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Lecture Catalogue


CPM offers lectures at many venues throughout Southwest Florida as well as online lecture presentations. See the lecture catalogue below for current offerings. And don't forget to check out our latest excursions to the Sarasota Opera House and the the first ever Center for Public Musicology's Italy Summer 2024 excursion! 

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All instruction and/or lectures are 60 minutes
Call the CPM at 806.474.7447 for booking/pricing


Woody Guthrie

 "The Dust Bowl Troubadour": The Songs of Woody Guthrie

The American-songwriter Woody Guthrie was arguably one of the most significant figures in American folk music. Although primarily known for "This Land is Your Land," Guthrie also composed numerous songs concerning American socialism, anti-facism, eventually earning one of his albums (Dust Bowl Ballades) listed among the "100 Albums that Changed the World." Come join Dr. Tom Cimarusti (FGCU Professor of Music History) as we explore the life and the music of this American icon -- "The Dust Bowl Troubadour." You'll want to bring your singing hats to this one!

Musical Animals

"A Musical Swan": Camille Saint-Saens and the Carnival of Animals

Join Dr. Tom Cimarusti as he takes you on a musical journey of the French composer Camille Saint-Saens and his whimsical zoological fantasy, Carnival of the Animals. Arguably the composer's most famous work, the Carnival of the Animals was enthusiastically received at its 1922 premiere, evidenced by a review of one critic that declared "When he [Saint-Saens] likes to joke, the master never forgets that he is the master!" Come learn how a composer can recreate the sounds of a donkey, a lion, and an elephant. A musical swan may even make a special appearance! 


Popular and Folk Music

The Beatles: A Global Sensation

The year - 1962. Four teenage boys from Liverpool. And the rest is history. Yet who could have imagined that a band from a relatively poor northwest port city of England would export their homegrown success to a world eagerly opening up to burgeoning phenomenon known as rock n' roll. Come explore the sensation of the Beatles as Dr. Tom Cimarusti, Professor of Music History at Florida Gulf Coast University, takes you on a musical journey from the band's formation to their rise to superstardom. And who knows? . . . Paul McCartney may pay us a surprise visit!

Woodie Guthrie

 "The Dust Bowl Troubadour": The Songs of Woodie Guthrie

The American-songwriter Woodie Guthrie was arguably one of the most significant figures in American folk music. Although primarily known for "This Land is Your Land," Guthrie also composed numerous songs concerning American socialism, anti-facism, eventually earning one of his albums (Dust Bowl Ballades) listed among the "100 Albums that Changed the World." Come join Dr. Tom Cimarusti (FGCU Professor of Music History) as we explore the life and the music of this American icon -- "The Dust Bowl Troubadour." You'll want to bring your singing hats to this one!

Stephen Foster

America's Schubert: The Songs of Stephen Foster

"Camptown Races," "Oh, Susanna," and "Swannee River" -- all classics of American song and all composed by a young man from Pennsylvania, Stephen Foster, who eventual earned the nickname, the Father of American Music. Join Dr. Tom Cimarusti, Professor of Music History at Florida Gulf Coast University, as we explore the life and songs of one of the most famous songwriters in American history. Oh, and be sure to bring your singing voice as we join together in singing some of Foster's greatest hits.

Cole Porter

 A Most Luxuriant Songster: The Life and Music of Cole Porter

Although not as prolific as his contemporary Irving Berlin, Cole Porter remains as one of the most iconic songwriters in American musical history. Come explore the luxuriant life and music of Cole Porter as Dr. Cimarusti's introduces the composer's rise to fame, his musical style, and the debilitating accident that facilitated the end of his career. 

Classical Composers


Johann Sebastian Bach

A Musical Einstein: J.S Bach and the Art of Counterpoint

J.S. Bach's musical style often incorporated one of the most intellectually demanding compositional processes  counterpoint. Simply defined as note-against-note, this style of writing dominated much of the Baroque period and often featured the composer's prowess in writing overlapping melodies – much like the well-known piece "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat." This course will investigate Bach's genius in writing polyphonic works and will offer participants an introduction to the composer and his most famed collection of keyboard works, the Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC). Students are encouraged (but not required) to listen to the following in preparation for class: Bach, Prelude and Fugue in C minor (Book I of the WTC). The work can easily be found on YOUTUBE.

