Selecting Dots, Connecting Dots: The Score Anthology as History

Mark Evan Bonds


The standard survey of music history course for undergraduate music majors traditionally includes an anthology of scores for study. Instructors can use a commercially produced anthology, create their own, or use some combination of the two. In any case, instructors should try to select works that allow students to follow various narrative threads throughout the history of music. This has long been done in music of the Medieval and Renaissance eras in tracing the development of a particular chant into a motet via organum and clausua, or the use of a motet as the basis for an imitation (“parody”) Mass. Later eras offer other opportunities to examine the ways in which different composers have approached similar challenges. Examples discussed in this essay include: (1) C-Major preludes (J. S. Bach, Chopin, Liszt); (2) C-Major openings problematized (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert); (3) the “Tristan Chord” (Wagner, Debussy, Berg); (4) cross-generic parallels (Chopin nocturnes and Verdi’s La Traviata; the suite in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Berg’s Wozzeck); (5) different settings of the same text (Luzzaschi and Monteverdi; Reichardt, Zelter, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Wolf, Berg); (6) specific compositional techniques such as ostinato (Monteverdi, Purcell, Stravinsky); (7) analogous dramatic situations (introductory baritone arias in operas by Pergolesi, Mozart, and Rossini); (8) autobiographical ciphers (J. S. Bach, Schumann, Berg, Shostakovich); and (9) arrangements and reworkings of existing movements or works (J. C. Bach, W. A. Mozart).


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ISSN 2155-109X