Come with me as we begin a musical journey I know you will enjoy on many levels. Starting Sept. 15, I will trace the history of Western music, beginning with Bach and moving through three centuries to composers of today.
By the last class, you will know how and why each composer fits into the great, musical Milky Way.
Why a music history class? Lots of reasons.
First, we will hear the greatest music by the greatest composers. Why begin with Bach? His noble and sublime music summed up so much of what came before.
Second, by devoting one class to one composer, we can dive deeply into the music and find out what makes it stand out, how it fits into its time and how it influences composers who follow.
Third, who were these guys? What were they like? How did they live? How did they compose? How did their first audiences respond?
Fourth, we will see how music develops over time. Why does Beethoven sound different from Brahms, who sounds different from Debussy?
Fifth, we will demystify terms, revealing what all the fuss is about orchestration, harmony, texture, form, phrasing and counterpoint.
Sixth, we will learn why this music keeps turning up in concert halls around the world. Why don’t we get bored with it? Why does it still move us?
Seventh, learning this stuff will make you a better listener and better listeners enjoy music more.
Eighth, it will bring some beauty to your life. Not some, a lot of beauty.
Ninth, we’ll have fun and you’ll get to meet some wonderful people who love music as much as you do.
This will be a fascinating, and, at times, surprising, journey, I promise.
3 p.m., Sept. 15: Johann Sebastian Bach — The river to which all other composers are tributaries.
3 p.m., Nov. 3: George Frideric Handel — He embraced the full range of human experience.
3 p.m., Jan. 5: Franz Joseph Haydn — No one possessed such cheerful optimism, delightful wit and superb craftsmanship.
3 p.m., Feb. 16: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Perhaps the most extraordinary musician in history.
3 p.m., March 29: Ludwig van Beethoven — Here comes the revolution.
3 p.m., April 26, 2020: Franz Schubert — If Beethoven grabs listeners in a half nelson, Schubert's music unfolds like a dream.
Each class is on a Sunday afternoon in the Recital Hall at Classic Pianos, 3003 SE Milwaukie, next to the Aladdin Theater, at the corner of Milwaukie and Powell Blvd. Cost per class: $20, at the door. No advance registration needed.
David Stabler is a teacher, writer, dad and cyclist. He's working on a novel based on his childhood years living in Africa and rode across America with his brother in 2017.