Johann Sebastian Bach

The Masterpiece of All Masterpieces:  the Mass in B minor by J.S. Bach

A number of composers from the Baroque period through the twentieth century have written works that audiences and scholars alike refer to as "masterpieces."  This course will focus on J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor, a work which is often regarded as the culmination of Western Art Music - i.e., the masterpiece of all masterpieces. The course will introduce the life of J.S. Bach and examine  the ideologies that defined his respective musical period and in turn shaped his compositional style. Our discussion will conclude with defining the term "masterpiece" and the Mass in B minor Mass is considered as such. Students are encouraged (but not required) to listen the following excerpts which can easily be found on YOUTUBE: "Kyrie" and "Crucifixus" from the Bach Mass in B Minor. 

Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach Bash: Celebrating the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach 

Bach remains one of the most important musical figures in all of music history. From the ensemble pieces to the sacred cantatas to his solo instrumental works, Bach's musical style still resonates with contemporary audiences. What is it about his music that is so transcendent and timeless? Come join Dr. Tom Cimarusti and guest musicians as we commemorate the music of J.S. Bach. Live performances of select works by Bach along with Dr. Cimarusti's commentary will provide attendees a better understanding of the composer's complex yet inspirational musical language. 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven: The Music, The Man, The Myth

For many the music of Ludwig van Beethoven represents some of the finest and most sublime music in the Western tradition. What was it about Beethoven's music that is "great" and that set it apart from his contemporaries? This lecture series will cover several of the composer's most important works, and ones that helped redefine musical genres. We will begin with an examination of the intimate solo piano works ("Moonlight Sonata") and the quartets (Quartet in C#-minor). We will conclude our discussion with the monumental Symphony No. 9. Our focus will be how Beethoven challenged musical conventions and consequently forged a new path in music – one that would greatly impact composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Ludwig van Beethoven

The Piano as Orchestra: Beethoven at the Keyboard

Over the course of his career, famed composer Ludwig van Beethoven completed 32 works for solo piano, many of which are now considered masterpieces in the genre. Known as sonatas, these pieces not only demonstrate Beethoven’s most creative innovations in the piano literature, but they also influenced future composers in the writing for the instrument. This course will introduce three of Beethoven’s sonatas, highlighting Beethoven’s musical style while simultaneously introducing participants to Beethoven’s piano works and basic terminology in discussing them. Students are encouraged, but not required, to listen to the following Beethoven piano sonata in preparation for the course: “Pathetique Sonata” (the work is easily accessible on YouTube).

Ludwig van Beethoven

From Flop to Fame: Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major

Some regard Beethoven's Violin Concerto one of the finest works in the concerto repertoire. However, after its premiere in 1806, the Violin Concerto received only one additional documented performance during Beethoven's lifetime. What was it about the concerto that took it such a long time to win friends before it became a staple on concert programs? And why did Beethoven compose only one such concerto for violin? Participants are encouraged (but not required) to listen to the work in preparation for the course (the work is easily accessible on YOUTUBE).


Ludwig van Beethoven

Musical Storytelling: Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in Efl (“Eroica”)

Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in Efl was not well received at its 1805 Viennese premiere. Critics argued that the work was too long, not well rehearsed, and loud. Beethoven himself, discontent with his works thus far, declared that he would "take a new path" with this work. What did Beethoven mean by this? How did this work become one of the most influential works in the symphonic tradition? Come learn how this work presents a narrative of Beethoven's troubled life and how it forever changed the history of the western symphonic tradition.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Masterpieces in Western Music: Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor

Often regarded as one of the greatest achievements in western music, the Symphony No. 9 demonstrates Beethoven's unprecedented craftsmanship and artistry in music composition. In addition, the historical context of the work is fascinating: what was Beethoven doing conducting the work at its premiere when he was already deaf? Although 19th-century audiences enthusiastically applauded the work, why did performers often complain about it? This course will examine the historical context of the work and provide a brief overview of the symphony's musical structure, paying close attention to the Beethoven's setting of the famous text "Ode to Joy." Come see how ingeniously Beethoven integrates music and the idea of universal brotherhood in a work that is often described as "sublime and transcendent."

