Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Subject Description

This class is a survey of significant orchestral masterworks composed during three centuries. Since this is a participatory subject, each student will give oral presentations concerning composers and their symphonies and/or concertos. Prior score-reading experience is helpful.


There will be two quizzes during the term (worth 40% of the total grade, or 20% for each quiz). Each quiz will consist of (1) concepts concerning the development of our two genres and (2) excerpts drawn from our assigned pieces. Each quiz will be preceded by a review class, during which no new pieces will be introduced. All excerpts on the final quiz (FQ) will be from the pieces that we discuss after the mid-semester quiz (MSQ).


Each student will give four to six brief presentations (worth 30% of the total grade). The precise number you give will depend on the size of the class. Each presentation will concern aspects of a single movement, such as formal structure, character of the themes, the most climactic passage(s), and/or 2-3 recorded performances. The student must also prepare a handout that accompanies the presentation, summarizing such features.


Each student will write three papers (30% of total grade, or 10% for each one). Each will provide an analytical review of the performance of the symphony(s) and/or concerto(s) you heard at a concert you attended. Each will be 3-5 pages long.

Grading Criteria

Two quizzes (20% each) 40%
Presentations 30%
Three papers (10% each) 30%

Listening Assignments

Listening assignments are the focus of 21M.271. Our 54 works include 27 symphonies and 27 concertos by 40 composers. There is only one work by most, but 6 by Mozart, 5 by Beethoven and 2 each by Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Ten works are from the 18th century, 17 from the 19th, and 27 from the 20th. Before the mid-semester quiz (MSQ), there are 27 works on 11 assignments; 22 of them are complete. After the MSQ, there are 27 works on 9 assignments; 17 of them are complete. The time required per assignment is 64 minutes before the MSQ and 69 minutes after the MSQ.


18 inexpensive Dover miniature scores are to be purchased. All but the first and last of our 20 classes with listening assignments will begin with a piece from one of our 18 Dover scores. Four of these scores contain 2-6 works, and our assignments include 23 Dover works, placed in chronological order. Dover works will serve as the basis for most of your oral presentations. Score-reading is not a pre-requisite for 21M.271, and it will not be "tested" on quizzes. But discovering (via seeing as well as hearing) the form, orchestration, expressive character and other salient features in a work of music is part of your learning process in 21M271.


Our reading assignments are listed after the titles of individual pieces. These "program note" analyses will greatly facilitate your "discovery" of salient features of a work. Be sure to read them before you give a presentation, attend a concert or write a concert report.

Buy at Amazon [MSC] Steinberg, Michael. The Concerto. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780195103304.

Buy at Amazon [MSS] ———. The Symphony. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780195061772.

Buy at Amazon [PS] Stedman, Preston. The Symphony. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1992. ISBN: 9780138800550.

Buy at Amazon [LC] Cuyler, Louise. The Symphony. 2nd ed. Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780899900728.

Buy at Amazon [MR] Roeder, Michael. A History of the Concerto. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780931340611.

[DT] Tovey, Donald. Essays in Musical Analysis. Vols. I-IV and VI. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1935.