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Unit information: Cycles and Fragments: Lied and melodie in the Long Nineteenth Century in 2015/16

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Unit name Cycles and Fragments: Lied and melodie in the Long Nineteenth Century
Unit code MUSI30109
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Ellis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Description With a focus on German and French song cycles, this unit considers Romantic and post-Romantic song in terms of its contribution to the aesthetics of Romanticism, the song cycle’s instability as a genre, its relationship to its poetry, piano v. orchestral accompaniment, stylistic change across the century, performance contexts and performative gestures, social utility and appropriation into nationalist discourse. The emphasis is as much on the cultural work of song and song cycle as on the music/text nature of the compositions themselves. Selected works from Schubert to Fauré are placed in socio-cultural context (Biedermeier, Symbolist, Vienna, Paris), while modern scholarly perspectives will come from bibliography in literature and modern languages as well as from musicology.

This unit’s aims are: This unit’s aims are: 1) to survey the changing forms of a historiographically problematic repertory across a wide time-span of around a century; 2) to set that repertory in its various artistic and aesthetic contexts; 3) to allow students to engage with critical scholarship including from disciplines lying beyond musicology; 4) to develop students’ skills in critical listening; 5) to develop students’ skills in the oral and written presentation of their ideas.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should: 1) be familiar with the broad outlines of the generic and performance history of the nineteenth-century song cycle in Germany and France; 2) understand the tenets of the main aesthetic movements that acted as drivers for the composition of song in the nineteenth century; 3) be able to discuss the musical repertory in detail, showing understanding of its stylistic features and the traditions embedded within them; 4) write critically and perceptively about the repertory, in light of recent scholarly writing.

And additionally (specific to Level H) to: a) incorporate a consistently strong grasp of detail with respect to content b) argue effectively and at length (including an ability to cope with complexities and to describe and deploy these effectively) c) display to a high level skills in selecting, applying, interpreting and organising information, including evidence of a high level of bibliographical control d) describe, evaluate and/or challenge current scholarly thinking e) discriminate between different kinds of information, processes, interpretations f) take a critical stance towards scholarly processes involved in arriving at historical knowledge and/or relevant secondary literature g) engage with relevant theoretical, philosophical or social constructs for understanding relevant works or traditions h) demonstrate an understanding of concepts and an ability to conceptualise i) situate material within relevant contexts (invoking interdisciplinary contexts where appropriate) j) apply strategies laterally (perhaps leading to innovative results)

Teaching details

Weekly 2 hour seminars for the whole cohort

Assessment Details

All the assessment is summative:

1x3,000-word essay (50%); 1x 2-hour exam (50%).

Both the essay and the exam will demonstrate (1) and (2), and (a)-(j), with the essay in particular providing an opportunity for the students to demonstrate (3) and (4), and (b)-(f).

Reading and References

Bergeron, Katherine, Voice Lessons: French Mélodie in the Belle Epoque (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Cave, Terence, Mignon’s Afterlives: Crossing Cultures from Goethe to the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Kramer, Richard A., Distant Cycles: Schubert and the Conceiving of Song (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994)

Tunbridge, Laura, The Song Cycle (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Tunley, David, Salons, Singers, and Songs: a Background to Romantic French Song, 1830-1870 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2002)

Youens, Susan, Heinrich Heine and the Lied Cambridge University Press, 2007)