Sample Questions for Music History:

1. Define the goals of the Ars Nova as opposed to the Ars Antiqua.

2. What is the relationship between the Florentine Camerata and the the work of Monteverdi?

4. Symphonie Fantastique of Berlioz was written within three years of Beethoven's death. How are the innovative techniques in this piece different from those in the music of Beethoven?

5. Opera and dramatic works in general have driven the large trends in music since the 16th century: to what extent is this statement true today?

6. In what way does the music of C.P. E Bach repudiate the stylistic tenets of the Baroque?

7. Describe the use of Cantus Firmus technique in two non successive historical periods.

8. Discuss the relationship between sacred and secular music in two historical periods.

9. Is the Romantic period in music really one period? Defend your position using the work of two composers.

10. Discuss the use of non-chord tone in the Flemish Renaissance as opposed to the "High" Renaissance of Palestrina and Lassus.

Sample Questions in Analysis

Set I:

1. Compare the traditional concept of theme and variations (don't forget to use examples like Bach's Goldberg Variations‚ or Cabezon's Caballero Variations ) to the 20th century idea of continuous variations (choose your own examples).

2. Contrapuntal devices (like invertible cpt., retrograde, etc.) were developed in a tonal context. Choose a Baroque example and compare to non tonal uses (e.g. Schoenberg's Moses und Aron).

3. What part do concepts in orchestration play in musical structure?

4. Use the Op. 10 sonatas of Beethoven to describe the shift in tension in Sonata Form from its classical orientation. Compare with Movement I of Chopin's B Minor Sonata.

5. At what point in history do the terms symphony, concerto, and opera, lose their relevance?

6. Rite of Spring amd Wozzeck are considered to be landmark works. In what areas are their impact similar; what is decidedly different?

7. Develop and ongoing observation with regard to the temporal relationship of theory to practice from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

8. Develop a plausible explanation (with musical examples) for the cycles of aesthetic reconsideration of the past.

9. Relate R.G. Bury's Idea of Progress to developments in musical structure after WW I.

10. What would you consider to be the earliest avant-garde works: what are their traits?

Set II:

1. Using one example from each period, discuss the persistence of Sonata Form in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

2. Explore the concept of non chord tone in two late Beethoven chamber works.

3. Cite three examples where extramusical considerations shape or modify the musical structure.

4. Contrast the use of variation form in R. Strauss' Don Quixote and Cabezon's Caballero Variations. Relate both to the FInale of Brahms' Symphony No. 4.

5. Explain neoclassic elements in the work of two composers active within the period 1870-1970 who are not primarily thought of as neoclassicists.

6. Discuss the changing and non traditional role of contrapuntal devices in one late Mass of Haydn. Compare to his Op.20 String Quartet FInales.

7. Selectively analyze one work of one composer where theory influenced practice (e.g. revised Das Marienleben of Hindemith).

8. Outline the referential element (either historical or stylistic) in the musical structure of two works of different style periods (like Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 101 and Tippett's Third Symphony, Part III).

9. Is there such a thing as abstract musical structure? Use three musical examples to support your premise.

10. Throughout history, dramatic musical works, such as Monteverdi's Orfeo, Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, or Stravinsky's Rite of Spring have introduced innovative or avant-garde elements. Why should this be?

11. Discuss the work of one composer who also write on music and give the influences of these essays on the music itself.

12. Outline the use of invertible counterpoint in the nontonal context (e.g. Babbitt's Semi-Simple Variations or the Entr'acte of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron.

Set III:

1) Select a twentieth-century work which has a movement with sonata-form elements and discuss it.

2) Select a song by Schumann and compare structural devices dependent on text and those which are purely musical.

3) Do a complete analysis of the B minor Fugue of WTC I and compare the contrapuntal writing with that in the first movement of Beethoven's Op. 131.

4) Do a complete harmonic analysis of Wagner's Prelude to Tannhauser, Act I;, first two piano vocal score pages. Find an example of the same kind of tonal tensions in a work of Mahler.

5) Look for the reincorporation of Renaissance contrapuntal techniques in twentieth-century works (find two examples).

6) Analyze the Finale of Haydn's String Quartet Op.20. No.5. Compare the use of Baroque contrapuntal devices with Mozart's K. 387 Finale.

7) Discuss enharmonic tonality in Chopin's Scherzo Op. 31.

8) Compare the first and last movements of Schumann's Piano Quintet;. How does he accomplish the reintroduction of the opening of the piece into the Finale? Find a similar cyclical device in the String Quartet Op. 67 of Brahms and compare.

9) Do a complete harmonic and registral analysis of the slow introduction of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 (Movement I).

10) Discuss Morgan, by Richard Strauss as it fits into the lieder tradition (you must explain the harmony and text).

Updated: December 1, 1996.