Music Appreciation: Learn more about the music you love

The Royal Conservatory offers a diverse variety of Music Appreciation sessions with world class leading musical experts. Join our students and explore many musical genres in a fun and engaging environment. Select sessions include live performances and special ticket offers. For additional information and to register, click the links below or call (416) 408-2824 x363.

To receive email updates about special ticket offers, discounts on upcoming sessions, and free music appreciation events, join the Music Appreciation Email List. Contact us at music.appreciation@rcmusic.ca.

Music Appreciation Insiders

Join this community of music lovers. Membership includes invitations to special events, free gifts, and access to RCM's library collection of books and musical scores. Learn more

Upcoming Music Appreciation Events

Simply Brill Wide Open House: Music Appreciation Lectures

 

Sunday, June 25th, Free, no registration required.

3:15–3:45pm: Verdi Triumphant - Wayne Gooding

3:45–4:15pm: Forms and Formats in Music - Rick Phillips

4:15–4:45pm: The Music of Hollywood's Golden Age - Jordan Klapman

5:00–5:45pm: Beethoven and the Power of the Motif - Clayton Scott

All lectures are taking place on Sunday June 25th, in Temerty Theatre in the Royal Conservatory. Click here to learn more!


Fall 2017 Music Appreciation Sessions

Beethoven String QuartetsBeethoven: The String Quartets
4-week series
Instructors: Rick Phillips
Wednesdays, 1–3pm
September 13 - October 4
Fee: $235

The string quartets by Beethoven (1770-1827) encompass his most personal and intimate thoughts and ideas, his purist writing, clearly tracing his evolution as a master composer. The early period quartets show Beethoven’s grasp of the 18th century models of Haydn and Mozart, while establishing his own identity. In his middle period quartets, Beethoven expands the scope and range, providing music of more complexity and intensity. The late period quartets present a music of new spirituality and mysticism – otherworldly – as the composer strives for new methods of expression and creativity. It has often been said, that to only know the symphonies, concertos and sonatas by Beethoven is to have an incomplete picture of his musical genius.
More info or to register.


How Music Works: Part 1 How Music Works: Part 1
10-week series
Instructor: Jamie Stager
Fridays, 10–11:30am
September 15 – November 24
Fee: $375

If you've always wanted to understand how music "works," this practical session combining guided listening and active participation in basic musicianship exercises is for you. Explore the building blocks of music and how they create the magic of the music you love! Unlock the secrets of melody, rhythm, harmony, texture, form, genre, and more. Along the way, we'll cover topics such as basic staff notation, scales, intervals, time signatures, note and rest values, meters, chords, and cadences. Participants will emerge from this course with a deeper understanding of the music they experience.
More info or to register.


How Music Works: Part 2 How Music Works: Part 2
10-week series
Instructor: James Stager
Fridays, 12–1:30pm
September 15 – November 24
Fee: $375

A continuation of How Music Works, this series will explore a wide variety of musical genres spanning the centuries. The basic materials of music will be examined in a broad range of settings from symphonies to big band jazz, from opera to musical theatre, and from madrigal to popular song. This series will draw connections between these diverse genres by looking at works by an eclectic list of composers and groups from Monteverdi, Bach and Mozart to Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein and Radiohead.

More info or to register. 


How Jazz WorksHow Jazz Works
Instructor: Jamie Stager
Fridays, 2-3:30pm
September 15 – November 24
Fee: $375

Jazz is a vibrant, exciting and vital art form that represents some of the most creative music-making from the early twentieth century through to the present day. This ten-week series will present a broad overview of the development of jazz styles including New Orleans traditional jazz, swing and big band music, bebop, the modern mainstream, and the avant-garde. Sessions will also cover musical features including melody, harmony, rhythm, form and the art of improvisation. Join us for an engaging exploration of the world of jazz!
More info or to register.


Arabella Strauss' Women, their Families and their Lovers
6-week series
Instructor: Wayne Gooding
Wednesdays, 10am–12pm
September 20 – October 25, Fee: $310

Almost all of Richard Strauss’s 15 operas are named for their principal female characters or focus on their heroines. Although he certainly created some vivid male characters, the composer clearly had a special fondness for the female voice, showcasing it in an astonishingly wide range of dramatic situations running the gamut from horrific abuse to high romance. From Salome and Elektra through Arabella, the Marschallin and the Countess Madeleine, this 6-week series surveys the dramatic and musical challenges Strauss set for his leading ladies through the artistry of the great interpreters who have brought them to life on stage. Participants in this series will receive a ticket to the dress rehearsal of the Canadian Opera Company’s Canadian premiere of Strauss’s Arabella.
More info or to register.


