Exploring Classical Music Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Week 1: Music and Myth in the Ancient World Philosophy of Music: Pythagoras and the Pythagorean School; Music of the Spheres; Greek Modes and their relation to Greek Gods; Epidaurus, Music and the Musical Healing Temples of Asclepius. Dionysus, God of Drama, Dance, Wine, Madness and Ecstasy; The Bacchae and Greek Tragedy; Myths of Apollo, the God of Poetry, Harmony, Order, Medicine and the Sun
Week 2: Medieval and Renaissance Art and Music Benedictine chant, Hildegard of Bingen, music for pilgrimage Orlando Lassus- the original Carmina Burana- Allegri Miserere
Week 3: The Passions of the Baroque Era Couperin -Lully- Bach -Vivaldi– Handel - Scarlatti
Week 4: The Age of Enlightenment and Refinement Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven Sonata Allegro Form
Week 5: The Age of Emotional Extremes: The Romantics Chopin, the Schumanns, Brahms and Liszt
Week 6: Birth of the Modern and Contemporary Age Music of Debussy –Stravinsky- Schoenberg- Arvo Part
Kayleen's Top Ten Musical Picks
I am often asked what I think are the best pieces of music. Below are my desert island picks- music absolutely essential to live a complete life.
Allegri: Miserere (Tallis Scholars) A stunning piece of choral writing that showcases the differences between Medieval style monophonic chant and intricate Renaissance polyphony. This piece was written to be sung in the Sistine Chapel during Good Friday- it will break your heart
J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concertos (Trevor Pinnock and the English Consort) First, the rhythms are unbelievably infectious, the music joyful and exuberant. Secondly, when you need to put things in perspective, realize this: these pieces were Bach's job application to be a composer for the Duke of Brandenburg. He didn't get the position. J.S. Bach: Arias and Choruses from St. Matthew's Passion or St. John's Passion Great music gets better with age and repeated listening. I've been listening to these pieces for twenty five years now. I've gone from merely liking them to realizing that they are simply the most astonishing music ever written.
Morimur, J.S Bach (Christoph Poppen and the Hilliard Ensemble) This meditation on death is an incredible interweaving of superb performances of the Violin Partita in d minor with chorales from Cantatas A thought provoking and erudite summation of a musicologist's dissertation is included- worth the price of the CD all by itself. I have given more copies of this cd away than any other.
Mozart Piano Concertos (Murray Perahia or Vladimar Ashkenazy, piano) Though there are 27 to choose from, you really can't go wrong with anything from No.9 on. If I had to choose just one, I'd pick No. 23 in A Major. Mozart captures the extremities of emotional experience here: the outer sunny movements are intensely lyrical, toe-tapping and delightful, while the inner Adagio is spare, tragic and sublime. Beethoven, however, preferred the stormy and dramatic No.21 in d minor
Beethoven: Late String Quartets I will be studying these for the rest of my life- they encapsulate the spiritual journey from heroism to surrender
Rachmaninoff: Vespers (also known as the All Night Vigil) One of the most moving religious pieces of all time, written be a man who didn't consider himself religious at all
Chopin Nocturnes Intoxicating, poignant, romantic. Must be listened to by candlelight.
Morten Lauridsen: Lux Aeterna (Los Angeles Master Chorale) When you are in need of hope and inspiration, melt into this heart opening collection by America's most moving composer
Arvo Part: Tabula Rasa (Gidon Kremer and Keith Jarrett) Stark, intense and transcendent. Absolutely not to be used as background music for a dinner party. Put on the cd, turn off the lights and prepare for a mystical journey to the inner depths that may leave you shaken to your core
And to combine learning and fun... My mentor, Robert Greenberg, has created a series of Great Courses that will both inform and delight you- and possibly leave your sides hurting from laughing. Start with How to Listen to and Understand Great Music
Below is a link to an article I published which looks at the history of music through the tensions of the Apollonian and Dionysian: