Western culture has produced a body of music unsurpassed in expressive force and beauty. Grounded in the science of Pythagoras, forged in early Christianity, and refined by Renaissance ideals, the music we label as “classical” emerged as a cultural force by the mid-seventeenth century. Visual art has a far longer history of cultural and spiritual significance, linking us directly to our Greek heritage.

Great art and music deserve to take their places alongside the great books. The desire to hear, make, and be uplifted by music is born within each of us, yet music receives scant attention in today’s systematic curricula. A child is born with a magnificent capacity to create and respond to visual art but learns all too soon that art is an elective, over which more “serious” studies take precedence.

It was not always so. Artists, composers, writers, scientists, and philosophers were always entwined. Accordingly, in examining the period primarily between 1600 and the end of World War II, we will consider parallel developments in visual art and music. The masterworks we select will reflect the influence of literature, philosophy, and aesthetics; general and specific history; and the new technologies of each era. No music or art background is needed for this course.