Crash Course in Classical Music at Union Club, Soho

20/04/2015
18:30to20:30



Another outing for my popular Crash Course in Classical Music, this time at the Union Club in London’s Soho. It’s a fun and informative single-evening event in partnership with the Idler Academy. I’ll be tackling four key areas of classical music:– Baroque, Classical, Romantic and twentieth-century – in the course of the evening, and focussing on a major work from each. And I’ve had fun picking these!

JS Bach: Prelude & Fugue in C major (Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1)

Mozart: B flat String Quartet K458, “the Hunt”

Mahler: Symphony no 1

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps/Rite of Spring

I’ll analyse the music, illustrate some important moments, provide a glossary of key terms, and put each piece in context. All part of my Classic Discovery series.

Classic Discovery Introduction to Classical Music: a six-week course at the Idler Academy

04/03/2014
18:45to20:15
11/03/2014
18:45to20:15
18/03/2014
18:45to20:15
25/03/2014
18:45to20:15
01/04/2014
18:45to20:15
08/04/2014
18:45to20:15
17/02/2015
18:30to20:00
24/02/2015
18:30to20:00
03/03/2015
18:30to20:00
10/03/2015
18:30to20:00
17/03/2015
18:30to20:00
24/03/2015
18:30to20:00



Following sellout session in 2013 and 2014, the Introduction to Classical Music returns to the excellent Idler Academy in London’s Notting Hill. Over six evenings I’ll be covering the whole gamut of Classical music – from Medieval and Renaissance periods through Baroque, Classical, Romantic and twentieth-century right up to what’s happening in classical music today.  If you’re intelligent, open-minded, and interested in finding out more about Classical music, this course is for you!

For a full breakdown of what’s happening when, and for booking information, follow this link.  The Idler Academy is at 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5QH.

talking about Classic Discovery at the Idler

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

Intro to Classical Music course at the Idler – where, when and why

 

Setting out my stall for the Classical Music Introduction course at the Idler – it takes place at the Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5QH, over eight Tuesday evenings from 13th March to 8th May 2012 (excluding 10th March).  Lectures begin at 7pm and end at 8:30pm. You can book for the whole course or for individual sessions. Click here for more details. And here’s my opening exordium:

Welcome to this course which will fill a gap in the understanding of classical music.  The initial reason I put it together is that there are many people out there – including many of my friends  –  who are interested in knowing more about classical music but don’t know where to start;  it being such a vast subject with thousands of composers, works, and hundreds of technical terms used to describe these pieces that no-one ever stops to explain. Allegretto, anyone? This course is meant for them, people who  feel comfortable discussing the latest Booker prize-winning novel, analysing  a new film release,  taking a view on a recent development in contemporary architecture,  and indeed talking about the merits of a new album, but for whom classical music remains a frustratingly closed book.

This is also a course for those in the know about classical music – people who  have become familiar with classical music for the best possible reasons;  they have sung in choirs, played an instrument, or fallen in love with a work on CD, and would like to find out more.  People in this situation encounter a different problem. Much of the reference material concerning classical music in our day and age deals in great detail with subjects, in the belief that adding as much material as possible is an aid to understanding.  I believe it is not. To give just one example: wanting to double-check my facts about modes – more of which later – I turned to the latest edition of the leading classical music reference tome. It has 85 pages of entries on that one subject, but it still didn’t answer my  question in a clear, easily-accessible way. Much of contemporary writing is like this; it caters for the scholar rather than for the practical musician or intelligent music lover who is interested in discovering more and entitled to do so. It is that kind of information that this course seeks to present in a clear way, allowing a firm grasp of the fundamentals of classical music; encouraging connections to be made from one era to another, and setting listeners up to go off and find out more in-depth knowledge about the aspects of the course which have specifically interested them.

Classical music is about passion – it’s passion that drives us to find out more about music after hearing one of the greatest works ever written, or after hearing or taking part in a performance, concert or gig which captured a glimpse, however fleeting, of something sublime.  But classical music is also about ideas – ideas concerning music itself, or the ideas in other art forms it interacts with or ideas current in the context of the era that produced it. The way that themes are written down,  developed,  combined with other ideas, extended and worked into a large-scale musical edifice – as in a symphony by Brahms, for example – has clear parallels with architecture, for example. During the course of the last thousand years music has played its part in politics too, however reluctantly;  it has been pressed into service by totalitarian regimes, and proposed as a force of good by more benign ones. Some of the greatest composers – such as Johann Sebastian Bach – have viewed music as a craft, others – such as Mahler – as a vehicle for some of their most personal struggles, failures and victories. It has reflected some of the most potent ideas in literature and art by sharing and developing ideas from those other mediums.  And last but not least, music has been at the heart of religious worship since time immemorial, as well  as well as acting as a reluctant bit-part player in some of its most divisive struggles. What unites these different approaches is the interplay between passion and ideas, the heart and the head. Great classical music engages both.

