Centre for Continuing Education

Music in the German Lands Course: 1828-1843

Music. Learn, enjoy, appreciate.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.

This new course begins in the Austrian capital of Vienna, where we explore the astonishing array of masterpieces produced by Franz Schubert in the final year of his short life.

We then move on to Prussian Berlin and Saxon Leipzig, tracing the career of the gifted prodigy Felix Mendelssohn. In Leipzig, we also meet the talented young pianist Robert Schumann who slowly transforms himself into one of the most original of the new Romantic composers.

Finally, we relocate to Dresden, capital of the kingdom of Saxony, where newcomer Richard Wagner takes up the position of Kapellmeister to the Saxon court and produces his first operatic masterpiece The Flying Dutchman.


The aims of this course are to:

  • weave together the overlapping musical careers of two of the most outstanding young masters of the German Romantic style, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann
  • demonstrate the rapid decline of Vienna as the principal centre of excellence in the German musical world, while noting the corresponding rise of Leipzig, with its great orchestra and conservatorium, as the engine of musical innovation and progress
  • address the impact of the young Richard Wagner on the lacklustre German operatic scene of the time.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify some of the more prominent features of the new Romantic style of musical composition
  • describe some of the stylistic differences between the piano music of Mendelssohn and Schumann
  • identify some of the stylistic differences between Schubert and Schumann concerning their song repertoires
  • appreciate the influence of Mendelssohn as the pre-eminent orchestral conductor of the German school
  • explain the rapid demise (during this period) of Vienna as the leading musical city of the German world and the corresponding rise of Leipzig
  • appreciate the impact of Richard Wagner’s arrival on the German operatic scene.


This course includes the following topics:

  • Schubert’s final masterpieces, including three piano sonatas, the great string quintet and his song settings of poems by Heine.
  • Mendelssohn’s rediscovery and performance in Berlin of Bach’s forgotten St Matthew Passion and the subsequent influence of Bach on his own style.
  • Schumann’s discovery in Vienna of Schubert’s final symphony and its posthumous premiere in Leipzig under Mendelssohn.
  • Mendelssohn’s popular symphonies, including the ‘Scottish’, ‘Italian’ and ‘Reformation’ Symphonies, and Schumann’s ‘Spring’ Symphony.
  • Mendelssohn’s and Schumann’s neglected chamber music.
  • Mendelssohn and Louis Spohr as the first true orchestral conductors of the German school.
  • The great Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the annual Lower Rhine Music Festival.
  • Schumann’s ‘Song Year’ (1840) and his marriage to the virtuoso pianist Clara Wieck.
  • The foundation of the famous Leipzig Conservatorium of Music.
  • Wagner’s arrival in Dresden and the premieres of Rienzi and The Flying Dutchman.

Intended audience

This course would appeal to a wide variety of music lovers.



Delivery style

Presented as a series of informal, face-to-face lectures, illustrated with musical excerpts played on CD.


A weekly worksheet with a comprehensive synopsis of material being presented is provided.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

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