Past Course Announcements

This page contains past announcements from the faculty on particular course.

Fall 2013

EN 493 Music and Poetry
T & Th, 9:30-11am, Location TBD

Course Description

An historical survey of the relations between the two arts from the Greeks to the present. Discussions of poetry in many languages; emphasis on English. Chant, song, madrigal, opera, and other forms. Ability to read music is required.

For the ancient Greeks, whose chanted poetry was orally composed, the word mousike described both music and poetry, but the introduction of the alphabet and its adoption as a musical notation began to separate the components of song. Major episodes in the later relations between poetry and music include the alteration of Latin poetry by the Hebrew melodies of the early Church, the fitting of words to originally wordless melismata in chant, the invention of polyphony as a musical version of allegory, the assigning of expressive values to constructive techniques in both arts during the Renaissance, the hostility toward music of some eighteenth-century poets, the ill-informed emulation of music by some Romantic poets, the embracing of a literary aesthetic by some Romantic composers, and the recovery in the twentieth century of the medieval mystery of number as a basis for both musical and poetic form.

This seminar will involve a sweeping survey of that complex history, but the particular interests of those taking the course will determine which parts of the history receive the most attention. Our group will include students majoring in language and literature and in music. Students concentrating in literature must be able to read music; students concentrating in music must have had some course involving poetry. Those with questions about the adequacy of their preparation should consult me. In keeping with the English Department’s designation of this course as one that satisfies the requirement for courses in the history and theory of criticism, we shall often consider the philosophical and aesthetic issues arising out of the troubled relations between speech and song.

MU 242 Music and Society
MWF, 10-11am, Fuller 123

Course Description

MU 242 examines the role of music as it was shaped and affected by political, social, and cultural events, and in turn, how music influenced and contributed to change throughout history. A significant constant in the development of music as influenced by society, the role of text will be a focal theme throughout the term. Based on crucial milestones, we will construct an on-going flow chart tracing evolution and roots of characteristics or societal inspirations as reflected in music. The course will examine key works, composers, and trends as examples illustrating the larger scope and content of the study, including the Grateful Dead, Mozart, Sondheim, Porgy and Bess, music in radio and the cinema, romanticism, Berg’sLulu, experimental music, and more.


MU 723/823 Baroque Seminar: Monteverdi Vespers of 1610
Tues., 2-5 pm, Fuller 281

Course Description

“Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610” have become an integral part of our musical life, with numerous recordings and performances. But as my scare quotes suggest, the “piece” we think we know and the collection of sacred music that Monteverdi published four hundred three years ago may not amount to quite the same thing. What the “Vespers” are and aren’t; how they were performed then and are presented now; what all this tells us about Monteverdi’s time and ours — we shall try to attack these and other questions from many angles, not least through an examination of the original musical sources and, circumstances allowing, through practical experimentation.

Spring 2013

CFA MU 341/351 Topics in World Music “Music in American Cultures”
T & Th, 9:30-11am CFA B36

Course Description

This course offers both an introductory look at the diverse musical cultures of the U.S., as well as an examination of how various world music traditions brought by people to the U.S. have been shaped by the unique space of the nation.  Through these musical practices, we will investigate the ways in which many of these styles are the product of long-running interracial and intercultural dialogue, struggles, and negotiation processes that continue to produce new hybrid forms. Because of the vast array of musical cultures present in the U.S., this course is necessarily selective and introductory. Rather than providing an exhaustive survey of every culture or music in the U.S., we will focus on several key voices and moments within this broader history, with emphasis on popular and “roots” genres.

Throughout the semester, this course will examine each musical practice at hand within a broader historical, political, and economic context. As necessary part of developing the ability to critically think through musical material, this course will introduce key readings on the issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. You will also be introduced to basic musical concepts and terminology, and acquire listening skills that will enable you to better encounter and understand music in this course and beyond. The overall goal is to develop our ability to hear and appreciate the multiple entanglements that make music so deeply immersed in competing interests and sensibilities.


CFA MU 718: Musicology/Ethnomusicology – Music and Mysticism in Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Iran
Th. 2-5:00 pm, FUL 281

Course Description

This course will investigate connections between music and mysticism utilizing theories of the sacred that inform sacred journeys, sacred text, sacred music, performance and ritual. We will apply these theories toward a deep consideration of qawwali-Sufi devotional music of India and Pakistan, and the Bhakti traditions in India, including kirtan singing and Saiva-Siddhanta philosophy. We will also explore the mantras and philosophy used by the Balinese puppeteer or dalang and the Saiva or Buddha priests in Bali, Indonesia. Finally, we will consider the mystical traditions of Iran, with a particular focus on Persian Sufi poetry (ghazal) and music practices such as zikr, the reciting or recollection of God’s name. We will contemplate the poetry of the great mystic poets Rumi and Hafiz, and end with Taoist thought in the Tao Te Ching. Our investigations will be informed by relevant theories of the sacred including Victor Turner’s symbolic anthropology, as well as current scholarship on music and emotion, music and self-transformation, and sacred geographies.


CFA MU 726/826: 20th-Century Music: Darmstadt
Course Description:

On the map of new music after World War II, the south German city of Darmstadt occupies a place notably out of proportion to its modest size. Every summer from 1946, the Ferienkurse für Internationale Musik – soon renamed International Ferienkurse für Neue Musik - became a nerve center where composers, performers, and theeorists engaged with new works and new ideas from throughout Europe and overseas, both east and west. Within a few years, Darmstadt had evolved from a place where German musicians in particular could catch up with the advanced trends prohibited under the Nazi regime to a focal point for an international avant-garde, and in particular the hot-bed of emerging serial composition, most familiar today in the works of Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Luigi Nono.

