School of Music, Theatre
and Dance

Varner Hall, Room 207
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
Academic Office: (248) 370-2030
Box Office: (248) 370-3013
Fax: (248) 370-2041
smtd@oakland.edu

School of Music, Theatre
and Dance

Varner Hall, Room 207
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
Academic Office: (248) 370-2030
Box Office: (248) 370-3013
Fax: (248) 370-2041
smtd@oakland.edu

Graduate Music History Assessment Study Guide

The music history assessment reviews basic common-practice era (Baroque through Romantic) historical information and style characteristics. The assessment must be completed successfully before incoming graduate students enroll in music history courses. The assessment consists of an essay section and a score excerpt section. If the student does not perform well on the first attempt, he or she may retake the entire assessment at the next scheduled assessment. If the student passes one section of the assessment, he or she may retake just the substandard section at the next scheduled assessment.

This study guide must be used in conjunction with:

  • Donald Jay Grout, Claude Palisca and J. Peter Burkholder, A History of Western
    Music, 9
    th edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014).
  • J. Peter Burkholder, eds. Norton Anthology of Western Music: Classic to
    Twentieth Century, Vols. 1, 2 and 3, 7th edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014).

The assessment consists of 2 essay questions addressing two different historical periods (2 essays out of the 9 listed on the study guide will appear on the assessment). You will receive 4 score excerpts (4 of the 15 works listed on the study guide will appear on the assessment) and answer the following questions for each. A recording of each of the 4 excerpts will be played at the assessment.

  1. List the composer and title of the work
  2. List several style characteristics representative of the historical period and identify them in the score with annotations (E.g. label and circle the sequences in the Vivaldi Violin Concerto in A Major)
  3. Explain the historical significance and function of the composition. For example, if the Vivaldi Violin Concerto in A Major is played, it is important to outline several points. The work is illustrative of the rise of instrumental music in the Baroque era and the popularity of the solo concerto, which typically uses a ritornello form in the outer movements. Vivaldi was employed in Venice as the music director at an orphanage for girls and composed the bulk of his 500 concertos for his students.

Please direct questions about the assessment to Dr. Payette (payette@oakland.edu) or Dr. Kidger (kidger@oakland.edu).

BAROQUE ERA (1600-1750)

Score Excerpts

Be able to identify Baroque style characteristics (listed below) in the scores of the following works and to discuss the work’s function and historical significance (see instructions on page 1).

  1. NAWM 74: Claudio Monteverdi, excerpts from Orfeo [1607, opera]
  2. NAWM 94: Arcangelo Corelli, Trio Sonata in D Major, Op. 3, no. 2 [c. 1680s, chamber music]
  3. NAWM 96: Antonio Vivaldi, Concerto for Violin in A Minor, Op. 3, no. 6 [c. 1710, solo concerto]
  4. NAWM 103: J.S. Bach, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, All movements [1724, Church cantata]
  5. NAWM 105: G.F. Handel, Excerpts from Giulio Cesare [1724, Opera]

Baroque Style Characteristics

Basso continuo (instruments that realize the figured bass shorthand)

Concertato Medium

Ornamentation

Melodic sequences

Idiomatic Techniques/Virtuosity that capitalizes on the strengths of individual instruments

Treble-bass polarity (the outer voices are the most prominent)

Use of expressive chromaticism

Perpetual motion in fast-tempo Italian instrumental music

Ritornello Form

Fugue/Contrapuntal Texture

Binary Form

Da Capo Aria

Other Concepts and Terminology

Patronage

Recitative (flexible rhythm to mirror the flow of speech)

Solo Concerto

Cantata

Concerto Grosso

Baroque Era: Possible Short Essay Topics (4-5 Paragraphs)

A thorough essay includes an overview of the historical context and indication of landmark dates, as well as specific examples of pertinent compositional devices that occur in representative compositions.

  1. French, German, and Italian national characteristics emerge during the Baroque Era. Discuss the key attributes of each national style.
  2. The invention of opera occurs at the beginning of the Baroque Era. Explain how this genre came to fruition and why Monteverdi’s operas are regarded as the first significant contributions to the genre.
  3. Compare and contrast the careers and output of J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel.

