Phantom of the Puccini

So I was going for a clever pun, but it didn’t really work out that way. What I’m trying to say is that I think I’ve come up with a topic for my history paper! Apparently the song “The Music of the Night” from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera was accused of plagiarizing an opera by Puccini written in 1910, and his estate tried to sue for it but it didn’t go through. But, I thought it would be interesting to look into the similarities between the two pieces and in doing that look at similarities between musicals and opera.

This is, of course, if my prof approves the topic. I’m hoping that he does. ūüėõ

Course Evaluation: MUSC 220

MUSC 220: The third installment of core music history courses.

Course Description: In this history course you will learn about Romantic music, spanning from Beethoven to Wagner and a bit of Strauss. You’ll be required to know about various concepts as well as be able to recognize from listening excerpts covered in class. This course contains quite a lot of opera.

Textbook use:¬† Textbooks for this class are the Burkholder¬†History of Western Music and the Norton Anthology of Music vol. 2. Honestly, I got by without either one. The textbook can be useful if you miss a lecture, or if rereading what you heard in class is helpful to you, or if you want to preread. But everything you needed to know was in the lectures. (This could change if the professor changes.) As for the anthology, I didn’t even buy the second volume and got by fine without it. And although the CDs probably aren’t a bad idea, you can also listen to them in the library or find recordings on Youtube.

Homework: Not much homework in this class, although there is an in-class writing component once per week. You get the readings beforehand, but not the writing prompt. You’d come into the tutorial, have a few minutes of discussion, then have about 30 minutes to write something on the prompt. Oh, and you’re being graded on your writing skill as well as content. Other than that, there were one midterm and a paper.

Professor: To the best of my knowledge, MUSC 220 is usually taught by Vera Micznik, but I guess she was on sabbatical or something because once again we had Professor Fullerton. I like him as a prof; he’s very clear about what you need to know and explains it clearly.

Class format:Two lectures per week, and one tutorial on Wednesday or Friday with a TA. Tutorial class sizes are smaller than the lecture.

Additional comments: While not really very hard, there was a lot of material covered in this class, so if you want to do well on exams, start studying EARLY. Seriously.

Course Evaluation: MUSC 121

Yet another very late course review, this time for History II. Please note that for this class, my professor was a sessional instructor, filling in until they hired someone to permanently teach this class. So some this about this course may vary somewhat from what I experienced.

Course Description: This class covers the history of music starting around 1600 in the Baroque period and moving into the Classical period, ending with Haydn and Mozart.

Textbook use: This course requires three textbooks,¬†Norton Anthology of Western Music Vol. 1 and 2¬†(and the accompanying CDs)¬†and¬†A History of Western Music¬†(Burkholder). The Anthology had excerpts that were studied in class; I found it much more important than in MUSC 120 because while I didn’t really find I needed it in class, there were actually listening questions on tests. ¬†The Burkholder textbook was again mostly to reinforce what was said in class. In fact, a lot of the time what was on the slides in class was almost exactly what was in the text.

Homework: This class didn’t have a whole lot of homework, but more than MUSC 120. There was one large research paper as well as two “library assignments” in which you had to make sample bibliographies. ¬†This term, rather than a quiz every week, we had four “midterms” which were non-cumulative and the final was the same size as the rest of the tests. They were a fair bit harder than the quizzes of term 1 (though not super hard), so more studying would be necessary.

Professor: I had Graeme Fullerton, who like I said was a sessional instructor while the school was deciding who to hire for the position. ¬†I doubt you’ll have him for this course, but if you do get him for something, I find him to be pretty good: he makes his expectations clear and keeps the lectures interesting.

Class format: Two lectures per week in the recital hall, class size of about 80ish? Something like that. ¬†There was a greater emphasis on general concepts than on specific characteristics of a given piece, ie. you don’t need to know “in measure 40 of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony the transition from main theme area to transition was strange…” etc.

Additional comments: I really liked that the tests for this course were not cumulative; it made exam time more relaxing! Also, since there ARE going to be listening portions of the midterms, make sure you actually listen to the pieces you need to know at least a week before the test. Trying to cram them into your brain the night before is not going to work and you are not going to remember them the next day. ¬†And actually listen! Remember different motives or characteristics of each piece, such as instrumentation, tempo, melodies, rhythms, etc, and don’t just have the music playing while doing homework and vacuuming your room: it’s not gonna stick that way.