Understanding the Symphony

1 day, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Conducting hands

What is a symphony? For more than two centuries the symphony has represented the summit of a composer’s ambition. But what actually defines a symphony, and how do you listen to one? Learning more about symphonies can deepen your enjoyment of some of the most wonderful music ever composed. This music course gives you an understanding of what to listen for, and how to get more out of your listening to symphonies. We will explore the structure, history and development of the symphony, and listen to music from some of the greatest symphonies of all time. No musical knowledge is necessary.

Course Outline

Session 1

  • Introduction to the Symphony
  • The Definition of a Symphony
  • First Movement: Sonata Form

Session 2

  • The Classical Symphony
  • The Origins of the Symphony
  • Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven
  • Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 94, 96
  • Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 28, 38, 40 and 41
  • Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 and 9
  • Second Movement: Theme and Variations

Session 3

  • The Romantic Symphony
  • Schubert, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky
  • Schubert: Symphony No. 8
  • Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
  • Mendelssohn: Symphony Nos. 3 and 4
  • Liszt: A Faust Symphony
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
  • Third Movement: Minuet and Trio

Session 4

  • The Twentieth Century Symphony
  • Mahler, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Rakhmaninov, Stravinsky, Shostakovich
  • Sibelius: Symphony No. 2
  • Mahler: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 8
  • Elgar: Symphony No. 2
  • Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 3
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
  • Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1
  • Fourth Movement: Rondo Form

Music we will listen to includes

  • Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 and 9
  • Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
  • Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 94, 96
  • Elgar: Symphony No. 2
  • Liszt: A Faust Symphony
  • Mahler: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 8
  • Mendelssohn: Symphony Nos. 3 and 4
  • Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 28, 38, 40 and 41
  • Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1
  • Schubert: Symphony No. 8
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
  • Sibelius: Symphony No. 2
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
  • Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 3
Book cover Understanding the Symphony

Buy the course notes for this class

In hard copy book form, through Lulu Press
$18 + postage

Comments

“Susan is an excellent lecturer, with excellent knowledge and notes. Her ability to play etc piano assists her courses in a practical and demonstrative way”

“Understanding of the great composers. Love those stories. Enjoyed the demonstration on the piano. Great mix of stories, listening and theory. Excellent tutor who really knows their subject and is passionate about it”

“Absolutely wonderful! Very illuminating and I have learned quite a lot. Thankyou!”

“So enjoyable, did not realise how much I learned. Presentation was lively – great visuals and audio component. Printed notes good – easy to follow, like the list at the back of the booklet, and ideas for easy listening. Enthusiastic presentation. Your love and comfort level about this topic comes through and becomes quite contagious – as a participant I want to know more and more. Fantastic day. Thanks”

“Excellent – enjoyable – timeless music – symphony explained in an easy to understand way”

About Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney. Susan is an accredited piano teacher and musicianship teacher, and is on the Council of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

More about Susan's qualifications

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Susan's other music courses