In retrospect, it seems clear that serialism—still the buzzword most closely associated with Darmstadt—in fact soon gave way to other approaches, although in one way or another it still underlay much of the music heard and taught at Darmstadt. In retrospect, it seems clear as well that Darmstadt, allegedly the center of the most autonomous, abstract music possible, in fact belonged inseparably to a cultural-political nexus deeply intertwined with the cold war.

In this seminar, I hope to look at some of the music, the thought, and the context of Darmstadt in its earlier days—roughly, from the start to the early 1960s, when in the wake of generational and stylistic change its centrality diminished (not that the Ferienkurse have vanished: they continue today—see We shall consider some of the chief works and some of the key figures: among others, beyond the three already mentioned, the Italian composer-conductor Bruno Maderna, the Belgians Karel Goeyvaerts and Henri Pousseur, and the Americans Stefan Wolpe, John Cage, Christian Wolf, Earle Brown, and David Tudor who brought very different perspectives onto the European scene.

For background, you might begin by consulting the following books, which will be put on open reserve:

Im Zenit der Moderne: Die Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt, 1946–1966. Geschichte und Dokumentation in vier Bänden, ed. Gianmario Borio and Hermann Danuser, Rom­bach Wissenschaft: Reihe Musicae 2 (Freiburg im Breisgau: Rombach, 1997)

Darmstadt-Dokumente, ed. Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehm, Musik-Konzepte, Son­der­band (Munich: Edition text + kritik, 1999)

Amy C. Beal, New Music, New Allies: American Experimental Music in West Germany from the Zero Hour to Reunification, California Studies in 20th-Century Music 4 (Berkley: University of California Press, 2006)

Mark Delaere, Rewriting Recent Music History: The Development of Early Serialism,1947–1957, Analysis in Context 3 (Leuven: Peeters, 2011)

Try, too, to start familiarizing yourselves—through listening and through reading, both of scores and of analytic and biographical studies—with the composers I have mentioned, above all with some of the “classic” works like Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître, Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge and Gruppen, or Nono’s Il canto sospeso. We’ll consider some of the specific relevant literature to these figures and compositions in due course.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me:

CFA MU 727/827: Music at Ferrara, 1505-1534
Course Description:

On the map of music in Renaissance Italy, the north-Italian duchy of Ferrara occupies a place notably out of proportion to its modest size. Through several generations, members of the ruling Este family pursued music and musicians with singular intensity, bringing a stellar cast of composers, singers, and instrumentalists to their court, and maintaining a widespread network of contacts to assure a steady supply of new masses, motets, and secular works by leading figures in Italy and beyond.

Thanks largely to Lewis Lockwood, we have a comprehensive view of music at Ferrara up to the death, in June 1505, of Ercole I d’Este—theErcole Dux Ferrarie of Josquin’s celebrated mass. But despite significant contributions from Lockwood himself, Camilla Cavicchi, and others, we know less of the story as it continued under Ercole’s successor, Alfonso I d’Este, and other members of the often contentious clan. Despite retrenchments in the face of military and economic hardship, musical activity at Ferrara hardly ground to a halt after Ercole’s death. Antoine Brumel served as maestro di cappella for a few years after 1506; in the following decade the arrival of Adrian Willaert brought a rising star to the court; the still under-appreciated composer Maistre Jhan provided a solid backbone to the ducal chapel from early in the same decade until the late 1530s; and the influx of works by outstanding composers elsewhere, most notably Jean Mouton, continued apace.

This seminar will consider various aspects of music at Ferrara from the end of Ercole’s reign to the death of Alfonso I in November 1534. My interest will focus particularly on two related matters: the music of the young Willaert, and the musical repertory—local and imported—of the Ferrarese court as revealed through manuscripts copied there. Musical life in Ferrara did not exist in a vacuum, however, but formed part of a larger social, dynastic, and political context fascinating in itself and, ultimately, essential to understanding the production of the music; I shall hope to give due attention to this context as well. As always, everyone should feel free to pursue her or his particular interests as work develops.

It gives me pleasure to report that Lewis Lockwood will join us on occasion.

I list here some of the principal literature that will provide background:

Camilla Cavicchi, Maistre Jhan alla corte degli Este (1512-1538) (Ph.D. diss., University of Bologna, 2006)

Alessandra Chiarelli, I codici di musica della Raccolta Estense: Ricostruzione dall’inventario settecentesco, Quaderni della Rivista italiana di musicologia 16; Programma di studi e ricerche sulla cultura e la vita civile del Settecento in Emilia-Romagna promosso dalla Regione: Settore Musica e teatro 3 (Florence: Olschki, 1987)

Eric Jas, “A Sixteenth-Century Ferrarese Partbook from a Private Collection,” Tijdschrift van de Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 52 (2002): 35–65

Lewis Lockwood, Music in Renaissance Ferrara 1400-1505: The Creation of a Musical Center in the Fifteenth Century, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)

idem, “Jean Mouton and Jean Michel: New Evidence on French Music and Musicians in Italy, 1505–1520,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 32 (1979): 191–246

idem, “Adrian Willaert and Cardinal Ippolito I d’Este: New Light on Willaert’s Early Career in Italy, 1515–21,” Early Music History 5 (1985): 85–112

idem, “A Virtuoso Singer at Ferrara and Rome: The Case of Bidon,” inPapal Music and Musicians in Late Medieval and Renaissance Rome, ed. Richard Sherr (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 224–39