CLASSICAL ERA (C. 1730–1815)

Score Excerpts


Be able to identify Classical style characteristics (listed below) in the scores of the following works and to discuss the work’s function and historical significance (see instructions on page 1).

  1. NAWM 113: Domenico Scarlatti, Sonata in D Major, K. 119 [c. 1740s, Solo keyboard]
  2. NAWM 119: Joseph Haydn, Symphony No. 88 in G Major, Hob. I:88, All movements [1787, Symphony]
  3. NAWM 121: W.A. Mozart, Piano Sonata in F Major, K. 332, First movement [1781-83, Solo Keyboard]
  4. NAWM 124: W.A. Mozart, Excerpts from Don Giovanni [1787, Opera]
  5. NAWM : Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in Eb Major, “Eroica,” First movement [1803, Symphony]

Classical Style Characteristics

References to particular “topics” (musical codes that listeners would connect to particular moods or occasions in everyday life): Galant style; empfindsam style; Hunting style; learned style; chorale style; brilliant style

Alberti bass

Emphasis on greater clarity in music achieved through Periodicity (antecedent-consequent phrase structures) and frequent resting points (cadences)

Symphony [standard 4 movement structure: 1. Sonata Form 2. Slow Movement 3. Minuet and Trio or Scherzo Movement 4. Finale: sonata form or rondo form]

Sonata form [Exposition – Development – Recapitulation]

Other Concepts and Terminology

The principles of Enlightenment thinkers and rulers

Musical attributes of compositions from Beethoven’s Early, Middle, and Late Periods

Classical Era: Possible Short Essay Topics (4-5 Paragraphs)

A thorough essay includes an overview of the historical context and indication of landmark dates, as well as specific examples of pertinent compositional devices that occur in representative compositions.

  1. How did Enlightenment ideals influence social thought and the Classical style? Cite particular compositions that illustrate these qualities.
  2. How did Classical composers build on Baroque models? What genres from the Baroque era became extinct in the Classical era?
  3. Compare and contrast the careers and output of Joseph Haydn and W.A. Mozart.

ROMANTIC ERA (1815–1900)

Score Excerpts

Be able to identify Romantic style characteristics (listed below) in the scores of the following works and to discuss the work’s function and historical significance (see instructions on page 1).

  1. NAWM 130: Robert Schumann, “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” from Dichterliebe [1840, Song Cycle]
  2. NAWM 135: Fryderyk Chopin, Nocturne in Db Major, Op. 27 no. 2 [1835, Solo Keyboard]
  3. NAWM 138: Hector Berlioz, Symphonie fantastique, Fifth movement [1830, Symphony]
  4. NAWM 149: Richard Wagner, Prelude and Excerpts from Tristan und Isolde [1857-59, Opera]
  5. NAWM 156: Johannes Brahms, Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34, First movement [1862-64, Chamber Music]

Romantic Style Characteristics

Expansion of orchestra and formal structures

Use of chromatic harmony (fully diminished seventh chords; augmented sixth chords; chromatic mediants [e.g. bVI])

Broader melodic contour, often with wide leaps

Contrast of remote key areas, dynamics, and tone color

Expressive use of extended techniques [e.g. tremolo, col legno]

Other Concepts and Terminology

Romantic art’s focus on the individual and self-expression

Absolute vs. Characteristic vs. Program Music

Bel canto opera: emphasis on beautiful, embellished melodies is emulated in piano music by Chopin and Liszt

1848 Revolutions [revolts that aim to overthrow the aristocracy eventually lead to the unification of Italy and Germany]

Romantic Era: Possible Short Essay Topics (4-5 Paragraphs)

A thorough essay includes an overview of the historical context and indication of landmark dates, as well as specific examples of pertinent compositional devices that occur in representative compositions.

  1. Beethoven introduces new compositional innovations in his Late Period. Discuss these innovations and how they set the stage for the Romantic Era.
  2. Explain how the revolutionary changes in European society––such as the industrial revolution, rising nationalism, and the decline of aristocratic patronage ––affect Romantic music.
  3. Compare and contrast the careers and output of Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner.