Cover art for Classical Music as part of the Music Humanities syllabus

Explore Classical Music

Published: November 7, 2019

Enjoy a few selections from this section of the Music Humanities syllabus highlighted below.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)

Cutting out the most inflammatory calls for social equality from Beaumarchais’s American-revolution-inspired French play, Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte (later Columbia’s first professor of Italian) nonetheless retained its bourgeois virtues (fidelity and marital love) and the triumph of the quick-witted (and quick-singing) Figaro over the Count’s outmoded privilege.

Album cover of recording of Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)
Audio: Mozart, "Le Nozze di Figaro" (The Marriage of Figaro)

Recording: René Jacobs, Concerto Köln

Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony no. 5 in C minor

The best-known of all rhythmic motifs, the first four notes instantly conjure fate, struggle, heroism, or in the words of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1813), the “realm of the monstrous and immeasurable,” awakening an “infinite longing.” Tracing the motif through all four movements of the symphony shows an inexorable process of thought, as the trajectory of the struggle ends in triumph.

Album cover of recording of Beethoven Symphony 5
Audio: Beethoven, Symphony no. 5 in C minor

Recording: John Eliot Gardiner, Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique

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