Lecture Series

The In-Betweeners

Music from the Big Bands to Rock and Roll
(music of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, 8 sessions)

  • How music evolved from the decline of the Big Bands to Elvis, Buddy Holly and Eddie Valenz.
  • A look at The origins or swing/jazz big band music from ragtime and gospel and its decline.
  • The rise of R&B and Bebop.
  • Latin music and the importance of Latin Rhythm to all of American Pop.
  • DooWop and the acapella groups.
  • Country music – Hank Williams and the early country greats – their roots and influence.
  • Folk music of the 40s and 50s – Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, The Searchers and others.
  • Mitch Miller and producers of the early 1950s.
  • The great male & female pop stars of the 1950s, and why they disappeared when Elvis came around – Eddie Fisher, Joni James.
  • The rise of Rock & Roll – Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Elvis and others.

Rodgers and Hart vs Rodgers and Hammerstein

(4 Sessions)

  • The lives of these three great lyricists/composers
  • Their differing styles of writing
  • Their work, successes and legacies
  • Includes live performance and multi-media lecture

The history of Art Song/tradition of classical song in the Romantic and Post-Romantic periods

(8 Sessions)

  • A look at the composers, the music and the special performance requirements demanded
  • Each week will be dedicated to songs of a specific country or language:
    • German - Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Wolf, Weill and Strauss
    • Robert Schumann - Dichterliebe and Liderkreis
    • French - Berlioz, Massenet, Faure, Duparc, Debussy, Ravel and Poulenc
    • Spanish - Sor, Valverde, de Falla, Granados and Rodrigo
    • Italian - Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Tosti, Leoncavallo, Respighi, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco
    • Eastern European/Russian - Dvorak, Liszt, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev
    • English - Delius, Vaughn Williams, Quilter, Britten and Finzi
    • American - Copland, Beach, Barber, Niles, Ives and Rorem
  • Each weekly program includes live performance plus lecture information

Three of the most famous unknown songwriters in American History

(3 Sessions)

  • The lives and music of Harry Warren, Chester Babcock, and Dmitri Tiomkin.
  • These songwriters have more hits, more Oscars and more awards than anyone else in history, yet their names are not very well known.

American Operetta – the road to Show Boat

(Minimum 4 Sessions)

  • How American Operetta rose from European origins.
  • The music of Victor Herbert, George M Cohan, Sigmund Romberg and Rudolf Friml and the popularity of the waltz.
  • The rise of ragtime from Minstrel Shows, and how jazz found its way into American culture.
  • Florenz Ziegfeld, the Folies Bergere and the Ziegfeld Girls.
  • Why Jerome Kern and Gershwin were so important in bringing jazz to the American mainstream and why Show Boat is so pivotal to American Musical Theater history.

The History and Evolution of Rap

1-3 sessions

  • Development of Rap from Hip Hop
  • What is Rap/Hip Hop
  • The elements of Hip Hop
    • MCing
    • Breakdancing
    • Graffiti
    • Rap

Music and Technology

6-8 sessions

  • How technology, culture and politics have affected music throughout history.
  • The evolution of instruments (water-pipe organ, piano, saxophone, oboe etc.)
  • The evolution of musical style as affected by new developments in technology.
  • How war influences music and technology.

The Wonderful Music of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald

1-2 sessions

  • A look at the lives and careers of the famous duo.
  • Their music presented in recordings and live performance.

The Real Lili Marlene

1 session

  • How the famous song came about during WWI as a German song.
  • Why the song changed from a favorite of the Germans in WWII to the "call to soldiers" of the American, British, Russian, and French armies, inspiring them as they defeated the Germans.

Gilbert and Sullivan and The Marx Brothers

4 sessions

  • The lives, partnership and shows of William Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan, and Richard D’Oyley Carte.
  • The influence of Gilbert and Sullivan on Broadway and the Movies.
  • The Marx Brothers, Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Harburg, Harnick and others (Gilbert Sullivan in the Wizard of Oz, Finnian’s Rainbow and other examples.)

The Masters to Gershwin

Why Gershwin is so Important (8 sessions)

Music History from 1820 to Gershwin, focusing on:

  • The French from Berlioz to Ravel
  • The Germans from Beethoven to Strauss
  • The Russians from Glinka to Rachmaninoff
  • How Gershwin incorporated the music of the great composers with American influences of Latin and Jazz music to create a new American musical legacy.
  • Why Gershwin may be one of the 3 or 4 most important composers of the 20th century.

Stephen Sondheim

Sitting on the shoulders of Oscar Hammerstein (2 sessions)

  • A look at the relationship between Steven Sondheim and Oscar Hammerstein
  • Musical examples of Sondheim’s music, especially pieces related to the topic

Quincy Jones

His life and music (1 Session)

  • The life and music of Quincy Jones, who might be the most important music producer since 1950.
  • History of his jazz development, life in Europe and return to America and his relationships with Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and the movies.

The Life and Music of Tony Bennett

1 session

  • The great story of Tony Bennett’s life
  • History of his jazz development, life in Europe and return to America and his relationships with Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and the movies.

The Life and Music of Nat King Cole

1 session

  • Nat King Cole history – Capitol Records and "The House That Nat Built"
  • Live and multi-media musical samples

Eddie Fisher and Joni James

King & Queen of the 1950s (1 session)

  • The lives of the two most successful singers of the 1950s – over 100 million records sold – EACH!
  • Musical samples with multi-media presentation

Leonard Bernstein

A Life in Music (minimum 4 sessions)

An overview of Bernstein’s life, music and legacy

  • His life story
  • Bernstein as musician, teacher and conductor
  • Bernstein – Musical Theater and Opera
  • Bernstein – The Classical Works

The Musical Comedians

3 Sessions

  • The role of parody and comedy in music
  • Famous comics of music – Allan Sherman, Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen, Tom Lehrer, Spike Jones, PDQ Bach, Weird Al Yankovic and many more
  • Why we love them

The Traditions of Jewish Music

Minimum 4 Sessions

A look at the musical traditions in Jewish music from ancient times to the present.

  • The role and history of music in Jewish liturgical culture.
  • The influence of Jewish music on other cultures and vice-versa.
  • The cantorial role and traditions
  • Jewish secular music
    • The Ashkenazy, Sephardic, and Mizrahi cultures, and their music.


Minimum 4 sessions

  • The music of Disney from Snow White to the present.
  • The songwriters and the famous performers.
  • The Oscar winning music and the music that has become classic in our lifetime.
  • The inspiration of the Disney ideas to others; the popularity and growth of animated musicals.