Joshua Rifkin, “Ercole’s Second-Hand Coronation Mass,” in Music in Renaissance Cities and Courts: Studies in Honor of Lewis Lockwood, ed. Jessie Ann Owens and Anthony M. Cummings, Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music 18 (Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 1997), 381–89

idem, “Miracles, Motivicity, and Mannerism: Adrian Willaert’s Videns Dominus flentes sorores Lazari and Some Aspects of Motet Composition in the 1520s,” in Hearing the Motet: Essays on the Motet of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Dolores Pesce (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 243–64

idem, “Jean Michel, Maistre Jhan and a Chorus of Beasts: Old Light on Some Ferrarese Music Manuscripts,” Tijdschrift van de Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 52 (2002): 67–102

idem, “Jean Michel and ‘Lucas Wagenrieder’: Some New Findings,”Tijdschrift van de Konink­lijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 55 (2005): 113–52

If you have any questions, please e-mail me:

CFA MU 740: Topics in Music and Liturgy

Course Description:

This course will trace the historical development of music and liturgy in the English church from medieval to modern times. Topics covered will include Sarum Use, the Eton Choir Book, the Reformation, the Book of Common Prayer and its evolution, the second schism, the Oxford movement and contemporary revival movements. It will analyze and investigate music written for liturgical use (including mass, motet, anthem, canticle) and sacred music written for para–liturgical use (including passion and requiem). Specific attention will be given to institutions with notable musical legacies including the Chapels Royal, and King’s College, Cambridge. Composers covered will include those of the first Golden Age (Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons Weelkes), the second Golden Age (Elgar, Parry, Stanford, Wood), and special attention to those composers in the last fifty years who have made significant contributions to the genre (Howells, Britten, Walton, Tavener, Weir). The broad course emphasis will be on cultural and theological context, analysis and performance.


CFA MU 718: Music and Mysticism
Course Description

This course will investigate the connections between music and mysticism in qawwali- Sufi devotional music of India and Pakistan, and the Bhakti traditions in India, including kirtan singing and Saiva-Siddhanta philosophy. We will also read deeply on the mantras and philosophy used by the Balinese puppeteer or dalang and the Saiva or Buddha priests in Bali, Indonesia. Finally, we will consider the mystical traditions of Iran, with a particular focus on Persian Sufi poetry (ghazal) and music practices such as zikr, the reciting or recollection of God’s name. We will contemplate the poetry of the great mystic poets Rumi and Hafiz, and end with Taoist thought in the Tao Te Ching.


CFA MU 827: Special Topics: Recording Techniques (Peattie)
Course Description

This seminar explores the early history of sound reproduction from 1860 to 1925. Particular attention is devoted to the role of telephony, phonography, and wireless telegraphy in shaping late-nineteenth-century listening practices. We consider the extent to which these technologies might also be said to inform subsequent developments in the “technological reproducibility” of sound during the first two decades of the twentieth century. To this end readings and assignments focus on the evolving relationship between performance, recorded sound, and “liveness,” as well as on questions of mediation, fidelity, and preservation.


CFA MU 827: Special Topics: Medieval Polyphony (Yudkin)
Course Description

This course will undertake a study of plainchant as the foundation (both metaphorically and musically)  of early polyphonic composition, ranging from the earliest textbook examples in the ninth century to the fully-developed monuments of the Notre Dame School. 4 credits.


CFA MU 835: Current Trends in Scholarship

  • Special Topic: East and West Revisited
  • Instructor: Robert Labaree

Course Description:
The mutual shaping of identities through interactions among Christian and Muslim civilizations in Europe and the Mediterranean since the Renaissance. Recent scholarship re-examines the ceaseless conflict paradigm of east-west relations in history, religion, commerce, sexuality, the arts and media.


Fall 2012


MU 827 Special Topics in Musicology

  • Fall 2012
  • Special Topic: Theories of Musical Form
  • Instructor: Patrick Wood Uribe
  • Course meets Tuesday, 2-5 PM (Fuller 281)

Course Description:
An exploration of theoretical approaches to musical form from 1750 to the present. These theories not only offer unexpected analytical possibilities, but also reveal the aims and preoccupations of their creators and the eras in which they lived.

Spring 2012 Course Announcements

CFA MU327/337 Selected Topics: Vienna

  • Spring 2012
  • Instructor: Thomas Peattie

CFA MU341/351 Topics in World Music: Music and Mysticism

  • Spring 2012
  • Instructor: Brita Heimarck

CFA MU343/353 Popular Music and Culture: Popular Music and Transnational Asia>

  • Spring 2012
  • Instructor: Marié Abe

Course Description:
Course examines complex webs and flows of transnational musical exchanges of “Asian” music in the 20th century. Discusses musics from Japan, Korea, China, the U.S., Taiwan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Brazil, and beyond in relation to histories of violence, immigration, and technology.

In this course, we examine complex webs and flows of historical and contemporary transnational musical exchanges of Asian/Asian American music in the 20th century. For each selected musical practice, we will pay particular attention to the histories of violence (US and Japan colonialism and wars in Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Okinawa), im/migration (Filipinos, Okinawans, Japanese-Brazilians), and technological development that have produced the conditions in which the particular music was created. In addition, we will also examine how seemingly innocuous contemporary “pop” or “avant-garde” music illuminate complex cultural politics in the globalized era today. Thus, the scope of this course is inherently transnational: the musical selection will take us through Japan, Korea, China, the U.S., Taiwan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Peru, Brazil, and beyond. Resisting a monolithic imagination or understanding of “Asia,” this course will show how musical practices enable us to “hear” a dynamic understanding of Asia through hidden histories, memories, distant places, social differences, struggles, and innovations that go far beyond geographic national borders.

