eminent and problematic composer Richard Wagner, a notorious anti-Semite, and read supplementary commentary by Hilan Warshaw and Michael P. Steinberg as we consider whether art and artist may be separated or whether they are inextricably linked. Subsequently, we will examine the writings of Michael Bell and David Roberts, both of whom consider music’s significance during nascent modernism through the era’s technological and scientific advances. Finally, we will read the controversial early writings of Susan McClary, who was among the pioneers of new musicology in the late 1980s. Course methodology incorporates studies of the musicological-societal forces that shape this era with relevant analyses drawn from writings on music and philosophy. Class discussions will draw on readings, our viewings of documentary films, and video/audio performances. Please note that some of the music we listen to in class will feature women singing. Those who find this problematic in terms of Halakha should let me know in advance. I make every effort to treat this issue with sensitivity, but it is critical that students understand that adherence to Halakha does not excuse them from fulfilling all coursework and assignment obligations.
Beliavsky, Daniel. (2020, Fall). MUS1018H: Aesthetic Revolutions, Yeshiva College.