IAS Helmut & Anna Pao Sohmen Professor-at-Large
HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study
Composer-in-Residence Division of Humanities
Division of Humanities
Bright Sheng guides us through three works — by Brahms, Beethoven, and Sheng — for an intimate look inside the composer's mind. This course strives to give students a new appreciation of music, based on an understanding of the craft behind each work. This class is perfect for those wanting to gain a unique perspective on the creative process of music composition, while challenging traditional notions of how composers approach formal structure, melody, and harmony.
Week 1 focuses on the question “what is melody?”, and on the meticulous design of Brahms's Intermezzo, op. 118, no. 2. Week 2 concentrates on the fundamentals of harmony, and how Beethoven thought of harmony to generate his Symphony No. 7 in A Major, op. 92. Week 3 applies the same paradigm to a living composer, Bright Sheng himself, and reveals how he found inspiration in the works of these titans of music in his Four Movements for Piano Trio. While helpful, it is not expected students have a background in music to take the course.