Hector Berlioz

A Love Gone Wrong: Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique

Arguably one of the most bizarre and influential works in mid-19th century France was Berlioz's epic symphony entitled Symphonie fantastique, a work that tells the story of an obsessive lover's self-destructive passion for a beautiful woman. The symphony describes the composer's obsession and dreams, tantrums and moments of tenderness, and visions of suicide and murder, ecstasy and despair. Come explore what Bernstein called "the first musical expedition into psychedelia" as Dr. Cimarusti details how Berlioz musically captures the sounds of obsessive love, guillotines, and witches.

George Gershwin

 "And the Living is Easy": The Life and Music of George Gershwin

Along with Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, George Gershwin remains as one of the most

celebrated American composers. Although his most famous compositions were written for piano and/or orchestra  (e.g. Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris), Gershwin wrote numerous musicals and songs. Come celebrate the life and music of George Gershwin as Dr. Cimarusti presents a lecture-recital exploring Gershwin's unique musical language, his collaboration with his brother/lyricist, Ira, and a live performance of select songs including "Summertime" and "I Got Rhythm."  

Franz Liszt

A 19th-Century Rockstar: The Life and Music of Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt is often considered not only the quintessential figure of 19th-century musical Romanticism, but also the greatest piano virtuosos to have ever graced the stage. No doubt his life was a biographer's dream, complete with visionary ideas of Music of the Future, pianistic powers beyond belief, and a compulsion to be different. Come explore the life and music of classical music's first rockstar as Dr. Tom Cimarusti examines select works that evidently ignited such a musical frenzy that writers coined the term, Lisztomania!

Franz Schubert

Europe's Songster: The Life and Music of Franz Schubert

Next to Beethoven, Schubert remains as one of the most significant figures in early Romantic music as evidenced by his prolific output of over 600 lieder (songs). His music has not only facilitated what scholars now call "the new musicology," but it also demonstrates a conflation of Classical and Romantic ideologies. Come celebrate one of Austria's musical prodigies as Dr. Tom Cimarusti explores the life and music of Franz Schubert along with select performances of the composer's works. Come see why Schubert is often regarded as Beethoven's heir and arguably one of the greatest composer in the Western Art Music tradition.

Stephen Sondheim

"The Bard of Broadway": Sondheim and the Reinvention of Musical Theater

Considered one of the most important figures in 20th-century musical theater, Stephen Sondheim is often credited for reaching far beyond the genre's traditional themes -- from the dark tale of Sweeney Todd to the romantic charade of A Little Night Music to the fairytale-like Into the Woods. Come explore the musical and lyrical world of the "Bard of Broadway" as Dr. Cimarusti examines how Sondheim's more sophisticated style earned him numerous accolades, including 8 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. Bring your singing hats too for a brief Sondheim song-a-long of "Being  Alive" and "Send in the Clowns."

Igor Stravinsky

Musical Riots: Stravinsky's Rite of Spring

The 1913 premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring provoked one of the most famous musical riots in all of music history. His daring musical language coupled with Nijinsky's innovative choreography resulted in reviews that claimed the work was nothing more than "laborious and barbaric." Come enjoy one of 20th-century's musical treasures as Dr. Cimarusti details Stravinsky's musical language while allowing Stravinsky himself to explain via recorded video interviews his reaction to one of the most famous musical riots in music history. Participants are encouraged to listen to "Dance of the Adolescents" (easily found on YOUTUBE).

Antonio Vivaldi

A Red-Haired Priest and Pauper?: Vivaldi'sThe Four Seasons

One of the most often performed and beloved pieces of the Baroque period is The Four Seasons by the Venetian-born composer Antonio Vivaldi. Affiliated with a children's orphanage in Venice for much of his life, Vivaldi would compose some 500 violin concertos, many of which (like The Four Seasons) were influential to later composers including J.S. Bach. What is it about these works that brought him such fame? And how does Vivaldi musically capture each of the seasons?  Was he really a Priest and a Pauper? Come join Dr. Tom Cimarusti as we discuss Vivaldi's Four Seasons -- arguably the most important collection of instrumental music of the early18th century. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to listen to The Four Seasons in preparation for the discussion. 