 

 

 

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

Introduction to Classical Music – an eight-week course

Early_c20th_shostakovitch

Aimed at intelligent adults who are looking for a way in to the greatness of classical music, my eight-week course gets under way at the Idler Academy on Tuesday 13th March. It covers a thousand years of classical music, taking us from the Medieval and Renaissance periods through Baroque, Classical, Romantic and twentieth-century right up to the present day.

Here’s what one kind audience member wrote after the taster evening in January: “I thoroughly enjoyed the talk in the intimate setting of Idler. Had you booked say Wigmore Hall I wouldn’t have come!” Mrs E.P

Quite honestly, many of my friends and acquaintances avoid classical music because they don’t know much about it and feel excluded from what’s going on.  So this course sets out to change all that. We’ll be looking at what  role music played in each era, and how composers went about the process of shaping their works.  I’ll bring my trusty iPod and docking station along to play recorded examples by  way of illustration. Find out more about what’s in each lecture here.

This course will give you a clear understanding of the essential elements of music in each era, and will enable you to listen to classical music with fresh ears and greater understanding. I’ll provide a glossary of key terms, along with a suggested list of recordings to explore and events to attend.

The Introduction to Classical Music series takes place at the Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5QH. It runs on Tuesday evenings from 13th March to 8th May 2012 (excluding 10th March).  Lectures begin at 7pm and end at 8:30pm. You can book for the whole course or for individual session. The price is £192 for eight weeks (20% off) or £30 per lesson; it includes wine and nibbles. To book, ring the Idler Academy on 0207 221 5908 or reserve places online here.

 

 

 

 

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

Classic Discovery – Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy. 8: Contemporary Classical

30/10/2012
18:45to20:15



The Introduction to Classical Music course continues at the Idler Academy, as part of my Classic Discovery programme. Rounding off this course, we explore contemporary classical, taking in music by the great experimentalists John Cage and Cornelius Cardew, the work of genre-crossing performance artists such as Laurie Anderson and Heiner Goebbels, and the spirituality of composers such as John Tavener and Arvo Pärt, who have drawn inspiration from the choral music of the pre-Renaissance era – ending this course by taking us right back to where we began. For booking information, and full course details, click here.

Classic Discovery – Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy. 7: Late C20th

23/10/2012
18:45to20:15



The Introduction to Classical Music course continues at the Idler Academy, as part of my Classic Discovery programme.  This week’s session takes us up to the late twentieth century –  hold on to your hats as the Idler Academy takes on the Darmstadt School, headed up by Stockhausen. Building on the twelve-tone adventures of Arnold Schoenberg, electronic music comes into focus this week, as do the minimalist scores of Reich, Adams and others, and the maths-inspired work of Nancarrow and Xenakis. And we consider the achievement of the great Benjamin Britten, whose 1945 opera Peter Grimes forms this era’s jumping-off point. For booking information, and full course details, click here.

Classic Discovery – Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy. 6: Early C20th

16/10/2012
18:45to20:15



The Introduction to Classical Music course continues at the Idler Academy, as part of my Classic Discovery programme.  This week’s session looks at the early twentieth century. This session examines how four composers respond to both the opportunities and challenges of the times: Stravinsky, the premiere of whose Le Sacre du Printemps started a riot in 1913; Bartok’s reworking of Middle-European folk song; Shostakovitch’s perilous relationship with the Soviet authorities; and finally Copland who single-handedly creates the sound of New-Deal America. For booking information, and full course details, click here.

Classic Discovery – Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy. 5: Romantic

09/10/2012
18:45to20:15



The Introduction to Classical Music course continues at the Idler Academy, as part of my Classic Discovery programme.  This week’s session looks at Romanticm.  This is the week in which the expressive floodgates burst open, and we brace ourselves for the iconoclasm of Beethoven, the bare-all symphonic autobiographies of Berlioz and Mahler, and the massive music dramas of Wagner – not just composers, but true artists in the Romantic sense, for whom music was meant to embrace everything about the human condition. For booking information, and full course details, click here.

Classic Discovery – Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy. 4: Classical

02/10/2012
18:45to20:15



The Introduction to Classical Music course continues at the Idler Academy, as part of my Classic Discovery programme.  This week’s session looks at the Classical era itself, with its emphasis on the four key Enlightenment values of order, balance, clarity and beauty. It reaches its high point in the music of two Viennese masters: Haydn, the father of the string quartet, and Mozart, whose music manages to be both graceful and profound. For booking information, and full course details, click here.