CFA MU344/354 Interdisciplinary Topics in Music History: Latin Modernism

  • Spring 2012
  • Instructor: Patrick Wood Uribe

Course Description:
This course focuses on Latin American classical music in the first half of the twentieth century. Topics will include the works of Manuel Ponce, Julián Carrillo, Silvestre Revueltas, Carlos Chávez, Alberto Ginastera, Heitor Villa-Lobos, as well as broader issues of Colonialism, Nationalism, and the relationship of the so-called New World to the Old. The course aims not only to get to know this rich and complex music, but also to locate it in cultural, social and intellectual contexts within and beyond Latin America. To that end, we will also study other Latin American creative endeavors: the work of writers such as Alejo Carpentier, Jorge Luis Borges, José Hernández and Octavio Paz, and of muralists Diego Rivera, David Álfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.

CFA MU567 A1 World Music Ensemble: African Drumming

  • Spring 2012
  • Instructor: Steven Cornelius

CFA MU567 C1 World Music Ensemble: Greek Music

  • Spring 2012
  • Instructor: Panayotis League

CFA MU718 Special Topics in Ethnomusicology: Music, Politics, and Identity

  • Spring 2012
  • Instructor: Brita Heimarck

CFA MU 740 / STH TA 830 – Passions & Requiems

  • Spring 2012
  • Mondays, 10:00AM to 1:00PM in CFA 216
  • Instructor: Andrew Shenton
  • 3 credits (CFA) or 4 credits (STH)

Course Description:

This course examines the legacy of sacred music written for liturgical and non-liturgical use, using longer texts. It will trace the origins, formulary, and development of the texts (including discussion of the authors). Four case studies from different periods of music history will form the basis of further enquiry. Cultural, social and historical context of the first performance will be discussed, along with an examination of the theology behind the text setting (including, for example the use of numerology and other types of musical symbolism). There will be comparison with other examples in the same genre, discussion of changes in text and approach, and national differences in style and technique. Historically informed performance practice, manuscript and source studies, editorial practice and reception history will all be used to provide greater understanding of the works.

Required Texts:
Scores of the four case studies (recommendations will be made for purchase of recordings too):

Oratorio: G. F. Handel Messiah, HWV 56
Passion: J. S. Bach Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244
Requiem: W. A. Mozart Requiem
Magnificat: Arvo Pärt Magnificat

Other works studied will include: Mendelssohn: Elijah, Elgar: Dream of Gerontius, Tippett: A Child of Our Time, Hurd: Jonah Man Jazz, Britten: Noye’s Fludde; cantatas by Bach and Couperin; Bach’s Johannes-Passion, BWV 245, the attributed Lukas-Passion BWV 246 and the missing Markus-Passion, BWV 247; passions by Schütz (Luke or Matthew), Penderecki (Luke), Pärt (John); Requiems by Victoria, Brahms, Fauré and Duruflé.

Scholarly Prose

  • New Course (Half Course for Spring 2012)
  • Tuesdays, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • To run: January 17 to March 6 (7 weeks)
  • Instructor: Joshua Rifkin
  • 2 credits

Course Description:

How do we write scholarship, and how do we understand our writing: as a neutral vehicle for findings and ideas; as a literary artifact in its own right; as a combination of the two, and if so in what proportions? What rhetorical registers do we deem appropriate, and in what contexts? What level of documentation do we consider necessary or suitable, and how should we best present it? And how, beyond all of these questions, do we choose, and master, the editorial style best suited to our purpose?

This course proposes to examine the options available to practitioners of historical musicology and ethnomusicology in terms of both local detail and overall strategies. To this end we shall take a critical look at samples in the literature and seek to sharpen our own writing through sample problems. Our attention will focus equally on conceptual and mechanical questions, seeking to advance the ability of all participants to produce publishable work of distinction.

CFA MU827 A1 Special Topics: Bartok

  • Instructor: Jeremy Yudkin

CFA MU827 B1 Special Topics: Late Beethoven

  • Instructor: Lewis Lockwood

Course Description:

This course will be a wide-ranging introduction to Beethoven’s last decade (ca. 1816-1827). The primary emphasis will be on his last string quartets, especially the Quartet in Bb Major, Op. 130 and its two finales– the Grosse Fuge, which he separated from the quartet as Op. 133, and the second, “little” finale that replaced it. The study of Op. 130 will be a special topic running through the semester, and will be the subject of continued commentary and discussion. Defining the late style, which has been the subject of much discussion in recent musicological literature, will be a primary effort in this course.

The main approach will be that of analysis in historical context, and the works will be studied in the light of Beethoven’s life and career during these years. Students interested in studying individual works against the background of their sketches and autograph manuscripts will be invited to do so, and I hope that new studies of the autographs and sketch sources for Op. 130 and other late quartets, by members of this seminar, will bring new insights. Projects focused on other late works will also be welcome.

While the main work of the course will focus on the late period, I will from time to time discuss some other current issues in Beethoven research as a way of broadening the subject and at the same time offering a view of current pathways to future Beethoven research.


Reserve books, scores, and recordings for this course are listed on a separate handout.
Required for purchase:
1) Beethoven’s String Quartets (complete scores) Dover Books.
2) Lewis Lockwood, Beethoven, The Music and the Life (Norton, 2003, pb 2005).

Term projects
Each student is expected to choose one work (or one or more movements of a cyclic work) as a primary topic for the semester, and get to know it in depth (analysis; study of its compositional genesis in sketches and/or autograph; the early and later reception of the work; important critical views of the work; recorded performances). This selection should be made by early February and a short written proposal for the project is due by February 8.

All students are expected to make oral presentations on their work, which will be scheduled for course meetings at the end of the semester. A full written term paper from everyone is due by May 2 (the last meeting). The final paper may be focused on the main topic, or may be an expansion of work done on the individual composition or movement chosen for study. Under exceptional conditions and by agreement, it may be on a different topic. A list of suggested topics will be provided, but students are invited to explore topics of interest in consultation with me.


