Lifelong Learning New York City

Lifelong Learning at  Swarthmore: New York City

Note: Spring 2017 Course details are still being finalized.

Fall 2016:

Bach (LLS 111NY)

Meets Mondays, 6:45 - 9:15 p.m.
Oct. 3 – Nov. 21
Lowenstein Sandler LLP, 1251 Avenue of the Americas (@ 50th St.), 17th floor

This course explores the awe-inspiring designs of J. S. Bach’s instrumental music, especially the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Musical Offering, and the Well-Tempered Clavier. From there, the focus will shift to his secular and religious texted music, especially in several selected cantatas, the St. John Passion, and the Mass in B minor. A rudimentary ability to read music is assumed.

Major Topics:

  • reasons for Bach’s wide appeal (extraordinary responses to plague in an English village, 1665
  • the breadth of Bach’s endeavors: what exactly is a cantata, chorale, concerto, fugue, sonata, oratorio
  • how Bach’s music expresses ideas, including ones that are not necessarily the same as those projected by the verbal texts in his vocal works
  • Bach’s original social and religious contexts, and what if any demands these ought to make on appreciating his music today
  • how understanding Bach’s music can add to or subtract from its enjoyment

The Professor:

Michael Marissen is Daniel Underhill Professor Emeritus of Music at Swarthmore, where he taught from 1989 to 2014. He was also a visiting professor on the graduate faculties at Princeton and UPenn. His essays have appeared in venues ranging from the Harvard Theological Review to The Huffington Post and The New York Times. His most recent books are Tainted Glory in Handel’s Messiah (2014) and Bach & God (2016). He has also taught "Mozart" in LLS.

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