COOL CLASSES: “A Musical Millennium: From Convent to Concert Hall”

COOL CLASSES: “A Musical Millennium: From Convent to Concert Hall”

Class name: A Musical Millennium: From Convent to Concert Hall

Taught by: Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Myron Gray


Here’s what Gray has to say about his course:

The course examines musical change over a thousand-year span. How—and why—did Western music evolve from a monastic ritual of plain, unaccompanied song to become a secular entertainment for elite audiences in modern cities? The focus alternates between style and context, because I want students to understand music as both sound and social process.

This course teaches students to hear how musical style changes over time while considering the social and technological conditions that underpin such changes. We listen closely and critically to works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Stravinsky, among others, discussing these using a precise shared vocabulary. At the same time, we read historical documents closely related to musical sound: Bach’s frustrating negotiations with his church employers; Mozart’s intimate letters to his father and musical mentor, Leopold; the emotional testament in which Beethoven grapples with his hearing loss.

The content of the course isn’t new, but I wanted to reframe it in a way that reaches students who haven’t been exposed to classical music. The more perspectives in the room, the more fruitful the discussion. I call the class “A Musical Millennium” to distinguish it from the history of music. It’s one of many musical histories, and I make it together with the students.



See what other courses the Department of Music is offering this semester.

Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience. 

Photo by Thom Carroll. 

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