This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others.
Survey the great historical repertoire of classical music while getting to know its major composers. Enjoy listening as you learn! This course is designed for the beginning student with limited or no musical experience, and can inspire students to love some of the most beautiful pieces of music in the world while enhancing basic artistic literacy.
Our premise is simple. Each lesson will survey one or two of the most acclaimed classical composers of music and a selection of the most famous compositions of each. You will learn about their lives and the cultural circumstances in which they lived and worked. You will listen to their music and come to understand why it sounds different from the music of other composers. You will learn to relate their work to artistic period (for example, Baroque, Romantic) and the artists, writers, or thinkers of their day. We will mention from a Catholic perspective what their spiritual beliefs were and discuss spiritual perspectives that might be discerned through their music.
While we will discuss the historical context of each composer’s work, this is not meant as a comprehensive music history course, nor as a sacred music course. Some periods like early music and modern music had to be poorly represented. Rather, it is a survey of some of the great repertoire of classical music that students will truly enjoy hearing and that will form a foundation from which to explore other composers on their own, later. This is not necessarily intended as a definitive list of the greatest composers of history, though it does include the very greatest; rather, the music was chosen based on being genuinely enjoyable (i.e., not boring) for students to hear and love for a lifetime. The composers are not covered in historical order but in an order that provides the most musical variety and interest. Each week there will be listening assignments lasting from one hour to ninety minutes, total, employing the free availability of performances online (students may then choose to purchase their favorite recordings, if they wish). Most weeks there will be a short open-book multiple choice quiz covering things mentioned in the lecture and some aspects of both the music and the composer.
There is no textbook to buy, but the class power point will serve as a resource itself and will reference optional outside sources, if parents wish to purchase them. This course is geared for high-school students both who do or do not play an instrument or read music and who may have heard very little classical music, as an introduction to classical music. It is a complement to the courses taught by the same instructor called The Sound of Beauty: Music Appreciation for Catholics and Basic Music Theory and may be taken either before or after taking either of those courses.
One full lesson each:
What Makes Music Great? and Johann Sebastian Bach
Ludwig van Beethoven
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
One half lesson each:
Antonin Dvořák and Frédéric Chopin
Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel
Edvard Grieg and Giacomo Puccini
Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler
Ralph Vaughan Williams and Aaron Copland
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Sergei Rachmaninoff
Course Materials: There is no textbook to buy. Free video links will be provided for the students’ listening assignments. Dr. Kurek will provide all music details and additional reference materials (optional), if parents wish to purchase them.
Homework: Each week there will be listening assignments lasting around and hour, employing the free availability of performances online (students may then choose to purchase their favorite recordings if they wish). Each week there will be a short open-book multiple-choice assignment covering the listening and usually a weekly quiz on the concepts and biographical material in the lecture.