Carsten Schmidt

Künstlerische Abschlussprüfung “mit Auszeichnung,” Folkwang University, ​Germany. MM, Artist Diploma, Indiana University. MMA, DMA, Yale University. Extensive performance and broadcast activities as soloist, conductor, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestras throughout Europe, North America, and Japan; repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to the music of today, including more than 100 premieres and numerous master classes, lectures, and workshops at educational and research institutions. Special interests include: keyboard literature and performance practices, early keyboard instruments, and the interaction of poetry and music in song repertoire. Since 1998, artistic director, Staunton Music Festival; former artistic director, International Schubert Festival, Amsterdam; research fellow, Newberry Library; fellow, German National Scholarship Foundation. SLC, 1998–

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Music

Awareness Through Movement for Performing Artists

Open, Component—Spring

This course will offer a selection from the thousands of Awareness Through Movement™ lessons developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The lessons consist of verbal instructions for carefully-designed movement sequences. The movements allow students to better sense and feel themselves and thereby develop new and improved organizational patterns. The gentle movements are done in comfortable positions (lying, sitting, and standing); many performing artists have found the movements to be hugely helpful in developing greater ease, reducing unwanted tension and performance anxiety, and preventing injuries. Another benefit is the often increased capacity for learning and, perhaps most importantly, an increased enjoyment of performing and the creative process. The course will meet on Zoom, and the meeting time will be determined after students have registered. We will find a time that works for all.

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Four Masterpieces of Baroque Music

Component—Spring

This course will present an in-depth study of four exceptional and important musical works of the Baroque era: Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, Lully’s Armide, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and Handel’s Hercules. We will examine these works in the context of the biography of the composers, the history of their genres, and performance practices. Much of our time will be spent with score analysis. The course will meet on Zoom, and the meeting time will be determined after students have registered. We will find a time that works for all.

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Survey of Western Music

Component—None

This course is a chronological survey of Western music from the Middle Ages to the present. We will explore the cyclical nature of music that mirrors philosophical and theoretical ideas established in Ancient Greece and how that cycle most notably reappears every 300 years: the Ars nova of the 14th century, Le nuove musiche of the 17th century, and the New Music of the 20th century and beyond. The course involves reading, listening, and class discussions that focus on significant compositions of the Western musical tradition, the evolution of form, questions of aesthetics, and historical perspective. There will be occasional quizzes during the fall term; short written summary papers or class presentations are required in the spring.

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Words and Music

Component—Fall

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Words and Music

Open, Small Lecture—Fall

In this course, we will examine and try to understand the magic that happens when words and music combine in song. Song will be defined broadly. Most of our repertoire will be drawn from Western music history, and the range of compositions will be extraordinary: from the chants of Hildegard von Bingen to the often esoteric and intricate motets of the Ars Nova, from the late Renaissance madrigals to early and romantic opera, and from the art songs of Schubert and Debussy to experimental contemporary works. There may also be some in-class performances. Participants will be responsible for regular listening and reading assignments, listening exams, and group presentations. There will be no conferences, but we will have regular individual and group consultations to help prepare presentations and papers.

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Previous Courses

Music

Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Analysis

Component—None

This course will focus on the analysis of tonal music, with a particular emphasis on chromatic harmony. Our goal will be to quickly develop basic understanding and skill in this area and then refine them in the analysis of complete movements and works. Our repertoire will range from Bach to Brahms, and we will try to incorporate music that class participants might be studying in their lessons or ensembles.

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Awareness Through Movement™ for Musicians

Component—Spring

This course will offer a selection from the thousands of Awareness Through Movement lessons developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The lessons consist of verbal instructions for carefully designed movement sequences that allow the students to better sense and feel themselves and thereby develop new and improved organizational patterns. These gentle movements are done in comfortable positions (lying, sitting, and standing), and many instrumentalists and singers have found them to be hugely helpful in developing greater ease, reducing unwanted tension and performance anxiety, and preventing injuries. Another benefit is the often increased capacity for learning and, perhaps most importantly, an increased enjoyment of music making and the creative process.

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Baroque Ensemble

Component—Spring

This performance ensemble focuses on music from roughly 1600 to 1750 and is open to both instrumentalists and singers. Using modern instruments, we will explore the rich and diverse musical world of the Baroque. Regular coachings will be supported by sessions exploring a variety of performance practice issues, such as ornamentation, notational conventions, continuo playing, and editions.

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Evolution of a Performance

Component—Spring

This advanced seminar presents a unique resource designed to help students develop well-informed and inspired performances. The content of this course will be carefully tailored to participants’ interests, needs, abilities, and chosen repertoire. It will include a combination of the following: textual criticism and possible creation of a performance edition; consideration of performance practices, drawing on historical documents and recent scholarship; study of historical instruments; review of pertinent analytical techniques and writings; analytical, compositional, and ear-training assignments; readings that explore the cultural, artistic, and emotional worlds of the composers studied; in-class performances and coaching; and discussion of broader philosophical issues relating to authenticity in performance. This course is for accomplished and highly motivated performers who have a theory background commensurate with completion of at least the first semester of Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Composition. It is especially suitable for instrumentalists and singers who are preparing for a recital or performances of major chamber music works.