The History of the Orchestra The History of the Orchestra
6-week series
Instructor: Colin Eatock
Thursdays, 1–3pm
September 21 – October 26
Fee: $295

The orchestra holds a prominent place in Western music. Beginning with Les 24 Violons du Roy at the court of Louis XIV moving to the baroque era, this series will examine Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà and Leipzig’s Collegium Musicum. In the Classical period, orchestras in Vienna and Mannheim will be studied to illustrate the development of symphonic form. In the Romantic era, orchestras in Leipzig and London will exemplify the development of the modern orchestral ensemble and canon. Finally, the proliferation of orchestras in the 20th century, and the further expansion of the repertoire, will be illustrated with orchestras in Paris, Boston and Toronto. Cultural, socio-economic and political forces shaping the orchestra throughout history will also be discussed.
More info or to register.


Eight Great ComposersEight Great Composers
8-week series
Instructor: Rick Phillips
Tuesdays, 10am–12pm
September 26–November 21
Fee: $475

Back by popular demand, this is another series of surveys of another eight composers. You’ll learn about their lives and loves, the influences on them, some of the social history of the time and how it affected them. You’ll discover some of the basic forms and structures of music, and of course, hear lots of great music, uncovering new insights into what to listen for and why this music has been loved by millions. Composers to be covered this time are Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Haydn, Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn, Brahms, Elgar, Sibelius and Ravel.
More info or to register.


TBDOperas and their Musical Contexts
8-week series
Instructor: Clayton Scott
Thursdays, 10am–12pm
September 28 – November 16
Fee: $475

While operas offer a rich feast of soaring music, they are also stories - about people, strong emotions and the human condition. In this series, four or five specific operas will be selected for study. One week will be a musical and dramatic presentation of an opera. The next week will be an exploration of other music – symphonic, piano or art song – written at the same time in history as the opera just presented. In all weeks, you will be immersed in the sound and meaning of what makes each work - opera or instrumental - “tick”. Operas may include those by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Bizet, Puccini and Strauss. The music of these operas will entice you to immerse yourself in the operatic listening experience! This series is suitable for opera neophytes and aficionados alike. Some sessions will include live performances from students of the Glenn Gould School.
More info or to register.


Jazz at KoernerJazz Meets Classical: Points of Convergence
6-week series
Instructor: Mark Micklethwaite
Wednesdays, 1–3pm
October 11 – November 15
Fee: $295

Although the genres of jazz and classical music can be said to possess distinctive characteristics, both look to each other for inspiration and inevitably exert a subtle yet undeniable influence on one another. In this series, we’ll look at the similarities and differences between these musical styles, while exploring the intersections that have spawned new musical treasures. We’ll look at classical composers who composed works inspired by jazz, and we’ll explore jazz icons like Duke Ellington, John Lewis, Gunther Schuller, all of whom interpreted classical music in interesting ways. We’ll listen to innovative contemporary artists such as Uri Caine, Wayne Shorter, and Patrick Zimmereli who combine the world of classical music and jazz improvisation to create new sounds and structures. Through listening, lecture and discussion, you'll come away with a greater understanding of the jazz and classical genres and how their points of convergence come together to create a broad range of beautiful music.
More info or to register.


Schubert Franz Schubert: The Early Romantic Spirit
6-week series
Instructor: Rick Phillips
Thursdays, 1–3pm
October 12 – November 16
Fee: $355

Although Franz Schubert (1797 -1828) lived a short life in Vienna of only 31 years, he left us a marvelous treasure chest of songs, piano music, chamber music and symphonies. With a natural gift for melody, Schubert brought a fresh, expressive and more emotional quality to his works, as the burgeoning 19th century Romantic trend in the arts developed into the full-fledged movement. Exhibiting innocence, passion, sorrow, joy and playfulness, the Viennese have long claimed that Schubert should be experienced with “one eye dry, the other wet.” Using classic recordings from the past and present, Rick Phillips will present an informative and enlightening series, opening eyes and ears to Schubert’s marvelous musical world.
More info or to register.


Get HappyGet Happy: The Music of Hollywood's Golden Age
4-week series
Instructor: Jordan Klapman
Wednesdays, 7–9pm
October 18 – November 8
Fee: $195

Join Jordan Klapman on a joyful musical journey exploring many of the most beloved popular songs and musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Age. We’ll enjoy many of the most uplifting movie songs and musical scenes ever created by America’s finest songwriters and directors-- performed by many of the biggest movie stars of the 20th century. From the early “all singing, all‐dancing” days of the first talkies, to the Oscar-winning magic of Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, Hello Dolly, West Side Story, Oklahoma, The Music Man, South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, and The Sound of Music-- this course will lift your spirits, get your toes tapping-- and have you humming and singing along!
More info or to register.


