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Develop deep knowledge

XSeries Program in
Classical Works
HarvardX

What you will learn

  • Gain an appreciation and understanding for the typical characteristics of Italian opera, classical music, and performance art—including instruments used and types of singing.
  • Understand the revolutionary relationships created between music, drama, and storytelling in opera.
  • Build on your learning and explore how performances have changed over time.
  • Compare the social and cultural influences of each work.
  • Learn the technologies and innovations behind opera performances, choir, instruments, and stage structure.
  • Follow the composition, legacy, and significance through time and the relevance today.

Take an aural journey through 17th- to 20th-century Europe—exploring world-renowned works in classical, orchestral, and operatic music to create a cultural and social context for each performance’s circumstances.

You’ll begin your tour 1607, Matua, Italy for Claudio Monteverdi’s L ‘Orfeo—long regarded as one of the first and most important examples of opera. You will also focus on Monteverdi's life and work as a Renaissance court musician.

Travel into the 18th century for German composer George Frederic Handel’s Messiah, premiering in Dublin in April 1742. Popular during the Baroque era, Handel gained popularity for his oratorios and unique operatic techniques. Next up, take a trek east to Vienna for Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, with its famous choral finale changing our views of orchestral music forever.

One last train ride brings you to the City of Lights, for the Paris premiere of Hector Berlioz’s five-movement symphony, Symphonie Fantastique, before capping off your journey in 1913 for Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring ballet premiere in Paris—one of the most challenging and rewarding ballets ever written.

By examining these works, both uniquely and collectively, Thomas Forrest Kelley, Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard will guide you through an explanation of the arts, from key features of classical works and Baroque opera to character development on stage and through music to techniques in orchestral music and choreography. Each course is designed to give you a closer look at each work of art from the cultural context and performance circumstances at the time of premiere—combining passions in art, music, society, and history.

Expert instruction
5 high-quality courses
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
4 months
3 - 5 hours per week
Discounted price: $247.50
Pre-discounted price: $495USD
For the full program experience

Courses in this program

  1. HarvardX's Classical Works XSeries Program

  2. 3–5 hours per week, for 3 weeks

    Learn about Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, one of the first operas ever written.

  3. 3–5 hours per week, for 3 weeks

    Discover Handel's Messiah in this installment of First Nights, which will explore five masterpieces of western music.

  4. 3–5 hours per week, for 3 weeks

    Learn about Beethoven’s monumental 9th Symphony and forms of orchestral music.

  5. 3–5 hours per week, for 3 weeks

    Learn about Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique , an iconic Romantic symphony that ushered in an era of narrative "program music."

  6. 3–5 hours per week, for 3 weeks

    Learn the fascinating history of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, one of the most challenging and rewarding ballets ever written.

Meet your instructor

from Harvard University (HarvardX)
Thomas Forrest Kelly
Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music
Harvard University

Experts from HarvardX committed to teaching online learning

Enrolling Now

Discounted price: $247.50
Pre-discounted price: $495USD
5 courses in 4 months
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