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First-Year Studies in Music

Open, FYS—Year

This course is designed for students with all levels of prior music experience, from beginning to advanced. Each student will be enrolled in a full music program that reflects Sarah Lawrence College’s educational philosophy of closely integrating theory and practice in the study of music. The music program (also called a Music Third) consists of a number of components: individual instruction in voice, an instrument, or composition; courses in history and/or theory; participation in an ensemble; and concert attendance. In addition, all students in this course will be members of a weekly seminar that provides a forum to explore a broad range of musical topics in both artistic and critical ways. Throughout the year, we will attend numerous performances on campus, as well as in New York City; for instance, at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We mostly will start with live musical experiences in order to generate our investigations. The seminar will also feature frequent in-class performances by guest artists, class members, and the instructor. The music that we study in class will range from the early 16th century to the early 21st. Our emphasis will be on Western classical music and will occasionally include jazz, non-Western, and popular music traditions, as well. In order to develop and improve their insights and their ability to share those insights with others, students will write regular response papers and give short presentations. In the spring, students will also undertake a larger research project.

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Intermediate and Advanced Aural Skills

Component—None

This course is dedicated to helping students develop their fluency with theoretical materials through dictation and sight-singing practice. Initially, we may focus on individual parameters such as pitches, rhythms, and harmonic progressions; but the ultimate goal of the course is to be able to perceive all of those in an integrated way.

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Johann Sebastian Bach

Component—None

Bach’s roots are deep, arguably reaching back to the Middle Ages. This course, which will offer a thorough introduction to his works and life, will consider some of those roots but also his influence on later generations. This seminar will trace the development of Bach’s musical language and discuss his extraordinary contributions to almost all the genres important in his time, including cantatas, concertos, suites, passions, orchestral music, and pedagogical keyboard works. Analysis of his music is at the core of this course and will be combined with discussion of readings that address topics of biography, theology, performance practice, and reception history. In-class performances will be a regular feature of this seminar. Reading knowledge of music is essential, and some background in music theory is highly recommended.

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Monteverdi to Monteverdi

Component—Spring

Claudio Monteverdi occupies a truly unique position in music history. His early works are masterful examples of the often serene and balanced style of late Renaissance vocal music. Yet, by the end of his long life, he had become a key player in developing and establishing the much more personal and often extravagant musical language of the early Baroque. Our course will follow this journey, as well as some of his other extraordinary transitions—such as from the secular and privileged world of the court of Mantua to directing musical worship at St. Mark’s in Venice and eventually returning to the secular sphere by being an engine of early commercial opera. We will also have an opportunity to examine important aspects of his artistic evolution by comparing the youthful innocence and immediacy of his L’Orfeo to the cynicism and wisdom of his late work, L’Incoronazione di Poppea. In addition, we will attend a number of performances of his music in New York City and invite some professional stage directors and singers to share their insights into the Italian master.

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Music and the Romantic Imagination

Open, 3-credit seminar—Fall

This course will examine a broad range of musical works from the 19th century, including symphonies by Beethoven, Berlioz, Tschaikovsky, and Mahler; song cycles by Schubert and Schumann; piano music by Mendelssohn, Wieck, Chopin, and Liszt; chamber music by Brahms and Franck; and operas by Verdi, Wagner, Bizet, and Mussorgski. Our primary focus will be on attentive and analytical listening. We will also draw on a variety of documents and secondary literature to try to understand the development of the major romantic genres and music traditions in the context of important societal and artistic forces of their time. We will include consideration of the changing image of the composer, music as autobiographical expression, nationalism, folklore and mythology, music for domestic performance, public concert life, virtuosity, and the role that literature and art had in providing inspiration to musical compositions. Course requirements include listening and reading assignments, class participation, in-class essay exams, and a presentation. Students who take this course as a seminar will also complete a term paper. While there will be no conferences, occasional individual consultations will help to shape the presentations and papers.

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Music From 1914-1945

Component—Spring

No previous period of music history saw such a plethora of musical styles and expressions as the first half of the 20th century. In this course, we will encounter many of the important compositional voices active between the two world wars. The range of styles of only some of the composers whom we will study is breathtaking. The high romanticism of Rachmaninoff, the grandeur of Richard Strauss, Bartók’s folk-infused idioms, Schoenberg’s 12-tone creations, Prokoviev’s at once classical and subversive works, Gershwin’s jazz-inspired inventions, Messiaen’s colorful and spiritual music, and Stravinsky’s many evolving musical languages are only part of what will encounter. The ability to read musical scores is essential for this course, and some background in music theory is, as well.

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Music of the Fin de Siècle

Component—Fall

The years 1880-1914 provided an exceptionally fertile ground for musical life in Europe. This course will explore some of the major composers of this period, and we will try to place their music in the larger context of artistic, philosophical, and political trends that informed their work. Among the composers whom we will study are Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, Debussy, Satie, Busoni, Puccini, Mussorgsky, Scriabin, and Janacek. The ability to read musical scores is essential for this course, and some background in music theory is as well.

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Orchestra Projects

Open, Seminar—None

In a rotation over two years, students will have the opportunity to experience and participate in a broad range of musical styles, from the Baroque to symphonic and contemporary repertory, including improvisation and experimental music. The Sarah Lawrence Orchestra is open to all students, as well as to members of the College and Westchester communities.

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Survey of Western Music

Component—None

This course is a chronological survey of Western music from the Middle Ages to the present. We will explore the cyclical nature of music that mirrors philosophical and theoretical ideas established in Ancient Greece and how that cycle most notably reappears every 300 years: the Ars nova of the 14th century, Le nuove musiche of the 17th century, and the New Music of the 20th century and beyond. The course involves reading, listening, and class discussions that focus on significant compositions of the Western musical tradition, the evolution of form, questions of aesthetics, and historical perspective. There will be occasional quizzes during the fall term; short written summary papers or class presentations are required in the spring.

Faculty