2022-2023 Catalog

MUSC 261 Western Music and Culture: 1580-1829

This course surveys the two-plus centuries that gave rise to European art music's most enduring legacies: opera, instrumental art music, and, especially, the major-minor tonal system, which, as the system that informs most music today, is arguably Europe's greatest-ever cultural export. The emergence of this tonal system enables instrumental music to sustain a listener's attention through dramatic forms and without the aid of words; comprehending how these forms behave is one of the central tasks of this course. In turn, the cultivation of instrumental genres will fuel the operatic accomplishments of Classical composers, notably Mozart. Our study of vocal and instrumental music proceeds chronologically and focuses on individual cities, starting with Florence at the end of the Renaissance and ending with Vienna, the music of Beethoven and Schubert, and the emergence of musical Romanticism. This course may be used by Music majors to fulfill the Second-Stage Writing Requirement. Not open to first-year students.


4 units


MUSC 101 or the equivalent

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus
  • Fine Arts
  • Pre-1800