Centre for Continuing Education

Music Course in Beethoven's Time Part VIII: Late Works (1822-1828)

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Through the first 39 lectures of this extended course, Beethoven’s life and music has been presented in a loosely chronological manner, with his achievements in each period forming the high points of a rich and complex musical tapestry created by weaving the music of other composers into the overall picture.

As we come to the eighth and final instalment of Music in Beethoven’s Time, our focus remains firmly on the now-celebrated Beethoven and the young and upcoming Schubert. We continue to take note of their musical colleagues in Vienna, while observing the passing parade of distinguished composers and performers who visit the city in the 1820s.

As Beethoven’s health continues to deteriorate, he completes several large-scale projects before embarking on a new Grand Symphony. He follows this with a final sequence of five string quartets which, although severely challenging audiences of the time, ultimately came to be seen as one of his greatest musical legacies. The much younger Schubert, already mortally ill, rapidly ascends to an equivalent musical stature with a magnificent final outpouring of inspired songs and chamber music.

Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna on 26 March 1827, aged 56. The following year on 19 November, Franz Schubert died, aged just 31.


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

  1. Recognise some of the features of Beethoven’s extraordinarily complex late musical style.
  2. Empathise with Beethoven’s heroic struggle against deafness and illness in his final years and the personal pressures of his fraught relationship with his nephew.
  3. Appreciate the contribution made by other well-known composers, especially Franz Schubert, to the musical life of Vienna in the 1820s.


  • Beethoven’s completion of the Missa Solemnis
  • Beethoven’s completion of the Diabelli Variations
  • Beethoven’s last piano sonatas
  • A Weber premiere for Vienna
  • Anton Schindler – Beethoven’s assistant and unreliable biographer
  • Composing a new Grand Symphony
  • Schubert’s Death and the Maiden string quartet
  • Beethoven and his nephew – the final chapter
  • Beethoven’s five late string quartets
  • Paganini’s triumph in Vienna
  • Schubert’s last works.

Intended Audience

This music course is suitable for those who have previously attended Music in Beethoven’s Time with Robert Gay, or those who have an interest in music and Beethoven. It is not essential for participants to have completed the previous Music in Beethoven’s Time courses prior to attending this course.

Delivery Style

This music course will be presented as a series of informal talks, illustrated by playing musical excerpts on CD.


Lecture notes, in the form of a continuous narrative which follows the course content closely, are handed out at each lecture. Recommended books will also be noted at appropriate points and details of recommended CDs are provided at all lectures.


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

What others say.

  • I have greatly enjoyed this course for the erudite and extremely entertaining presentation by its tutor, who is clearly across every aspect of the field. I look forward to continuing to attend these courses in the coming years.

  • We all flock to these lectures because we would never find a better teacher who imprints facts in our minds through making us love the music, with facts and humour, and of course the presenter’s wonderful singing voice and vast experience in all varieties of music.

  • This is one of the most outstanding tutors I have been fortunate enough to experience at Sydney University. The breadth of knowledge of the subject and the thorough preparation and effort put in to both inform and entertain are fantastic. I am looking forward to the next course. I hope CCE continues to run Music Education courses for many years to come at Sydney Uni!

  • A very entertaining and very knowledgeable tutor.