Short Talks by Susan Deas
One-off lectures: 1 to 3 hours
These are some examples of stand-alone lectures Susan has given in the past. Talks can be customised to special occasions, and can make great fundraisers. Many other topics are available by request.
How to Read Music (sort of)
Of course, you can’t learn to read music in a few hours! But it is possible to explore how music notation works, and to discover how notes, rhythms and musical expression are written on the page. This session provides a beginner’s guide to the basic principles of western music notation and score reading. No prior musical knowledge is necessary. More information
Music Theory Taster
Have you ever wondered if you could understand more about how music works? This lecture allows you to dip your toe into the water of music theory, and discover the craft behind the magic of music. We will explore the basics of music's inner workings, and discuss where to go next if you would like to learn more. No prior musical knowledge is required. More information
How Chords Work
This workshop will explore the theory and function of chords in music: how chords work, how they are derived from scales, and what various chord symbols mean. We explore the theory behind chords, what notes should be included, and how they function in chord progressions. For guitarists, pianists, and anyone who is interested in the theory of chords. More information
A Morning in the Baroque Period
The Baroque period has given us some of the most dramatic and beautiful compositions of music history. In this lecture we explore the rich complexity of Baroque music, providing insight into the works of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi and their contemporaries, in their social and historical context. Learn what makes Baroque music sound Baroque, and what the great composers were striving to achieve.
A Morning in the Classical Period
Eighteenth century composers believed that music should be appreciated by all, regardless of class or education. Little wonder then that the music of this period, composed by such greats as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, is so popular. This lecture explores the music of the classical period, and what its composers were trying to achieve.
A Morning in the Romantic Period
Composers in nineteenth century Europe wrote is some of the most beautiful and dramatic of all classical music. Examining the music of the Romantic period in its historical and social context, we look at the works of composers such as Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Tchaikovsky.
A Morning in the Impressionist Period
Composers of the Impressionist period, such as Sibelius, Elgar, Mahler, Debussy and Ravel gave the world exotic and rich new sounds, in the last moments before many composers abandoned ‘normal’ music and went atonal. This lecture examines the music of this period in its historical and social context.
The Concerto Grosso
The Concerto Grosso was loved by Baroque composers such as Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. There are examples in Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and many of Handel’s concertos. Explore how the genre works, contrasting a small group of soloists with the orchestra to create a wonderful variety of textures and musical ideas. We will listen to some great music and explore its historical context.
Introduction to the Concerto
The concerto has long been one of the most popular genres of classical music, combining the virtuosity of a soloist with the power of an orchestra. This lecture will show you to what to listen for and what to expect in a concerto, and how to get more out of your listening. We will listen to excerpts of some wonderful concertos through history.
An Evening with Chopin
Chopin’s music has delighted us for nearly two hundred years. Perhaps no other composer is so closely associated with the piano, which in his time was newly finding its voice. His too-short life had its own drama and turmoil, with his exile from Poland, his relationship with French authoress George Sand, and his battle with tuberculosis. Join us to spend an evening with this great composer, listening to his music and exploring his life.
The Requiem Mass has been set to music by hundreds of composers for over a thousand years. From Mozart to Verdi, from Gregorian chant to Stravinsky, the variety of style and mood has been immense. Join us for an evening of beautiful music, as we explore the riches of this musical genre.
The Mass in Music
The words of the Mass have been set to music by countless composers for hundreds of years. Composers as diverse as Mozart, Puccini, Stravinsky and Palestrina have all taken the same words and given us a glorious variety of musical settings. Join us as we explore the structure and history of this wonderful genre.
An Evening with Beethoven
The music of Ludwig van Beethoven is some of the most famous of the classical repertoire. And the story of the man behind the music is just as fascinating. Despite becoming completely deaf in his forties, he composed music that still thrills and amazes us today. Join us to spend an evening with this great genius, listening to his music and exploring his life.
What Do Conductors Do?
