Quote of The Week

“Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take it as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.”

Karl Popper


Music Workshop at Stony Brook

With David Bouchier
Co-host Fred Avril
Workshop Outline –Spring 2021
Wednesdays 12:00 – 1:15 on Zoom


Registration is required.

OLLI website

Our classical music workshop this semester begins on Zoom on January 20, and will run for sixteen weeks. If you believe that you are not or do not want to be registered, please contact the OLLI office as soon as possible.

The outline below is tentative. It may change depending on the progress we make through the topics, your own suggestions, the exigencies of weather, and life itself. Themes may take more than one session to cover, and music selections may vary. Any changes will be reported by e-mail, both by the OLLI office and by me, so please check your mail regularly. You can reach me at davidbouchier5@gmail.com

The first half of the workshop will follow the evolution of music from the earliest times to the golden age of classical music from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Musical forms such as the symphony and the concerto will be explained and explored. The second half of the semester will be a musical miscellany including sessions on the private and not-so-private lives of the great composers, the role of women in classical music, and the relationships between music and nature, history, art, mythology, literature and poetry.

PART ONE: A Thousand Years of Music

Session one: Introduction; Early music; ancient origins; sacred music; Gregorian Chant; the medieval and Renaissance evolution of secular and instrumental music.
Session two: The Enlightenment and the High Baroque: Bach, Vivaldi. Handel and Purcell.
Session three: The Viennese Classical Style: Haydn and Mozart
Session four: From Enlightenment to Romance: The Early Romantic Movement: Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Chopin etc.
Session five: The High Romantic Movement: Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and The Grand Orchestral Symphony.
Session six: Romantics III: France, Britain, Scandinavia, and Russia
Session seven: The Twentieth Century: Modernism, Serialism, and Neo-Romanticism
Session eight: Orchestras, instruments, and conductors

BREAK 3/15 to 3/19

PART TWO: A musical miscellany

Session one: The concerto and the rise of the instrumental virtuoso
Session two: Sounds Intimate: The Pleasures of Chamber Music
Session three: Music and Art
Session four: Music, Literature, and poetry
Session five: Women in Classical Music as composers, teachers, muses, performers
Session six: Love Lives of the Great Composers
Session seven: Nature’s music: birds and bees, lakes and landscapes
Session eight: The sound of the silver screen – movie music

Recommended books: The Story of Music: from Babylon to the Beatles, by Howard Goodall (Pegasus Books 2013). This is an excellent general history for the non-specialist, and is also a TV series available on You Tube with musical examples.

The Classical Music Encyclopedia by Stanley Sadie (2014) – a useful reference book. There are many others including the NPR Guide to Classical Music.


A review of early musical history

Introduction to the workshop

The natural origins of music: animals, birds, and the earliest evidence of music.

Early Church Music: the first European musical notation, dating from the 9th/10th centuries allows music from that era to be understood and reproduced in modern times.

Music selections

Plainchant (or Gregorian Chant) by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos: Kyrie (approximately 1,000 years old). An example of monophony.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179): O’ Virdissima Virga (Song to the Mother)

Medieval Music (approximately 1200 – 1450): Beginnings of polyphony and instrumental music.

Musical selection

Guillaume de Machaut (1300 – 1377): Dame qui toute ma joie vient. (An example of polyphony).


Renaissance Music (approximately 1450 – 1600): Polyphonic church music, madrigals, songs, development of instrumental music.

Music Selections

Josquin Desprez (c. 1450 – 1621): Petite Camusette, and De Tous Biens Playne

John Dowland (1563 – 1621): Awake Sweet Love, and Fall My Tears

Thomas Weelkes (1575 – 1623): As Vesta was from Latmos Hill Descending

Michael Praetorius (1571 – 1621): Dance from Terpsichore

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643): Untitled madrigal, and final scene from Orfeo.

SESSION THREE – February 3, 2021

Introduction to the Baroque Era (approximately 1600 – 1750): Opera and oratorio, the first orchestras, sonatas, concertos, suites, and symphonies.

Music Selections

Archangelo Corelli (1653 – 1713)

Violin Sonata

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

Brandenburg Concertos (selection)
Mass in b
Goldberg Variations (Aria)
Anna Magdalena Notebooks (selection)
The Well-Tempered Clavier (prelude and fugue in C)
Prelude in c (organ)
Cello Suite No. 5 (excerpt)

Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)

Autumn from The Four Seasons
Bassoon concerto in b

SESSION FOUR – February 10, 2021

The Baroque Era (continuation and conclusion)

Georg Friderich Handel (1695 – 1759)

The Messiah (final chorus)
Water Music (example of a “French overture”)
Sonata for Two Violins and basso continuo (andante)

Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695)

From Dido and Aeneas (“When I am laid in earth”)

Viennese Classical Style

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)

Music Selections

String Quartet op.45 # 1 (1772) first movement
Trio on D major (1794)
Symphony No. 92 “Oxford” (1790) selections from all movements
Trio in D
Symphony No. 94 “London”
Symphony No. 45 “Farewell” (1772) final movement
String Quartet op. 76 #4 “Sunrise” (1798) third movement, minuet
String Quartet op. 76 #50
The Creation (“The Heavens Declare the Glory of God”).

SESSION 5: February 17, 2021

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

Music selections

Serenade No. 13 in G Eine kleine Nachtmusik
Leopold Mozart: Toy Symphony
Piano concerto No. 23 in A K488 (first movement)
Piano Concerto No. 24 in c K491 (2nd movement Larghetto)
Variations in D on a minuet by Dupont (Alfred Brendel)
Symphony No. 35 in D “Haffner” excerpt
Symphony No. 41 in C “Jupiter” K551 (First movt. allegro vivace & final molto vivace)
The Abduction from the Seraglio (overture and opening)
The Marriage of Figaro (excerpt)
The Magic Flute: Papageno’s comic aria
Don Giovanni: final scene
Cosi van Tutti – Come scoglio…Like a rock (Cecilia Bartholi)
Clarinet concerto in A
Ave Verum Corpus

SESSION SIX – February 24, 2021

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

Music selections (details may change)

Haydn’s Symphony #88 and Beethoven’s 5th – openings compared
Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor – “Moonlight”
Bagatelle in A “Für Elise”
Symphony No. 3 in E flat “Eroica” (opening movement)
Symphony No. 5 in c (selection all movements)
Symphony No. 6 in F “Pastoral” (selections from movements 4 and 5)
Symphony No. 9 in d “Choral” (final movement)

SESSION SEVEN – March 3, 2021

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) continued

Music selections (details may change)

String Quartet Opus 18/6 in B flat (selections from movements 4 and 5)
String Quartet Opus 130 in B flat – late quartet – (final movement)
Violin Concerto in D (final movement)
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat “Emperor” (third movement)
Overture: The Creatures of Prometheus
Egmont Overture
Overture to “Fidelio” (Leonore overture #3)

More resources on Beethoven

Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces by Laura Tunbridge (2020)
Beethoven: the Universal Composer by Edmund Morris (2005) – a good brief introduction
Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph by Jan Swafford (2014)
In Search of Beethoven (documentary by Phil Grabsky – DVD in Suffolk Libraries)

SESSION EIGHT – March 10, 2021

The Romantic Composers of the nineteenth century

Music selections (details may change)

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique (selections from all movements)
Franz Schubert: Musical Moment #3
Franz Schubert: The Trout Quintet
Franz Schubert: Erlkőnig (The Elf King)
Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in b “The Unfinished”
Frédéric Chopin: Piano Concerto #2 (second movement)
Frédéric Chopin: Mazurka, op. 7 #1
Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne No. 5 in E-Sharp
Felix Mendelssohn: Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream
Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A “The Italian” (first/last movements)
Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in e
Felix Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture
Felix Mendelssohn: Spring Song
Franz Lizst: Apres une lecture du Dante
Franz Lizst: Transcendental Etude #1
Franz Lizst: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8
Robert Schumann: Adagio and Allegro for piano and cello (adagio only)
Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat
Gioachino Rossini: Overture to Cinderella
Richard Wagner: Lohengrin – prelude to Act III
Richard Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
Richard Wagner: excerpt from Gotterdamerung
Giuseppe Verdi: Libiamo from La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi: Bella figlia dell’ Amor from Rigoletto
Johannes Brahms: Violin concerto
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in e (first movement)
Johannes Brahms: Academic Festival Overture
Johannes Brahms: Clarinet Quintet (opening movement)
Johannes Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn (theme and first variation)