Musical America


The Unknown American Composer

Anthony WHO?: The Beethoven of America

Following the economic, social, and political struggles in the late 18th century, the newly-established United States sought to develop a musical tradition much like that of its European counterpart. Although an American musical voice would not be firmly established until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were a number of composers who had an enormous influence on musical life in America, including a Bohemian-born businessman who came to be known as the “Beethoven of America.” Come explore the early history of American concert life as we examine not only the music and life of “America’s Beethoven,” but also the cultural forces that shaped an American musical identity.

Music in Florida

 Oranges, Sunsets, and Rivers: Delius's Florida Suite

Although many composers often had professions outside of music, the English-born Frederick Delius is arguably the only one who could lay claim to managing an orange plantation in Jacksonville, Florida. Delius's brief stay in Florida provided ample opportunity to not only study music, but also to study nature, an aspect most evident in his orchestral work, The Florida Suite of 1887. Come explore how the sultry heat, tropical beauty, and vibrant colors and smells of Jacksonville inspired Delius in creating one of the most popular and endearing musical settings of Florida.

Creating an American Sound (I)

The Father of American Music: Charles Ives (1874-1954)

The American modernist composer Charles Ives was one of the first American composers of international renown. Known as the "Father of American Music," Ives sought to create a musical style that was quintessentially American. Although his experimental and often idiosyncratic musical style was largely ignored during his lifetime, his significance as one of the founders of an "American Music" is now indisputable. Come explore the music of Charles Ives as we examine one of his most fascinating works, Three Places in New EnglandStudents are encouraged (but not required) to listen to the work which can easily be found on YOUTUBE. 

Creating an American Sound (II)

The Dean of American Music: Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Arguably the most important American composer after Charles Ives was the Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland, the "Dean of American Composers." Many of his nearly 100 works remain a part of the American repertoire, and clearly illustrate a distinctive musical voice that became not only popular and accessible to audiences, but one that is also undeniably "American." Come explore how Copland captured the beauty of Appalachia as we enjoy one of Copland's masterpieces, Appalachian Spring. Students are encouraged (but not required) to listen to the work which can easily be found on YOUTUBE. 

Music and Art Series

Musical Paintbrushes

The "Isms" of Music and Art

Throughout music history, music and art have been often intertwined in ways that have created some of the greatest masterpieces in Western Music. How have composers used art as inspiration? And how did such composers transform musical language in order to musically replicate artistic styles? This series examines the works of artists/composers associated with various artistic movements or "isms." Class lectures/discussions will focus on how composers constructed new musical means in order to musically paint a particular artistic style. For each of the following sections, students are encouraged (but not required) to listen and examine a work of art and to listen to a representative musical example.


Impressionism: Claude Monet (Sunrise) and Claude Debussy (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun)

 Pointillism: Georges Seurat (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Le Grande) and Anton Webern (Symphony No. 21)

Post-Impressionism: Vincent van Gogh (Starry Night) and Francis Poulenc (Gloria)

 Primitivism: Paul Gauguin (The Young Ladies of Avignon) and Igor Stravinsky (The Rite of Spring)

Expressionism: Edvard Munch (The Scream) and Arnold Schoenberg (Pierrot lunaire)

 Minimalism: Piet Mondrian (Hyena Stomp) and John Adams (Short Ride in a Fast Machine)

Surrealism: Salvador Dali (The Persistence of Time) and Erik Satie (Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear)

Music and War


World War I

Over There!: Music and the First World War

Throughout World War I, music became a prominent feature on the home fronts and the battlefields: propaganda songs, protest songs, and dance songs saturated mainstream American and European cultures. Popular songs such as "It's a long, long way to Tipperary," "I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier," and "Over there" reflected differing (and often conflicting) sentiments at home and abroad. In addition, in the realm of classical music, the First World War would eventually lead composers to fundamentally challenge the very definition of music. 

The Holocaust

Music, the Holocaust, and the Will to Survive

In commemorating the 75th year since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, this presentation will feature music during the Holocaust, focusing not only on how music helped prisoners cope with and escape reality, but also how the Nazis used music as a form of propaganda. Video of Holocaust survivors, musical performances in the concentration camps, and and select ghetto songs will be used to reinforce ideas and concepts.

