History of Music at Bennington College 1932-present (MHI2321.01)

Allen Shawn

Music was a central part of Bennington College from its beginnings. Not only was Bennington’s hands-on approach to teaching innovative and unapologetically progressive, so was its hiring policy: performing musicians were to be full-time faculty and the study of an instrument was considered an academic pursuit.  In this course we will study the history of Music teaching at the College as a reflection of larger trends in Music and in the culture, paying particular attention to the performers and composers who have taught here. Like all courses, this one has a particular focus while also introducing concepts, subjects and skills that have wide application. By studying important and exciting figures in music who flourished in this community–including Otto Luening, Henry Brant, Louis Calabro, Vivian Fine, Lionel Nowak, Bill Dixon, Milford Graves, Gunnar Schonbeck, Marta Ptaszynska, Joel Chadabe and many others–we will also encounter some of the dominant movements in the music of the time, from neoclassicism, to dissonant counterpoint, to ‘ultra-modernism’, to free jazz, to the evolution of electronic music. We will also investigate the many distinguished performers who have served on the Bennington Faculty and will listen to performances from the college archives, including student concerts by those who have since become important active musicians.

Students will take the helm in this study. Assignments will include many small oral presentations, short papers, listening assignments, deep dives into the archives, and interviews with former and current Bennington faculty and students. The hope would be to add to the College’s own self-awareness, and to its pool of historical materials.

Learning Outcomes:
Ability to do research and do interviews
Writing and speaking skills
Awareness of trends and movements in 20th and 21st century music

Delivery Method: Remotely accessible
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 12
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , History , Remotely Accessible