Navidad: A Spanish Christmas¡Hola España! The Music of Renaissance Spain
4-week series
Instructor: Alison Melville
Wednesdays, 10am–12pm
November 1–22
Fee: $195

In collaboration with The Toronto Consort, this series is an investigation of the vibrant and inventive music, composers and instruments of 16th- and 17th-century Spain, including some of the music which made its way across the Atlantic to the ‘New World.’ Over four weeks, the series will explore popular songs (villancicos) and evocative sacred works, energetic instrumental dance music, intradas, fantasias and more, in a format which combines listening, lecture, imagery and class discussion. Class registrants will also receive a free ticket to Navidad, the Toronto Consort’s December celebration of Spanish music for the festive season.
More info or to register.


Chorus! Chorus! Chorus!Chorus! Chorus! Chorus!
6-week series
Instructor: Kyra Millan
Tuesdays, 7–8:30pm
November 7 – December 12
Fee: $225

This is an Opera Chorus for the uninitiated, NO singing experience necessary! Come for an evening of singing training, a crash course in learning a famous opera excerpt, and finish the evening by singing it together. Each week with feature a different selection, with a fun, informative introduction to that particular opera.
More info or to register.


Haydn: The Neglected MasterF. J. Haydn: The Neglected Master
4-week series
Instructor: Rick Phillips
Fridays, 10am–12pm
November 10 – December 8, omitting November 24
Fee: $235.00

By the end of the 18th century, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was the most popular and influential composer in Europe. Mozart revered Haydn, claiming, “He alone has the secret of making me smile and touching me to the bottom of my soul,” and Beethoven dedicated his first three piano sonatas to Haydn. And yet today we tend to neglect the works of Haydn, viewing them as light and superficial, and preferring those by Mozart, Beethoven and other composers. Our loss! Known as “Papa” Haydn for his invaluable developments of the symphony, string quartet and sonata, on the surface, Haydn’s music contains infectious degrees of humour, warmth, tunefulness, liveliness, even mischief. And yet, underneath these traits are a depth, sublimity, and nobility often associated with other “greater” composers.
More info or to register.


Weimar CabaretWomen in Weimar
3-week series
Instructor: Adi Braun
Wednesdays, 1–3pm
November 22 – December 6
Fee: $150

Join cabarazz vocalist Adi Braun as she takes an in-depth look at the lives and artistry of key female cabaret performers of Weimar Berlin. This 3-week series explores the emergence of the Modern Woman in post-Wilhelmine German society. Beginning in 1919 when given the right to vote, women began to play key roles in theatres and cabarets as club owners, managers, and performers with a new emancipated identity and artistic style. Breaking away from convention and the interpretive edicts of classical music, women found their voices in daring new material that addressed the socio-political realities of the day and their emerging sexual freedom. Artists such as Margo Lion, Kate Kühl, Annemarie Hase, Claire Waldoff, and Blandine Ebinger put their signature stamp on the prostitute songs, murder ballads, and tales of everyday life in the music of Spoliansky, Hollaender, Eisler, and others. As the Nazis rose to power and World War II loomed, they risked their lives singing songs that eerily foreshadowed the horrors to come until the footlights went out forever in the cabarets of Berlin.
More info or to register.


Haydn: The NutcrackerThe Nutcracker Ballet
2-week series
Instructor: Rick Phillips & Michael Crabb
Thursdays, 1–3pm
December 7 & 14
Fee: $120

Eggnog, mistletoe, turkey with cranberry sauce, quality time with family and friends, favourite carols, Handel’s Messiah – these are just some of the wonders of the holiday season in Toronto. To that list must be added The Nutcracker ballet by Tchaikovsky, annually presented during the holidays by the National Ballet of Canada, and now a very popular event for Toronto children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. This series, with Rick Phillips and Toronto Star dance critic Michael Crabb, will uncover the history, music, choreography, wonders and lasting appeal of one of the most-loved ballets in the repertoire.
More info or to register.

 

Photo credits: Toronto Summer Music Festival: Natasha Bood; Beethoven String Quartets: Public Domain: How Music Works-Part 1: Public Domain; How Music Works- Part 2: Rachel Johnson; How Jazz Works: Public Domain; Strauss: Nicola Betts; The History of the Orchestra: Nicola Betts; Eight Great Composers: Public Domain; Operas and their Musical Contexts: Stuart Lowe; Jazz Meets Classical: Public Domain; Schubert: Public Domain; Get Happy - The Music of Hollywood's Golden Age: Ellgaard Holger; Hola Espana: Toronto Consort; Chorus! Chorus! Chorus!: Stuart Lowe; Women in Weimar: Public Domain; FJ Haydn- The Neglected Master: Public Domain; The Nutcracker: Gabriel Saldana