The Holocaust 

From Despair to Hope: The Music of Schindler's List

John Williams's 1993 award-winning musical score for Steven Spielberg's epic Holocaust film Schindler's List remains one of the most recognizable contemporary works in American popular culture. Join Dr. Tom Cimarusti as he explores Williams's music, focusing on how the composer's music enhances the moving image and the film's narrative as well as how specific compositional techniques reinforce theme of sadness, hope, and Jewish identity. You may need to bring a tissue for this heart-wrenching yet inspiring musical score! Select works will be performed live as part of the lecture. Participants are strongly encouraged (but not required) to watch the film before the lecture.



Opera Origins

Claudio Monteverdi to the Rescue: The Origins of Opera

Although most scholars agree that the birth of opera took place around 1600, the genre had earlier predecessors in antiquity and the middle ages. The lecture will explore the earliest forms of staged music concluding with the "birthdate" of opera and the first operatic masterpiece, Monteverdi's Orfeo. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to listen to "Tu sei morta" from Monteverdi's Orfeo (easily found on YOUTUBE).

German Opera

What's all the Screamin' About?: Introduction to Wagner 

Like Beethoven, Richard Wagner is often considered to be one of the most influential – and controversial – composers in Western music. Even Rossini had claimed “Wagner had some good moments, but some horrible quarters of an hour.” What was this new art form that Wagner distinctly referred to as “the music of the future?” Come explore the fascinating world of Wagnerian opera! Participants are encouraged (but not required) to listen to "Wotan's Farewell" from Die Walkure (easily found on YOUTBE).


Italian Opera

From Figaro to Mimi: Surveying the Italian Classics

Following the birth of opera in 17th-century Florence, Italy witnessed an unparalleled obsession with musical drama for the next three hundred years. Composers such as Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Giacomo Puccini mastered the genre with works such as The Barber of Seville, Norma, La Traviata, and Madame Butterfly, respectively. This course will trace the evolution of Italian opera from its beginnings in Florence through the 19th century, highlighting specific excerpts that represent the masterpieces of the Italian opera tradition. Sessions will consist of lecture, power point presentations, and listening/video examples. The instructor will encourage class discussion and engage attendees with various listening activities. 


Giuseppe Verdi

Masterpieces in Opera: Verdi’s Rigoletto

Despite a series of attempts by Austrian censors, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto finally premiered in 1851 to such a wildly enthusiastic audience in Italy that it clearly put to rest any remaining doubt regarding the composer’s operatic primacy. The twisted and tragic plot is much more than a tale of a licentious duke and a hunch-backed court jester (Rigoletto) and his daughter. What led to the opera’s success? And what significance might the opera have in the 21st century?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Masterpieces of Opera: Mozart's Don Giovanni

Following his move to Vienna in 1781, Mozart set out to compose a number of operas, many of which were enthusiastically received. None, however, would match the ingenuity and artistic depth of Don Giovanni, the opera that many consider the “perfect opera.” Come learn why it is considered as such and, perhaps more importantly, why the opera was such a success and remains one of the most often performed operas today. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to listen to the following examples which can easily be found on YouTube: “Catalogue Aria” and “Don Giovanni, a cenar teco.”

Opera History

The World of the Italian Castrato

Arguably one of the most disturbing phenomoma in musical history is the rise of the Italian castrato in the 18th-century. Indeed, castrati were often considered the rock stars of their time  swooning Italian opera audiences with their vocal pyrotechnics. Unfortunately, however, the castrato endured many hardships  both physiological and psychological. The purpose of this course is to explore the world of the castrato. What gave rise to the use of castrated males on the Italian operatic stage? What motivated parents in leading their own children to such a career? And what brought the end of the castrato tradition? These, and other questions, will be addressed in trying to understand an unusually complex musical phenomenon.

Music and Film

Introduction to Film Music

Music as Words, Music as Emotions: The Functionalities of Film Music

Since the advent of sound in cinema, the almighty film score has become an integral part of the movie experience. Some took years, others were made up on the spot, but all of the best film scores share a few things in common. They are able to convey what the movie is trying to say without words and evoke an emotional response even the most brilliant bit of dialogue cannot. This course introduces the function and meaning of film music, the composers associated with it, and the musical techniques a composer uses to enhance the film's narrative. No music experience necessary.


