Seven Composers (MHI2001.01)

Allen Shawn

In this course we will study the lives and music of seven fascinating composers whose work can be looked at from a variety of angles–historical, social and musical. They are: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Florence Price, Vivian Fine, Nina Simone, Galina Ustvolskaya and Sofia Gubaidulina. Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel was the sister of one of the most celebrated composers of her day; Nina Simone is best known as a jazz singer; Vivian Fine taught here at Bennington; Florence Price’s work, known to a degree during her life time, was subsequently almost entirely lost, and only rediscovered in the last few years. All seven composers were women; two of them Black American women. Although our primary intention will be to investigate and celebrate their artistry, we will inevitably confront the social issues that affected their lives in music, and in some cases the serious obstacles they faced. Since our list includes figures spanning both the 19th and 20th centuries, we will also deal with musical concepts pertinent to European and American music of those times. There are no prerequisites for this class. Students will be encouraged to bring their own fields of interest to bear on the composers we are discussing.

Homework will include listening and reading assignments, oral presentations in class, short written responses, and one 6-8 page paper.


Learning Outcomes:
Research and writing skills
Expansion of listening perceptions
Knowledge of musical concepts
Increased understanding of Music History
Presentation Skills



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 16
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: Fully In-Person , All courses , History
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