Romance and Revolution in Musical History

Ref: C2224259

Music mostly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries demonstrating how composers' personal lives influenced their music - Schumann's joy at marrying Clara produced some of his happiest works; many operatic composers wrote for singers with whom they were in love (though the love was not always reciprocated!) and sometimes the secrets behind a composition have only been discovered after the composer's death. Other composers found themselves caught up in revolutions of various kinds and this affected their writing. In the case of Wagner, revolution and romance (usually with other men's wives) are entwined - however immoral his behaviour, the music is often wonderful!

Course aim

Many composers were inspired by love, happy or unrequited; others were inspired by political and cultural revolution. This course considers both.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • It is not necessary to be able to read music or play any musical instrument

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

  • demonstrate an awareness of extra-musical influences on composers' work
  • show how individual performers influenced composers' thinking
  • evaluate the effect of socio-political thinking on music

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
  • Music examples will be introduced, played on recordings or 'live' and discussed

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
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • In a few weeks, one can only scrape the surface but the course could inspire students to explore more works by the composers studied, or to delve into works by their contemporaries.

Download full Course information sheet

Romance and Revolution in Musical History


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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