Russian classical music, like American classical music, appeared less than two centuries ago. This distinctive musical tradition has captivated audiences with its haunting harmonies and dissonances, lush thematic material, evocative narratives based on ancient Russian lore, and raw emotive power. The Romantic era epitomizes the height of Russian creativity within the realm of classical music, particularly through piano music, symphonies, and opera.
In this 10-week course, available both in Falmouth and online via Zoom, students will become familiar with the basic timeline of Russian music, including government reforms and restrictions, major trends and musical characteristics, as well as the works of influential composers such as The Mighty Five (Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Cui), Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Stravinsky. No previous musical experience is necessary.
What is it that makes Russian music sound so distinctive? Much of Russian music is based on folk tales and folk tunes, with an idealization of peasant life and culture. Much of the melodic writing has a distinct Russian character, attributable to modal scales, quotation of or paraphrasing of folk tunes, and a folk-like idiom. The vast Russian landscape perhaps inspired composers to conceive of music on a much larger and grander scale, with an emphasis on public performances, rather than the confined salon music of Western Europe. Composers such as Mikhail Glinka brought Russian music to equal footing with Western music with his operas, ideal vehicles for magical plots, supernatural characters, and imaginative uses of chromaticism and dissonance. He established a Russian tradition that lasted through Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky.
In this course, we will explore landmark Russian works, including Tchaikovsky’s “Fate” Symphony and select ballets, Rachmaninov’s epic and emotive Second Piano Concerto, Mussorgsky’s crowd pleasing “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s enchanting symphonic suite, Scheherazade.
Online via Zoom | 10:00-11:30 AM
April 1 – June 3 | Thursdays