What on Earth is That NOISE? Music in the 20th Century

Ref: C3742949

For some, the phrase 'Twentieth Century Music' still has an intimidating ring to it. But let's remember that, although major figures of the last century included Schönberg, Varèse and Cage, there was also Mahler, Shostakovich and Bernstein - immensely popular and accessible composers. This course will aim to embrace that breadth, but also meet some of the challenges head-on, seeking to investigate why composers have often felt forced to go to extremes to express their feelings and beliefs.

Course aim

An exploration of the enormous range and variety of music in the 20th century.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Understand more fully the issues facing composers in more modern times and explain some of these.
  • Show in discussion an appreciation of the music of the past hundred years or so in the context of the unfolding history of music.
  • Identify the major figures of 20th century music, their contributions and characteristics.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Listening to the music of any major 20th century composers would be useful preparation, but especially that of Stravinsky, Schönberg, Shostakovich, Bartók, Arvo Pärt and John Adams.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member

Download full course information sheet

What on Earth is That NOISE? Music in the 20th Century


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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