Centre for Continuing Education

Exploring Music Course: Choral Music

Music. Learn, enjoy, appreciate.

Appreciate and learn about music the smart way with Music courses at the University of Sydney.

From Handel’s Messiah to Orff’s Carmina Burana, choral music has always thrilled and inspired us. We use choirs for important occasions, for celebrations and mourning, and when we want to speak together with one voice.

This course provides a guide to understanding and enjoying Western choral music, with a look at its history and its most common forms, including the Mass, the Requiem, the oratorio and the cantata. For beginners and experienced listeners alike.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • list some of the main periods of choral music and briefly describe them
  • list some of the main choral music composers
  • list some major choral works and describe their place in the history of choral music.


Topics we will cover:

  • An introduction to choral music
  • Soprano, alto, tenor and bass
  • How the voice types work together in four-part harmony
  • Texture in choral music
  • Gregorian chant and the Medieval Modes
  • Choral music in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
  • Choral music in the Baroque Period
  • Choral music in the Classical and Romantic Periods
  • Choral music in the twentieth century
  • The Oratorio
  • Masses and Requiems
  • The Cantata

Music we will listen to:

  • Bach: Mass in B minor, Matthew Passion
  • Mozart: Requiem, Coronation Mass
  • Handel: Messiah,
  • Orff: Carmina Burana
  • Vivaldi: Gloria
  • Haydn: The Creation
  • The music of Palestrina
  • Beethoven: Choral Symphony, Ode to Joy
  • Brahms: The German Requiem
  • Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius
  • Mahler: Symphony of a Thousand
  • Walton: Belshazzar’s Feast
  • The choral music of Benjamin Britten
  • Faure: Requiem
  • Verdi: Requiem
  • Mendelssohn: Elijah

Intended Audience

This course is designed for fans of classical music, beginners and experienced listeners alike. No prior musical knowledge is required.

Delivery Style



Handouts will be provided in class.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion