Ronsheim's lectures on 20th century music
August 26, 2008 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Course materials and taped lectures (nearly 70 hours worth) from John Ronsheim's classes on 20th century music at Antioch College.
posted by Wolfdog (13 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks so much!

Can anyone tell me how this compares to Robert Greenberg's How to Listen and Understand Great Music lectures? I dug that one.
posted by surenoproblem at 5:36 AM on August 26, 2008

posted by kosem at 6:57 AM on August 26, 2008

Let's see...

32 more hours of work this week, 34 next week (Monday holiday.) I'll be able to start being productive at work again on Monday the 8th at 12:30 PM.

Awesome, awesome link. Thank you so very much.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:58 AM on August 26, 2008

(Surenoproblem -- Bob was one of my teachers in grad school. His course is awesome!)
posted by mothershock at 7:11 AM on August 26, 2008

Wow, what a great resource. It's interesting to see what classes in 20th century music were like ~20 years ago... speaking as someone who has taken some recently, the canon hasn't changed much, with a couple interesting exceptions:

In Ronsheim's classes there seems to be very little of the mid-century American experimental stuff (Cage, Feldman, Wolff, Brown, etc.), which seems to have swelled in importance in recent years, and no minimalism at all! I don't know if people just weren't aware of minimalism then, or if it was pooh-poohed as lowbrow and coarse. Either way, it's an curious omission.
posted by speicus at 8:52 AM on August 26, 2008

Oh, and no American populist stuff either (Copland/Bernstein/Gershwin/etc.) or even the American serialists (Babbitt/Carter/etc.). The whole class seems to have a European slant to it now that I look at it... Ives and Cage get name-checked, but that's it for the USA. There's also a lot of fuss over Dallapiccola, who you don't hear much about anymore.

OK, I'll shut up now.
posted by speicus at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, I get the impression that his aim was to follow one storyline and develop it very thoroughly, with a lot of emphasis on how one thing leads to a subsequent thing; that is, I suppose, an emphasis on the threads of continuity that can be found in the 20th century. This is a good complement to courses with greater breadth that can leave an impression of the 20th century as impossibly scattered and disconnected.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:37 AM on August 26, 2008

Great post. 20th century classical music can be impossible to appreciate with the more avant-garde composers and it can become an ingame for academics. Though I wholeheartedly support innovation and experimentation, at the risk of sounding like an artistic reactionary, this video makes a point, albeit heavy handedly.
posted by bodywithoutorgans at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2008

The whole class seems to have a European slant to it now that I look at it... Ives and Cage get name-checked, but that's it for the USA.

It's an intentional omission--from the syllabus:

This course, more-or-less, complements the course, THE MUSICAL SCENE USA, Past and Present. for this reason, music conceived by Americans in the USA is only superficially referred to.

Good course, thanks for the post.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:02 AM on August 26, 2008

Holy shit. I just finished reading The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross and was wondering if I was ever going to make the effort to hunt down all the awesome music I read about . . . this kind of thing is why I love this site to death. Thanks so much!
posted by arcanecrowbar at 11:20 AM on August 26, 2008

@Loosefilter: Oh! Well then. I stand corrected. Too bad that class isn't online too!

It does seem pretty focused on the breakdown of tonality and the rise of serialism, which most American composers don't fit into, so it makes a certain amount of sense. For the record, I wasn't so much making a complaint, just pointing out what I thought was a curiosity. Either way, this is an awesome collection of stuff.
posted by speicus at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2008

@bodywithoutorgans: What is the point? Stravinsky sounds different than Stockhausen. So what? Why can't we have both? Why do tradition and experimentation have to be mutually exclusive? What's the problem if we feel like listening to some abrasive Xenakis and lush Copland back-to-back? What is lost?

(Hint: nothing is lost)
posted by speicus at 11:32 AM on August 26, 2008

Just digging into the first course and I love this guy's cantankerous attitude. Here's a little excerpt of an exchange with a student:

Q: Do you think you should totally . . . you should know tonality, before you go off, before you create what's inside you?

Well, see . . . I . . . this might reflect my own opinion of today's music, in some form, OK? See, I'm against neo-clacissism. . . I'm not against it, it's just worthless. You can't repeat the past. People who try to repeat the past, there's something gone wrong - no, it's an end of something. Obviously we're in a decadent period of the arts. Everybody's making things over again. That's a sure sign that no one has anything to say. And that goes on all the time, including rock music now. The Rolling Stones traveling, 59,000 people go to Cincinnati Stadium to see the Rolling Stones last weekend? 59,000 people? They made millions of dollars? What in the hell are the Rolling Stones saying that's so vital for young people? My god, they existed when things were . . different! Are they doing anything really different? What's going on? Films being made over, ah, going back to tonality and doing things with tonality . . .

Q: So you think its like beating your head against the wall.

A: (shouts) NO!!! Just people who don't know what to do, they have no imagination. AND, you are a servant of now. You can't . . be . . from a different era. . . you can't pretend that you're living one thousand years ago, or one thousand years from now. You are a NOW person, you have to confront what NOW is, and somehow transcend it! Don't let it control you, but you control it. So we are, so . . . Tonality is Dead! Done! Finished! Boring! Dull! Boom! And all the people that compose, who make fashion now? Boring as hell! Terribly boring. They have no vitality. No conflict. Dullards. My opinion, and I know people who actually play in . . I can name two people, I know people who play in these groups, these musicians, I know these musicians, I've worked with them. I've told them, they agree with me, but they still do it.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 1:29 PM on August 26, 2008

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