MUS 275
Shakespeare through Music Spring 2023
Division I

Class Details

The plays of William Shakespeare are replete with references to music, and in his day included singing and even dancing as part of the narrative. As his plays entered the global canon, composers and choreographers, along with musicians and dancers, have contributed as avidly to interpreting Shakespeare’s plots and characters as have theater directors and actors across the world. This tutorial course will focus on three plays–the tragedies Romeo and Juliet and Othello, and the comedy Midsummer Night’s Dream–in order to compare and contrast a broad range of ways in which music works to tell these stories and portray these characters. We will consider these three plays in genres ranging from symphony orchestra, opera, and ballet to film scores, modern dance, jazz, musical theater, and popular song. Music from the Renaissance to the present day will be explored, including composers such as Purcell, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Prokofiev, Bernstein, Britten, Ellington, and Costello. We will also examine film scores ranging from the silent era through such directors as Max Reinhardt, Orson Welles, Franco Zeffirelli, and Baz Luhrmann. Through comparative analysis of different approaches to relating Shakespeare’s plays through music, this tutorial aims to develop both critical listening to music and critical thinking about music.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 6
Class#: 3858
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: each student will write five 6- to 7-page essays, and provide five peer reviews; evaluation will be based on the quality of written work and discussion
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Students majoring or planning to major in Music, English, or Theater.
Distributions: Division I

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