Summer School Week Two – Five Centuries of Classical Music with Wayne Bennett


Music Appreciation

Summer school

Day course

Residential course

Wayne Bennett

16 August 2020 to 22 August 2020

Fees from £56 per day non resident

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The Story of western classical music is complex and full of remarkable turns and challenges. This course will chart a course from the medieval world to the present day. Along the way we discover how music was instrument in the creation of new courts, kingdoms and empires. We will see how the role of the composer and musicians changed over time to express new cultural sensibilities. We will examine the development of the concerto, the symphony and chamber music. Ballet and Opera will make an appearance of course. To help us understand the development of so many idioms we will look at the contemporaneous art and architecture as well as historic events and circumstances.

No prior knowledge will be assumed and handouts will be provided. Lavishly illustrated throughout.

Residential Fees From: £868.   Non Residential: £280 (There is no Patrons discount for this course)

This course can be booked for the entire week of you can book individual days at a cost of £56 per day.

Monday 17 August – Beginnings
Within the formal settings of the church and the court lay the foundations of what we understand as classical music. Of course there were other forms of music too such as street and tavern music. To start our journey we will consider the European tradition of plainchant and the rich aural possibilities of polyphony. Then we will experience the poetic and chivalric world of courtly love in the company of troubadours and their kin. Travelling wider afield, we will examine the influence of musical idioms from medieval Europe and see how music from the east enriched the west to produce a truly remarkable sound world.

Tuesday 18 August – The Seventeenth Century
The age sees the founding of new centres of power based on the city-state and it is in these places that new art forms developed. In England music’s new champions are Byrd, Gibbons, Dowland and Purcell. Naples and Venice become important centres for music with composers such as Monteverdi, Cavalli, Gabrielli and Scarlatti. In Germany, Buxtehude and Pachelbel become significant figures. Corelli works in Rome whilst Lully dominates the music of the French court. The century sees the invention of the Baroque form – playful and energetic.

Wednesday 19 August – The Eighteenth Century
The century encapsulates the maturing of the Baroque as well as the properly ‘classical’ age in music. It is an age when dance forms are transformed into refined musical norms. It is the age of Rameau, Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi and JS Bach. Later in the century huge changes take place through the musical experimentation of Haydn and ultimately Mozart. We will listen to some astonishingly beautiful music as well as understand the scope of the music that was being invented across the century. Of course it was also the century in which the piano was invented and we consider the impact of this for the course of musical history.

Thursday 20 August – The Nineteenth Century
The nineteenth century was dominated by the figure of Beethoven. His creative genius was remarkable. Mindful of his achievement other great composers emerged – Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms. The century also sees the development of opera culminating in the music of Wagner and Verdi. In Russia, ballet music finds a new champion in Tchaikovsky, the composer who also transforms orchestral writing. Classical music finds new audiences as new centres of population grow and performers like Paganini and Liszt become the super-stars of the age. We will discuss Romanticism and listen to the extraordinary transformations which took place and consider the cultural legacy of the age.

Friday 21 August – The Twentieth Century
The parallels with the visual arts are instructive. Although certain traditional forms continued, the start of the century also saw a kaleidoscopic breakdown of what had become mainstream. Traditional music was mined to bolster various nationalistic movements whilst some composers explored formalist concepts. Composers discussed include Mahler, Elgar, Puccini, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Britten and Tippett. The course ends with a brief assessment as to where classical music is today.

Tutor information

Wayne Bennett: After an initial training and career in the theatre (including working for over four years at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) Wayne studied fine art and art history at Camberwell School of Art and Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, where he obtained a first class honours degree. For two years he worked for the Contemporary Art Society based at the Tate Gallery after which he moved to Dorset. For 23 years he led the team at Dillington House until his retirement in early 2015. He now divides his time between his many research interests – archaeology, cartography, cultural history, music and art. Wayne is Co-Director of the Dillington Summer School and continues to originate and tutor courses for Dillington and elsewhere. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.