Mendelssohn (55+)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) was arguably the most remarkable child prodigy the world of music has ever known. Born into a cultured and prosperous German-Jewish family, he began composing operas, symphonies, concertos and chamber music in his early teens.

We will explore some of the treasures among Mendelssohn’s early and mature compositions, from oratorios and concert overtures to chamber and piano music.

Note: This course is available twice in the spring 2019 term.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Dramatic Music

Although Mendelssohn never achieved his desire to compose a successful opera, his incidental music to the plays Antigone, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Athalia contain splendid music.

Week 2: Oratorio and Religious Identity

Mendelssohn's family converted from Judaism to Christianity when Felix and his sister Fanny were young. His great oratorios St. Paul and Elijah explore his conflicted feelings over his family's religious identity.

Week 3: Symphonic Landscapes

Among Mendelssohn's most beloved works, the ‘Italian’ and ‘Scottish’ symphonies are affectionate postcards from his European travels.

Week 4: Concert Overtures and Concertos

Mendelssohn's other orchestral works include his descriptive overtures Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and The Hebrides, as well as his brilliant and popular Piano Concertos and Violin Concerto.

Week 5: Chamber Music

From the youthful Octet to the great string quartets of his maturity, Mendelssohn's chamber music shows his technical and expressive development over the course of his career.

Week 6: Piano Music

The eight books of Songs Without Words were composed over a period of more than a decade and a half, and include some of Mendelssohn's most popular pieces.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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