Jan. 18 Aims of the course. Defining Beethoven’s “late” period; the major phases of his creative life and an overview of his major works, c. 1813-27. Basic sources for studying Beethoven’s life and works. Current views on “late style” (Adorno, Dahlhaus, Solomon, Lockwood, Spitzer). Biographical themes: isolation, deafness; the conversation books; nephew Karl; contemporary visitors; plans and dreams. Solomon’s idea of a “sea-change” in Beethoven’s world-view. Approaching the last period not as an isolated phase of Beethoven’s productivity but as a time of continued development along lines that trace back directly to Beethoven’s earlier life-work. The last quartets as a “summa” of his artistry. Examples from early and late Quartets, especially the Cavatina of Op. 130.
Jan. 25 Visit to the Isham Library (within the Harvard Music Library)An introduction to the published facsimiles of Beethoven manuscripts, and current digital images of autographs and sketchbooks on websites. Problems in the transcription, interpretation, and publication of Beethoven sources. Nottebohm and later German scholarship; American and British scholarship in the past half-century; main sketch publications; relations of sketches and autographs; score-sketches in the last period. What joins source studies and criticism, and what separates them. Where to find Beethoven sources, and the main recent literature about them. Discussion of course projects on individual works or movements, and an array of other suggested topics.
Feb. 1 Beethoven’s changing relation to earlier music: early, Haydn and Mozart; later, Bach and Handel. The Archduke Rudolph as his patron and pupil; the “Hammerklavier” Sonata (1819) and other works dedicated to Rudolph, who was a capable composer.Exx.: The “Hammerklavier” Sonata, Op. 106; Rudolph’s Forty Variations and his Diabelli variation.The status of the string quartet in the period c. 1770–1830; a brief look at Beethoven’s Op. 18.
Feb. 8 An overview of the middle-period string quartets: Op. 59 Nos. 1–3 (1806). Beethoven on Op. 59: “They are not for you, they are for a later age.” The single quartets Op. 74 (1809) and Op. 95 (1810).
Feb. 15 The late quartets as a unified project (1823-26). The Galitzin commission and Beethoven’s plan to write three quartets.
The String Quartet in Eb Major, Op. 127
Feb. 29 The String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132
March 7 The two finales of Op. 130: the “Grosse Fuge” and the second finale.
———- Recess, March 10-18 ———–
March 21 The String Quartet in C# Minor, Op. 131 (1)
March 29 The String Quartet in C# Minor, Op. 131 (2)
April 4 The String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135
April 11 Student presentations
April 18 University holiday: no meeting
April 25 Student presentations
May 2 Student presentations; final thoughts

Fall 2011 Course Announcements

MU823: Seminar in Baroque Music

Greetings to all!

I look forward to seeing you Monday and, in weeks to come, making music and thinking about music with you. I thought, as part of our preparation, that I might give you a bit of advance notice on some tools that you should find useful during the course of our work.

Field Guide, Bibliography
The most handy single item work I can think of is Daniel R. Melamed and Michael Marissen, An Introduction to Bach Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). This is surely a book that “belongs on every Bach-lover’s shelf”—indeed, more so than many a better-known item I could think of. It’s comprehensive, accurate, clear, insightful, and contains, on p. 40, one of the worst puns in the entire musicological literature. You can also get a lot from the subject entries of the Oxford Companion J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd and John Butt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)—another work well worth having on one’s shelves.

Everyone will also want to become familiar with Yo Tomita’s invaluable on-line Bach Bibliography. It seems to have missed nothing, and is constantly updated. Given the nature of the beast, subject searches inevitably have their limitations; still, it pretty much supersedes other print- format bibliographies, although those published every five years in Bach-Jahrbuch remain worth consulting, not least for their subject divisions. The same applies to the bibliographies of the major dictionary entries cited further on.

Catalogues and work lists Melamed and Marissen will help steer you, among other things, to catalogues and shorter lists of Bach’s works; nevertheless, I should include a word of my own on the subject. While everybody is presumably familiar with the abbreviation BWV (Bach- Werke-Verzeichnis), fewer may have actually looked at the volume that introduced these letters into the musical vocabulary: Wolfgang Schmieder, Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV), first published in 1950 (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel) and brought out in a revised edition forty years later (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1990). Sadly, Schmieder’s work—although unquestionably a heroic accomplishment—went out of date quickly, and even the second edition did not make good the deficiencies; cf. the review in Early Music 20 (1992): 336, or the preface to the “Kleine Ausgabe” prepared by Alfred Dürr and Yoshitake Kobayashi (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998). Indeed, this last publication—done by two of the key Bach scholars of their generations—represents the best stopgap we have at the moment.

A larger and more ambitious catalogue has been underway since the 1980s; unfortunately, only the volumes covering the vocal music have yet appeared: Hans-Joachim Schulze and Christoph Wolff, Bach Compendium: Analytisch-bibliographisches Repertorium der Werke Johann Sebastian Bachs (BC), 4 vols. to date (Frankfurt am Main, 1986–). Serious users might want to consult the extensive review by Robert L. Marshall in Bach-Jahrbuch 79 (1991): 207–14, and my review-essay “The Bach Compendium,” Early Music 17 (1989): 79–88.

Beyond these heavyweights, you can always usefully consult the worklists in the encyclopedia entries mentioned below under “Biographies, Documents.” For details on sources and related matters often going beyond what BWV and BC provide, you might familiarize yourself with the last great contribution of the now late lamented Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut in Göttingen, the on-line Göttinger Bach-Katalog.

