The History of Western Art Music

Ref: C3676046

To-day, ‘Western Art Music’ is often mistakenly known as ‘Classical’ music, which is an incorrect term. The ‘Classical’ period is from c.1750 to c.1800. This term-long course is for the study and appreciation of Western Art Music from c.1600 to c.2000. We will investigate how art (i.e. not folk or 'popular') music has developed since the Baroque period. We will examine how politics, social changes and the technological developments of the Industrial Revolution changed the whole nature of music, through its changing audiences, new, bigger and better instruments and the availability of recorded music and broadcasting. We will also be investigating how technological developments allowed more travel, therefore spreading musical ideas from different cultures. No composer is an island, so we will also investigate musical influences from other genres, particularly in the last hundred years, or so. Lastly, we will look at why the music exists, in the first place, i.e. what is its purpose?

Course aim

An introduction to and an appreciation of Western Art Music from c.1600 to c.2000. We will analyse the songs, symphonies, operas, oratorios and sonatas of (amongst other composers) Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Elgar and Gershwin.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Understand and define the term 'Musical Genre'
  • Understand and be able to define the different characteristics of different musical genres.
  • Understand the importance of technology in the development of Western Art Music.
  • Understand and appreciate who the original audiences for the music were and how that has changed, through time.

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
  • 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?

  • All materials will be provided
  • Please bring a notebook and a pen or pencil to all tutorials.

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

Download full course information sheet

The History of Western Art Music

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This course has been cancelled.


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 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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