New Worlds: Discovering Czech Symphonic Music

Ref: C3744334

This course will trace the fascinating story of Czech symphonic music from the mid eighteenth century to the present day. We will examine famous names such as Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček and Martinů, but attention will also be paid to several other important, if less familiar, composers like Fibich, Suk and Novák, whose role in the development of the Czech symphonic tradition was paramount. The influence of earlier symphonists such as Gluck and Mozart's friend Mysliveček will also be studied. Alongside the 'pure' symphony, we will consider the important part that Czech composers played in raising the symphonic poem – that most quintessentially Romantic of all musical genres – to new and unsurpassed heights of tone painting. The use of folk elements in art music goes back many centuries, but the incorporation of Slavic folk dances like the polka and furiant means that Czech symphonists, particularly Dvořák, Smetana and Fibich, developed their own distinctly national musical flavour.

Course aim

To explore and experience the wealth of Czech symphonic masterpieces from the last 250 years. This course will introduce many superb, yet often neglected, works that complement the splendours of Dvořák's 'New World' Symphony and Smetana's 'Vltava'.

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:

  • describe how the Czech symphony evolved within the wider context of European symphonic music
  • discuss the important roles that nature and literature played in shaping the Romantic symphonic poem in the Czech Lands
  • explain how Slavic folk dances helped to create a distinctly national musical flavour among the major nineteenth-century Czech symphonic composers

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
  • At the end of each session, the tutor will make suggestions for further listening.

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
  • Subject to your agreement, the tutor will email notes that cover the main topics covered in each session.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • There are currently very few books on Czech music in print, but the following book is useful (and also comes complete with 2 CDs of musical examples): 'Dvořák: His Life and Music' by Neil Wenborn, Naxos Books, 2008

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

New Worlds: Discovering Czech Symphonic Music

Enrolment Conditions

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

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

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