Editions: Scores
Bach’s works have appeared in two complete editions as well as numerous individual publications. The first complete edition, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig under the auspices of the Bach-Gesellschaft, appeared in forty-six volumes (some of them divided into two parts) between the years 1851 and 1899. A monument for its time— among other things, the first edition of a composer’s works ever to reach its projected conclusion—it remains familiar today in numerous photographic reprints (for instance the volumes of concertos, cantatas, and keyboard music issued by Dover) and is—or has been—available fairly cheaply on DVD. To some degree, its texts remain useful, and cer- tainly its standard of engraving has never been surpassed. But some of the poorest vol- umes covered some of the most famous pieces—most notoriously, perhaps, the Mass in B minor, but also many of the best-known cantatas, such as BWV 21 or 80. For anything but casual use, one will want to turn elsewhere.

In the 1950s, a new edition got under way: Johann Sebastian Bach: Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1954–), usually known as the NBA—for Neue Bach- Ausgabe, or New Bach Edition. Now complete but for a mopping-up operation or two, the NBA ranks as a musicological and musical monument of its century no less than the Bach-Gesellschaft edition did of its, and it has maintained a generally very impressive standard; its versions of the St. Matthew Passion, the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Harp- sichord Concertos, and many other works belong among the best things that this par- ticular branch of scholarship has done. For the serious user, much of the fascination will lie in the separately issued critical reports, or Kritische Berichte—unpractically for many, in German only (although much of the language isn’t hard to fathom).
Of course, the NBA hasn’t always hit as high a level as it should, and some volumes are problematic; these include above all the B minor Mass, also the organ chorales, the violin works, the St. John Passion. Nevertheless, it is usually the first place to look; and the cantatas in particular maintain a very admirable standard. Recently, Bärenreiter has issued all of them in a miniature-score compendium, although lacking the critical re- ports and less economically than some would wish.

Editions: Parts
Performing materials for the cantatas are not uniformly good. Breitkopf & Härtel has parts to all, or virtually all, following the BG versions—sometimes, as indicated, still quite good, other times not so trustworthy. Older sets of Breitkopf parts, sometimes available in pirated versions (Kalmus, for instance), often had heavy editorial markings redolent of early twentieth-century performance practices; sadly, one sometimes doesn’t know what one will get until the order arrives.
Bärenreiter issued a fair number of cantatas, but by no means all; the earliest sets were, again, rather heavily marked, but later ones were clean. Since the basic text was the NBA, these are almost always solid editions.

During the 1980s and beyond, Hännsler-Verlag (since reincarnated as Carus) issued performing materials for all the cantatas. Unfortunately, most of these had more editorial intervention than one would like, and in general they are to be avoided (although individual items, such as those edited by Klaus Hofmann, were in fact excellent). More recently, Carus-Verlag has been turning out very good sets of materials and are aiming to do all the cantatas; but this is still underway and not yet close to completion.

Biographies, Documents
The first biography of Bach, by Johann Nicolaus Forkel, appeared in 1802 (Über Johann Sebastian Bachs Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke); one would no longer turn to it as a refer- ence, but it remains invaluable for transmitting information gathered from Bach’s two eldest sons and as a document reflecting the cultural and political world of its time. A translation appears in The New Bach Reader, on which see below.

After Forkel, the next monument is Philipp Spitta’s simply titled Johann Sebastian Bach, published in two volumes by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1873 and 1880, respectively, and still in print. An English translation, in three volumes, appeared in 1884–85 and remains available as a Dover reprint; but serious users will want to go back to the original, not least as the translation turns Spitta’s wonderful German prose into a paler Victorian English. That said, Spitta’s work has probably become something more for specialists than the general reader: while an astonishing accomplishment and a monument whose agenda we are still playing out well over a century later, it has fallen out of date in too many details and remains too much a creature of a time neither Bach’s nor ours.

The next great station on the biographical path, Albert Schweitzer’s J. S. Bach, le musicien-poète (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1905; expanded German translation Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1908; English translation London: A. & C. Black, 1911, and still avail- able as a Dover reprint), also belongs by now more to the history of Bach reception than in the first line of books one will want to go to for information. The book in fact represents less a biography than a study of the music aimed at exposing its inner meaning—in which it takes some very interesting and not totally off-the-wall ideas perhaps a bit further than we today would feel comfortable with.

We can skip over the next several decades. Today, the English-speaking reader will probably want to focus on a handful of principal items. First, the very generous entry “Bach, §III: (7) Johann Sebastian Bach,” by Walter Emery and Christoph Wolff, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, 2nd edition (London: Macmillan, 2001), 1:309–82; to-the-point, up-to-date, and generally reliable, this performs its tasks very well indeed. At the opposite end of the scale we have Christoph Wolff’s imposing Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000). This is something everyone serious about Bach will want to own: comprehensive, probing, and often ingenious, especially in exposing the motivations and tensions of a career more complex than it could look on the surface. But the book has its problems: it too often glosses over difficult and controversial matters, and on the whole seems more beholden to the nineteenth-century tradition of the heroic biography than some might find persuasive—for a useful perspective on this, see Robert L. Marshall’s article “Toward a Twenty-First-Century Bach Biography,” Musical Quarterly 84 (2000): 497–525, also the review by David Schulenberg in Notes 58 (2001–2): 59-63. Those interested in a stimulating dialectical alternative to Wolff will find much nourishment in Martin Geck’s equally comprehensive Johann Sebastian Bach: Life and Work, transl. John Hargraves (New York: HarcourtBooks, 2006), or its original German version, Bach: Leben und Werk (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2000).

