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Online Study of Masterworks Offered as Part of Classical Music Project

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Classical Music Project

A new course that seeks to demystify classical music is open to Penn State students, through the university’s School of Music, due in part to the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State Classical Music Project.

 Under the Hood: How Classical Music Works (Music 011) is a new online course authored by Stephen Hopkins, assistant professor of music at Penn State. The course examines selected works from 16 of the greatest composers of western art music, with emphasis on the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras. The curriculum combines aspects of two existing courses, Rudiments of Music (Music 008) and Introduction to Western Music (Music 005).

 The course was developed as part of the Center for the Performing Arts Classical Music Project,, which is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project, now in its third season, provides opportunities to engage Penn State students, faculty and the community with classical music artists and programs.

 “Stephan Hopkins has been very creative in designing this course,” said George Trudeau, director of the Center for the Performing Arts. “I’m very impressed with how he breaks down the various components of classical music, makes full use of digital media and brings it all together so students will gain a greater understanding of the art form. The performances by our talented Penn State faculty are an outstanding addition to the course, and I’m pleased that, due to demand, we are now offering two sections for a total enrollment of 200 students.”

 One of the distinguishing features of the course is its emphasis on conceptual understanding of compositional techniques, along with the use of video recordings of School of Music performance faculty.

 In order to encourage appreciation and understanding of classical music among a wider audience, faculty performances—featuring works such as Ludwig van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Eline Kleine Nachtmusik and Johann Sebastian Bach’s First Cello Suite—were video-recorded and will be posted weekly by the College of Arts and Architecture throughout the spring 2014 semester.

 The first video features Kim Cook, professor of cello at Penn State, performing all six movements of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major. See the video at