Beethoven, Blake, and the Sounds of Revolution

Spring 2016 quarter

Taught by

Ideas matter. Words and music are powerful; they can profoundly alter how we view ourselves, everything outside ourselves, and the intersection of the two. What can the works of composer Ludwig van Beethoven and poet William Blake teach us about the power of imagination and the possibilities of human freedom? Through close listening and reading, we will study the textures of their work in the context of the 19th century, as well as consider several of their late 19 th -century inheritors and 20 th -century transformers and critics: in poetry, the experimental formalism of Gertrude Stein and Louis Zukofsky (“upper level music, lower level speech”); and in music, the compositions of Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, and Arnold Schoenberg. Other readings will include Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy Out of The Spirit of Music, Georg Buchner's Lenz, and Adalbert Stifter's Rock Crystal, as well as essays by Maynard Solomon, Richard Taruskin, Edward Said, and Theodore Adorno. Particular works of Beethoven to be considered are the 9th Symphony and the opera Fidelio , as well as Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell."

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

literature, poetics, performance, writing, and music.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

No Required Online Learning

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Required Fees

$50 for entrance fees.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Numbers

So (16 credits): 30135
Jr (16 credits): 30136
Sr (16 credits): 30137

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