For those seeking a middle course, Malcolm Boyd’s Bach represents an excellent choice, especially in its third edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001): a very sane, balanced book, almost always reliable, not too long, not too short (also discussed in the review by Schulenberg just cited). Finally, those who read German may also want to consult Werner Breig’s excellent entry in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2nd ed., ed. Ludwig Finscher (Kassel: Bärenreiter and Stuttgart: Metzler, 1994-), Personenteil, vol. 1, cols. 1397-1535, and Arno Forchert’s sometimes unconventional but very well founded Johann Sebastian Bach und seine Zeit (Laaber: Laaber, 2000).

Of course, sooner or later one will want to get past modern interpretations and go back to the original documents on which all these biographies rest. The basic source in English is The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents, ed. Hans T. David and Arthur Mendel, rev. and expanded by Christoph Wolff (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998); this is the latest version of a classic first published in 1945 and reissued in a significant revision in 1966. This collection misses nothing one will really want to have, adding material unknown to Mendel and David, and expanding the commentary to some degree. The original translations of Arthur Mendel more often than not do about as well as one can imagine with some very knotty texts (rather better, indeed, than the translations of the newer items sometimes do); nevertheless, rendering the German of the eighteenth century into modern English remains a tricky business, and both Mendel and the new edition do go astray on some key points in some key documents. Nor does everyone in the Bach community find the new commentaries and the revisions to previous material invariably felicitous. In other words, even the most seemingly objective compilation of supposed raw materials will have more than a little measure of interpretation built in. So use with caution; but use.

For those ready to bite the bullet and come to grips with the real real thing, there is Bach-Dokumente, ed. Werner Neumann and Hans-Joachim Schulze, three volumes of documents (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1963–72), plus a fourth of iconographic material (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1979). This is a truly spectacular achievement: staggeringly complete and accurate, both in its texts and in its commentaries. Even if you don’t understand a word, it’s worth getting to know. Indeed, you should never really look at something in The New Bach Reader without checking it against the text, and commentary, of the Dokumente.

Bach dated few of his works; the establishment of a reliable chronology has thus constituted a chief enterprise of Bach scholarship since Spitta’s day. Spitta’s own efforts in this direction, although remarkable, ultimately crumbled in the face of ground-breaking re- search conducted principally by the two dominant Bach scholars of the post-World War II era, the recently deceased Georg von Dadelsen, and Alfred Dürr, still happily with us.

Dadelsen’s major contribution, Beiträge zur Chronologie der Werke Johann Sebastian Bachs, Tübinger Bachstudien 4/5 (Trossingen: Hohner, 1958), will probably not concern us directly. But you will very likely have occasion to refer to Dürr’s great Zur Chronologie der Leipziger Vokalwerke Johann Sebastian Bachs, 2nd, rev. ed., Musikwissenschaftliche Ar- beiten 26 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1975). This first appeared, by the way, exactly fifty years ago—in the Bach-Jahrbuch for 1957. From today’s perspective, one almost cannot imagine what a seismic effect it had—one that reached far beyond the world of Bach studies alone.

Among more recent studies, the following deserve particular attention, especially in the context of our work: Klaus Hofmann, “Neue Überlegungen zu Bachs Weimarer Kantaten-Kalender,” Bach-Jahrbuch 79 (1993): 9–29; Yoshitake Kobayashi, “Quellenkundliche Überlegungen zur Chronologie der Weimarer Vokalwerke Bachs,” in Das Frühwerk Johann Sebastian Bachs: Kolloquium veranstaltet vom Institut für Musikwissenschaft der Universität Rostock, 11.–13. September 1990, ed. Karl Heller and Hans-Joachim Schulze (Cologne: Studio, 1995), 290–310; idem, “Zur Chronologie der Spätwerke Johann Sebastian Bachs: Kompositions- und Aufführungstätigkeit von 1736 bis 1750,” Bach-Jahrbuch 74 (1988): 7– 72; and Andreas Glöckner, “Neuerkenntnisse zu Johann Sebastian Bachs Aufführungs- kalender zwischen 1729 und 1735,” Bach-Jahrbuch 67 (1981): 43–75.

Cantatas: General information

Above all else, you will want to consult Alfred Dürr, The Cantatas of J. S. Bach with their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text, transl. Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford: Oxford Uni- versity Press, 2005); this very well updated translation of Dürr’s classic Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach, 2 vols. (Kassel: Bärenreiter; Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1971), which itself has appeared in more than one version (since 1975 including texts), in fact even supersedes the German editions.

Also, the individual entries (listed alphabetically by title, not BWV number) in the Oxford Companion J. S. Bach, especially those authored by David Schulenberg, sometimes have some very cogent things to say about the pieces. On the other hand, I don’t find the (German-language) commentaries in Bach-Handbuch, ed. Konrad Küster (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1999), required reading.

Cantatas: Matters of Performance
Whether for good or for ill, there exists no comprehensive and trustworthy guide to the performance of Bach’s cantatas. Dürr’s book includes some valuable introductory observations, but those tackling this music seriously will need more. Many fundamental performance issues, of course, do not affect cantatas alone—pitch and tempo, for instance, will have across-the-board significance. The first of these, happily, has received generally excellent treatment in Bruce Haynes’s magisterial A History of Performing Pitch: The Story of “A” (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2002), including an entire chapter devoted to Bach.

