Back to Top
Events Calendar
Loading Events...
View full calendar

Music Theory Electives

THY475-2 Schenkerian Analysis (Fall 2016)

This course will aim to develop an understanding of large-scale musical coherence through a study of the analytic method developed by the Viennese theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935). Many celebrated performers have advocated Schenker’s theories. The conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler was one of Schenker’s most ardent champions; not only did he consult Schenker about pieces he was to conduct, but he also helped finance several of the theorist’s publications. Many other prominent musicians, such as Bruno Walter, George Szell and Carl Flesch, were also interested in Schenker’s work. In Bruno Walter’s autobiography, the conductor wrote that “under the influence of the writings of the profound theorist and musical philosopher Heinrich Schenker, I became aware of what I had missed and began to grasp the theoretical problems; or rather they grasped me, they even fascinated me.” Through the analytic techniques learned in this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of how the principles of harmony and counterpoint operate in tandem, and determine the criteria for structural coherence in music of the common-practice period. In doing so, students will be introduced to the analytic system of graphic notation developed by Heinrich Schenker. They will not only gain an understanding of graphic analysis, but also learn how to relate musical analysis in helping to make interpretive decisions. There will be weekly homework assignments and a final exam based on analytic techniques learned from course.

THY 475-3 The Life and Works of J. S. Bach (Fall 2016)

No other composer has influenced the course of western music as much as J. S. Bach. This course offers an overview of his work: chamber music, cantatas, concerti, the great Passions, as well as an exploration of the times and conditions in which he worked and the role of a musician in the 18th century.

THY Analysis Seminar (Spring 2017)

In this course, students will undertake an in-depth analysis of a major work from the 20th or 21st century, with a preference for a major work being performed by the Curtis Orchestra in the current academic year. Students will receive a full score for the work, which they can mark and keep at the end of the semester. Students will learn about the history and the context of the work, and do a complete, page-by-page analysis. Many students will go on to perform the work with significantly greater understanding. (Specific repertoire to be announced.)

THY Mozart’s Chamber Music (Spring 2017)

Mozart's contribution to the genre of chamber music is unparalleled. Beginning with the early string quartets written in Salzburg, this course will focus upon the “10 Celebrated Quartets” from the composer’s years in Vienna. Influenced by the masterpieces of Haydn, Mozart’s string quartets remain the most frequently heard chamber works of the Classical era performed in concert halls today. In addition to these groundbreaking works, this course will look at Mozart's two duos for violin and viola, the Divertimento for string trio (K.563), and the six string quintets. This course will look at Mozart’s chamber music in terms of their formal design and tonal structure, and examine the many novel ways in which he treats the Classical sonata principle. Readings from biographies, as well as contemporary accounts of the composer, will add to our understanding of the different works in light of the composer’s career, as well as build a bibliography of Mozart resources. Finally, this course will discuss issues of performance styles as exemplified by the vast recorded legacy of interpreters, especially historical performances by the Budapest, Busch, Capet and Pro Arte String Quartets, as well as more modern performances by Guarneri, Juilliard and Tokyo String Quartets. Students will write a final paper (approximately 1500 words) on a single chamber work by Mozart.

THY Understanding Climax through Analysis and Performance (Spring 2017)

Building a climax is a fascinating challenge for both composers and performers. Using examples from the orchestral and chamber literature, with special emphasis on the students’ own repertoire, in this course we will explore the structural means by which composers approach climaxes in their music. We will decipher the harmonic, thematic, rhythmic, and textural elements that shape climaxes, and see how these elements contribute to the overall form and expressive content of the music. Learning the language of the composer under discussion is part of the process, including: tonal centers, modulations, chordal vocabulary, and voice leading elements. Students taking this class will have an enhanced understanding of the architectural aspects of musical form, and the hierarchy of various compositional elements. This will help them in developing their concept of performance as a single unity from beginning to end, and contribute to their artistic growth as informed interpreters.


Odd-numbered courses generally meet in the fall and even-numbered courses meet in the spring.

The designations "s.h." (semester hours) and "g.c." (graduate credits) indicate credit-hours given per term for undergraduate and graduate courses, respectively.

Yearlong, two-semester courses are designated by hyphenated course numbers. Students must successfully complete both semesters of required yearlong courses to satisfy the graduation requirement.

The symbol * indicates a course that is not offered every year.