America Sings: From Cole Porter to Stephen Sondheim
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students
Course Number: NMUS 3560
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
This course explores the diverse world of American popular song. We look at Irving Berlin and his direct style of music and lyrics, aimed “to reach the heart of the average American”; George Gershwin and his “fascinating rhythms”; the sophistication of Cole Porter; Richard Rodgers who, along with Oscar Hammerstein, created enduring works such as South Pacific and The King and I that dealt with cultural clashes and bigotry; Leonard Bernstein, whose West Side Story addressed conflicts between teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds; Mary Rodgers, one of the few successful female Broadway song composers; and Stephen Sondheim, mentored by Hammerstein, who brought classical techniques into his musical style and has never been afraid to tackle serious issues in his musicals, such as the complexity of human relationships in his musical Company. Classes examine the lives of these composers, what made each one unique, and the changes in musical approach from Berlin, whose first international hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” dates to 1911, to Sondheim, who is still writing today. Background readings prepare students for classroom discussions of the music. Students do not need to know how to read music for this course.
Course Open to: Degree Students