Tempo, on the other hand, belongs among the subjects awaiting intensive investigation. Some individual items, however, certainly deserve notice, even if many of their findings remain problematic. I might mention, first, two articles by Robert L. Marshall— “Tempo and Dynamic Indications in the Bach Sources: A Review of the Terminology,” in idem, The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sources, the Style, the Significance (New York: Schirmer Books, 1989), 255–70; and “Bach’s tempo ordinario: A Plaine and Easie Introduction to the System,” in Critica musica: Essays in Honor of Paul Brainard, ed. John Knowles, Musicology 18 (Amsterdam: Gordon & Breach, 1996), 249–78. I would further draw attention to various writings of Don O. Franklin, which you can most easily track down through Tomita’s bibliography; and also to the very stimulating book of Ido Abravaya, On Bach’s Rhythm and Tempo, Bochumer Arbeiten zur Musikwissenschaft 4 (Kassel: 2006). For a detailed study rich in implications, you might look at Robert M. Cammarota, “On the Performance of ‘Quia respexit . . . omnes generationes’ from J. S. Bach’s Magnificat,” Journal of Musicology 18 (2001): 458–89.

On the instruments used by Bach, a very comprehensive account has recently appeared: Ulrich Prinz, J. S. Bachs Instrumentarium: Originalquellen · Besetzung · Verwendung, Schriftenreihe der Internationalen Bachakademie Stuttgart 10 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2005). As ever, there will be lots of details that one can dispute; but this can nevertheless rank as a standard work, which one will certainly want to consult.

More specifically on bass instruments and their deployment, you will want to consult Laurence Dreyfus, Bach’s Continuo Group: Players and Practices in his Vocal Works, Studies in the History of Music 3 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987). This, even more than Prinz’s book, has its contentious points, some of which will very likely concern us directly; but again, one bypasses it at one’s peril.

For some overviews on scoring practices in Bach’s performances, not least concerning the size of his string section, you might find it useful to look at two articles of mine: “Some Questions of Performance in J. S. Bach’s Trauerode,” in Bach Studies 2, ed. Daniel R. Melamed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 119–53; and “The Violins in Bach’s St. John Passion,” in Critica Musica: Essays in Honor of Paul Brainard, ed. John Knowles, Musicology 18 (Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach, 1996), 307–32.

Questions of numbers inevitably bring us to the make-up of Bach’s vocal forces; here, the fundamental items remain Andrew Parrott, The Essential Bach Choir (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2000), and my Bach’s Choral Ideal, Dortmunder Bach-Forschungen 5 (Dortmund: Klangfarben-Musikverlag, 2002). Since then, a new source discovery has made it possible to tie up a not unimportant loose end; see my “Bach’s Chorus: Some New Parts, Some New Questions,” Early Music 31 (2003): 573–80.

Preliminary Announcement

Bach Lost, Found, and Lost: Christmas Oratorio, Part VI

Some of you have asked for some information on the principal literature that we’ll be referring to in this seminar; especially given the potential hurdles that some of it might present, I send you the following to help those who so desire to get a good jump on things.

As I already wrote, our central “text” will be the original manuscripts of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio—the composer’s autograph score and his original performing parts. Both score and parts are available online at (the site has both German and English interface; you’re looking for BWV 248); there is also a published facsimile of the score that you will no doubt be able find on the library shelves (I shall have it put on reserve by the time the semester begins). Please do not feel you have to become experts on the sources of the entire Oratorio—remember, we are basically concerned only with Part VI.

For reasons that will become apparent, moreover, we are more concerned with the parts than with the score. Please familiarize yourselves with them, with special attention to four in particular: one copy each of Violin I and Violin II (there are two copies of each part); one of the two continuo parts; and the figured organ part. These differ in some crucial ways from the rest of the set. Can you figure out how?

What secondary literature will concern us most? First, the edition of the Oratorio in the so-called Neue Bach-Ausgabe (Johann Sebastian Bach: Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke), Ser. II, Vol. 6, ed. by Alfred Dürr and Walter Blankenburg. This consists of a score (which is also available as a miniature score—a good item to purchase!) and a separate Kritischer Bericht, or Critical Report. The latter is of particular importance—and is perhaps the toughest nut you’ll have to crack. So start kicking around with it; consider in particular the description of the parts to Part VI (pp. 111–18, best read—obviously—in consultation with the online scans) and the further discussion on pp. 166 and 215–19.

The other essential item to get started with is an article by Andreas Glöckner, “Eine Michaeliskantate als Parodievorlage für den sechsten Teil des Bachschen Weihnachtsoratoriums?” Bach-Jahrbuch 86 (2000): 317–26.

I append to this also something I prepared for an earlier Bach course that some of you might find useful in setting out some broader background material. I’ve not gone back to make sure that everything in it is utterly up to date; but I don’t think too much will be obsolete—Bach scholarship moves fast, but the basics are pretty stable by now.

As always, you may feel free to contact me at any time.


13 April 2011

Since this seminar is already experiencing a high degree of interest, I think it good to spell out something of what I have in mind for it.

As the heading says, I hope to concentrate on Part VI of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). The Oratorio, a series of six cantatas performed over several weeks in the winter of 1734–35, draws most of its music from earlier compositions of Bach’s. But while Parts I–V follow a basically homogeneous pattern of borrowing—most of their movements derive from a small group of secular compositions for the composer’s ruling sovereigns—Part VI breaks this pattern in ways that still present many unanswered questions.

I’d like at least to chip away at these questions and see of we can get closer to some answers than previous scholarship has done. To this end, we shall, among other things, work intensively with the original manuscripts of the Christmas Oratorio, to which we shall have access in facsimile and online (

Certain things will be fairly essential to the project. If you don’t already know a lot of Bach’s vocal music—cantatas especially—you should lose no time getting to do so. You’ll also want to have a good familiarity with Bach’s biography. Beyond these fundamentals, we’ll dig into the relevant specialist literature as we begin work. But you should know that most of this literature is in German; a reading knowledge of the language will thus be presupposed.

If you wish to know more, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I look forward to seeing you.