Beethoven

  • Module Tutor: Dr Nicky Losseff
  • Level: C/4 (1st year students), I/5 (2nd year students), H/6 (3rd year students)

Aims and content

Aim: To understand Beethoven’s music through hermeneutics, style analysis, and historiography.

Content: Examination of: individual works, through close reading and analysis; the classical style; compositional approach; the social and cultural contexts of his music; the current scope of Beethoven research. Issues of personal psychology and ‘genius’ are also approached. Stylistic elements are taught through stylistic composition (and this forms part of the project mark). You will also spend time performing chamber music by Beethoven or his contemporaries. 

The project is taught through lectures, small study groups, discussions and practical workshops. The learning style is participatory rather than passive.  Students will be expected to engage with analysis, historical work, composition and performance.

You can also view more details at the Beethoven Project microsite.

Assessment

There are 4 pieces of coursework for this project, each of which counts for 10% of the total mark. The first three are submitted on Tuesday morning at 9.10, weeks 3, 4, 5; the last is a presentation and is assessed on the last day of the project.

For the remaining 60% of the project submission, you can choose from:

  • Option 1: Essay (3,000 words)
  • Option 2: Recital (20 minutes)
  • Option 3: A substantial pastiche composition (e.g. the first movement of a sonata)

Reading and listening

Pre-project listening: any (or all!) of Beethoven's works; in particular:

  • Symphony No. 3, 'Eroica'
  • Sonata for cello and piano, op. 69
  • String Quartet, op. 130
  • Grosse Fuge for string quartet
  • Piano Sonata op. 2, no. 3
  • Piano Sonata op. 10, no. 3
  • Piano Sonata op. 27
  • An die ferne Geliebte

Pre-project reading:

  • Cooper, Barry, ed. The Beethoven Compendium. London: Thames and Hudson, 1991.
  • Burnham, Scott and Michael P. Steinberg, ed. Beethoven and his World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.  
  • Ratner, Leonard. Classic Music: Expression, Form, and Style. New York: Schirmer, 1980.
  • Solomon, Maynard. Beethoven. New York: Schirmer, 1998.

A full reading list will be given out during the project.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the taught part of the module, all students should have:

  • acquired a general knowledge of Beethoven’s life and works;
  • a basic knowledge of some aspects of the late classical style;
  • a general understanding of social issues that affected Beethoven’s creativity;
  • more detailed knowledge of individual works;
  • gained deeper insight into selected topics (see Content);
  • composed music in the style of Beethoven, with guidance;
  • some knowledge of recent issues in musicology particular to Beethoven.

Second years: On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes B1-B10

Third years: On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes C1-C10