Classical music conductors: we’ve all seen them, waving their arms around and looking intense. But what are conductors actually doing? What would happen if they stopped conducting? Would the music really fall apart? Why are some conductors more famous others? In this lecture we explore the world of conductors and conducting – the facts and myths about conducting classical music.
An Evening with Mozart
In his short life, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote over six hundred works, many of which are among the most-loved in the classical repertoire, including the Clarinet Concerto and the Requiem. He also dealt with personal tragedy as well as career trials and triumphs. Join us to spend an evening with this great genius, listening to his music and exploring his life.
Some of the most famous classical music of all time has been written for the piano. Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, Debussy’s Claire de Lune, Chopin’s Nocturnes, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, Satie’s Gymnopedies, and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata are just a few. Spend an evening with us exploring the development of the piano, and listening to some beautiful and thrilling music from the piano repertoire.
Words to Music: The Magic of Text Setting
How does the music enhance the text? When a composer takes a text, for a song, an opera, a choral piece, or anything vocal, their job is to bring out the meaning and emotion of the words through appropriate music. We explore how composers have approached this aspect of music, by listening to some innovative and effective examples, and exploring a little of the craft itself and how it works.
An Evening with Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach composed some of the most famous works of the classical repertoire, and influenced more composers than anyone else. Come spend an evening exploring his life and music.
Handel’s Messiah is a remarkable work with a remarkable history: when Charles Jennens prepared the text for Handel, he hoped “that the Composition may excel all his former Compositions, as the Subject excels every other Subject.” In this course we will discuss the background to the composition of this work, and explore the music that makes it one of the most loved choral works of all time.
The Story of Lieder
A perfect blend of words and music in miniature, lieder is a genre which always rewards closer attention. In this lecture we explore some wonderful songs of great composers, and how they brought music to poetry to achieve this marvellous artform.
An Evening with Schubert
The composer of The Trout, Ave Maria, and the Unfinished Symphony, Schubert is one of the most loved composers of Romantic classical music. In his tragically short life, he composed an astonishing wealth and variety of music, and the story of his life is fascinating. We spend an evening exploring the life and music of the great Schubert.
Discovering Programme Music
Programme music is music which paints a picture or tells a story, without the aid of sung or spoken words. From Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Gershwin’s An American in Paris, this genre that has given us some marvellous thrill rides and emotional journeys. As Tchaikovsky put it, shouldn’t music “express those things for which there are not words, but which need to be expressed?”
George Gershwin's Journey to Opera
George Gershwin's first musical job was playing piano at a Catskills Mountains resort. His journey from these beginnings to his opera, “Porgy and Bess,” is a fascinating one, and includes his great symphonic works, Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris. This lecture will explore how he grew from a Tin Pan Alley song plugger to a great operatic composer.
Puccini and the Orchestra
Puccini is one of the most loved opera composers of all time. In this lecture we explore how he used the orchestra and aspects of musical style to enhance the drama of his wonderful operas.
Verdi and the Orchestra
Verdi was one of the greatest composers of the 19th century, and his operas are some of the most loved of all time. His operas never fail to move us emotionally, to draw us in to his dramatic and moving stories, and to send us away singing his melodies. In this lecture, we explore how Verdi used the orchestra and his vast knowledge of the craft of music to create such wonderful operas.
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue
We explore “A Rhapsody in Blue,” a much-loved piece by George Gershwin: what made it such a landmark of its time, and what makes it still so wonderful today.
Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky has given us some of the most-loved pieces of western classical music. In this lecture Susan Deas will explore the background and themes of Tchaikovsky’s famous 1812 overture, with analysis that will enrich your understanding and bring the music to life.
What is an Oratorio?
Combining words and music with choir, soloists and orchestra, the oratorio is one of the grandest genres of classical music. We explore how this wonderful genre works, with its origins and structures. We will listen to excerpts from such great works as Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius.