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Developing Themes - Music in the 'Long Nineteenth Century' - MUS00119C

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Richard Powell
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module summary

This module will introduce students to the idea of the ‘long nineteenth century’, taking a detailed look at the music, the composers, and the cultures that it encompasses through the lens of contemporary critical concepts. The period will be explored through a series of case studies - specific works (predominantly instrumental) that illustrate some of the wider musical and cultural changes of the time.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

This project will introduce students to the idea of the ‘long nineteenth century’, taking a detailed look at the music, the composers, and the cultures that it encompasses. This period will be navigated primarily through a series of case studies: specific works (predominantly instrumental) that might be considered to signify some of the wider musical and cultural changes of the time. Students will be encouraged to utilise scores and library resources to examine pieces and their contexts. They will also be encouraged to explore the music of the nineteenth century through the lens of modern ideas and critical concepts: issues of gender, accessibility, identity, metaphor, nationalism and interdisciplinarity will feature in discussions. The course will feature music by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Hensel, Brahms, Farrenc, Chaminade, Wagner, Beach, Debussy, Strauss, Schoenberg, Webern, and Ives.


Module learning outcomes

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

  • be familiar with a variety of musical styles and approaches developed during the course of the ‘long nineteenth century’.

  • be able to contextualise these musical developments within the wider cultural changes of the time.

  • be able to apply a variety of listening and score-based analytical techniques to pieces of music in order to examine the way in which they are constructed.

  • be able to explore nineteenth-century music and culture using modern critical ideas and techniques.


On completion of their independent work for this module, students should:

  • be able to analyse a specific musical work, present it within its cultural context, and explore it utilising a modern critical concept.

  • have a more in-depth knowledge of their chosen subject area.

  • demonstrate learning outcomes A1-A7 & A9.

Module content

The following are pieces that will feature on the course and will also provide useful background listening.

Ludwig van Beethoven:

  • Symphony No. 3 in E-flat ‘Eroica’, op. 55

  • String Quartet in C-sharp minor, op. 131

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, op. 14

Johannes Brahms:

  • Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E-minor, op 98

Claude Debussy:

  • Pelleas et Melisande

  • Préludes Books 1 & 2

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Das Jahr

Arnold Schoenberg:

  • Verklärte Nacht, op. 4

  • Erwartung, op. 17

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata in B-flat, D. 960

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

Anton Webern: Six Bagatelles for String Quartet


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word essay
N/A 90
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
20 minute presentation
N/A 10

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
2500 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Report form with marks to student no later than 30 working days from submission of assessment..

Indicative reading

Beard, David, and Kenneth Gloag. Musicology: The Key Concepts. Oxford: Routledge, 2005.

Beer, Anna. Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music. London: Oneworld Publications, 2016.

Cook, Nicholas. Beyond the Score: Music as Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Cook, Nicholas. Music: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Grimley, Daniel M, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Sibelius. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Jensen, Eric Frederick. Debussy (Master Musicians series). New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Kerman, Joseph. The Beethoven Quartets. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Macdonald, Malcolm. Brahms (Master Musicians series). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Morris, Edmund. Beethoven: The Universal Composer (Eminent Lives). New York: Harper Collins, 2005.

Rosen, Charles. The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. London: Faber and Faber, 1997.

Ross, Alex. The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

Tanner, Michael. The Faber Pocket Guide to Wagner. London: Faber & Faber, 2010.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

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