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MUS 131 — Beethoven’s Nine Symphonies

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Apr 15—Jun 3
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 17
Unit: 1
Tuition: $420
Instructor(s): Ilias Chrissochoidis
Limit: 40
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on May 27
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
7:00—8:50 pm PT)
Apr 15—Jun 3
7 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 17
1 Unit
Ilias Chrissochoidis
Please Note: No class on May 27
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The nine symphonies composed by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) constitute the most influential body of music in modern times. These symphonies elevated the tradition of orchestral music to unprecedented heights, establishing themselves as timeless models of the symphonic genre. Beyond their sheer craftsmanship and emotional resonance, Beethoven uniquely transformed abstract sounds and harmonic processes into universal narratives. For the first time in history, music, in its purest form, could claim a universality akin to the great works of Sophocles, Michelangelo, and Shakespeare.

This course will take students on a journey through musical genius by combining a survey of Beethoven’s symphonies with a critical probing of their intellectual power and spiritual depth. We will then delve into specific examples, such as how a four-note motif can inspire a movement lasting several minutes (as seen in the Fifth Symphony) and his masterful incorporation of voices in the grand finale of the Ninth Symphony. Students will have the opportunity to thoroughly examine Beethoven's masterworks while also listening to the instructor's live performance of piano examples. You will leave the course with a deeper appreciation for Beethoven’s genius and the reasons behind his enduring impact on classical music to this day.

A basic knowledge of this repertory is required.

Research Associate, Department of Music, Stanford

Ilias Chrissochoidis is a music historian, composer, and pianist. His dissertation on the early reception of Handel's oratorios received a Geballe Fellowship at Stanford Humanities Center, and his postdoctoral research on the composer earned him numerous awards, including fellowships from the American Council for Learned Societies and the Library of Congress. Aside from dozens of research articles on Handel, he is also the creator of the Handel Reference Database (HRD), the largest online collection of documents on the composer. He received a PhD in musicology from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.