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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Music

Undergraduate Course: Special History in Music: Mendelssohn and the making of 19th-century Musical Culture (MUSI10083)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryFelix Mendelssohn is a central figure in nineteenth-century musical life and one of the founders of the modern institution of art music. His career, music and reception form an invaluable prism through which many of the crucial debates in music from the last two hundred years may be critically examined. These include the relation between musical meaning and social function, programme and absolute music, organicism, the reciprocal notions of classicism and Romanticism, modernism and historicism, and the role political ideology, racism and musical ignorance may play in a composer's reception. And last but not least, Mendelssohn's music still forms a fascinating cornerstone of the classical repertoire, one which is richly rewarding of careful study.
Course description 1. Explore important pieces by Mendelssohn in musical detail.

2. Engage with a range of key themes in music historiography as they intersect with the life, music, and reception of this composer.

3. Critically examine the role played by factors such as race, religion, politics and later ideologies in musicological assessments of a composer's work - and the reasons for their persistence.

4. Rethink Mendelssohn's position within 19th-century music and culture.


1. Wunderkind: Mendelssohn's musical education and early works.

2. Modernist: Cyclic form, organicism, poetic overtures and programme music.

3. Historian: Revival of St Matthew Passion, building of the Western musical canon.

4. Traveller: Scotland and Italy, landscape painting, exotic, national, or universal?

5. Society: Ethics, Religion, concert life, audiences and gender.

6. Classicist: Instrumental form, music and the limits of language after Beethoven.

7. Late Style? On late style as a musical and biographical category; Op. 80; Death.

8. Reception: Politics, anti-Semitism and Nazism. Mendelssohn as case-study for problems in music historiography.

9. Student Presentations

10. Student Presentations
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Music 1D: Introduction to Compositional Techniques (MUSI08056) OR Music 2A: Music and Ideas from the Middle Ages to Viennese Classicism (MUSI08060) OR Music 2B: Music and Ideas from Romanticism to the Late Twentieth Century (MUSI08061)
Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least three Music courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss specific important compositions of Mendelssohn in appropriate detail.
  2. Explain the historical provenance of several key themes in music aesthetics.
  3. Evaluate the role of political and racial ideology in altering a composer's reception.
  4. Assess and revise narratives of modern music historiography.
Reading List
Botstein, Leon: 'The Aesthetics of Assimilation and Affirmation: Reconstructing the Career of Felix Mendelssohn', in Mendelssohn and his World, ed. R. Larry Todd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 5-42.

Brown, Clive: A Portrait of Mendelssohn (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2003).

Cooper, John Michael: Heathen Muse: The Walpurgis Night, Goethe, and Mendelssohn (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007).

Garratt, James: 'Mendelssohn's Babel:
Romanticism and the Poetics of Translation', Music & Letters, 80 (1999), 23-49.

Grey, Thomas: 'Tableaux vivants: Landscape, History Painting, and the Visual Imagination in Mendelssohn┐s Orchestral Music', 19th-Century Music, 21 (1997), 38-76.

Kramer, Lawrence: 'Felix culpa: Goethe and the image of Mendelssohn', in R. Larry Todd (ed.), Mendelssohn Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 64-79.

Sposato, Jeffrey S.: 'Creative Writing: The [Self-] Identification of Mendelssohn as Jew', The Musical Quarterly, 82 (1998), 190-209.

Taylor, Benedict: Mendelssohn, Time and Memory: The Romantic Conception of Cyclic Form (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Todd, R. Larry: Mendelssohn: A Life in Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

Vitercik, Gregory: 'Mendelssohn the Progressive', The Journal of Musicological Research, 8 (1989), 333-74.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Ten 2-hour seminars.
KeywordsMendelssohn, 19th-century music, musical canon, historicism, Classicism and Romanticism, absolute mu
Contacts
Course organiserDr Elaine Kelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 8248
Email: Elaine.Kelly@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMiss Annabelle Evans
Tel: (0131 6)50 2422
Email: Annabelle.Evans@ed.ac.uk
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