Who (or what) REALLY killed Mozart: Re-Examining the Evidence

Milos Forman’s 1984 fictionalized film concerning the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is often regarded as one of the greatest achievements in musical historiography. Despite its many historical inaccuracies, the film received 40 awards (including eight Academy Awards), fostering a renewed interest in composer and his older contemporary Antonio Salieri, the famous Viennese court composer who once claimed to have murdered Mozart. This course will examine Mozart’s life and music as it is portrayed in the film and discuss the artistic license taken by Forman. Participants are strongly encouraged (but not required) to view the film before the course.

The (Un)-Exotic in Music: Africa

Questioning Artistic License: Bernard Rose and Beethoven's Immortal Beloved

The music of Africa has had a profound influence on musical genres throughout the Western World. Genres such as Dixieland, Jazz, and Bluegrass as well as musical styles from South America (e.g., Argentine Tango) have roots in African music. Such music, however, is hardly heard in the award-winning film, Out of Africa. Join Dr. Tom Cimarusti as address composer John Barry's musical score for the film and the reasons why indigenous music was purposefully avoided. Participants are strongly encouraged (but not required) to view the film before the course.


Immortal Beloved

Questioning Artistic License: Bernard Rose and Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved"

Following Ludwig van Beethoven’s death in 1827, a letter was found among his personal papers addressed to an “immortal beloved.” In 1994 film director Bernard Rose claims to have identified this mysterious woman in his highly controversial film Immortal Beloved.  Who really was Beethoven’s “immortal beloved?” What evidence supports Rose’s seemingly absurd claim regarding her identity – one that no scholar on Beethoven has endorsed. This course will examine Beethoven’s life and music as it is portrayed in the film and discuss the artistic licenses taken by Rose. Students are encouraged (but not required) to view the film before the course.

Special Topics

Musical Crossovers

Bach, Beethoven, and . . . Billy?: Classical Turns Pop 

Avid listeners of Western Art Music may be unaware that popular music composers, including Barry Manilow, Eric Carmen, Sting, and Billy Joel, not only used classical music as a means of inspiration, but often copied specific works of classical masters. What is even more surprising is that many of these songs have become remarkable "hits" in popular music – some reaching #1 in the pop charts! What classical composers provided such inspiration? And why (or how) did the pop musician adapt such works? Come join Dr. Cimarusti as we explore how Bach, Beethoven, and others have been immortalized in popular music culture!

Appreciating Music

What to Listen for in Music  

Have you ever wondered how music is constructed? How does a composer actually compose a symphony? a quartet? an opera? What are the elements of music that a composers use to compose? This three-part lecture series will introduce students to three basic elements of music: Harmony, Rhythm, and Texture. An understanding of these elements will not only enable them to more fully enjoy and appreciate music, but it will also provide them the skill set to heighten and to think more critically about their listening experiences. Lecture I: Texture; Lecture II: Rhythm; Lecture III: Harmony

Historical Periods in Music

Intro to Music of the Romantic Period

The period from 1800-1900 witnessed the creativity of some of the most sublime compositions in the history of music. Composers such as Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Rossini, and Tchaikovsky (to name only a few) produced numerous works that will forever remain in the canon of Western Art Music. The purpose of this course is to introduce participants to the Romantic Period by offering a definition of "romanticism" in music and the cultural forces that shaped the Romantic movement.

Music and Poetry

The Marriage of Music and Poetry in the 19th-Century Song

The romantic song for voice and piano was arguably one of the most important genres in the 19th-century with nearly every composer from Rossini to Puccini trying their hand at it. What was the impetus in writing such songs? What purpose did these songs serve? We will explore songs by Schubert and Schumann, paying particular attention to how composers "married" music and poetry.  Participants are encouraged (but not required) to listen to Schubert's "Erlkonig" and Schumann's "Ich grille nicht" (easily found on YOUTUBE).

Musical Origins

Giuseppe and Carl: The Forgotten Origins of the Classical Symphony

Have you ever wondered who wrote symphonies before Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven? Who invented it and what brought about its popularity? How and where did the symphony develop? In this course, we will survey several works that led to the development of one of the most important genres in classical music. We will also examine how these earlier works influenced the symphonies of the great masters such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Women in Music

Where are the Women?: Women's Roles in the Musical History

Only until recently have scholars began to critically examine the role women have played in the development of Western Art Music.  Although composers like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven made invaluable contributions to Western Art Music, women also played a crucial role in the development of music, from the sacred works of the 11th-century German abbess Hildegard von Bingen to the 19th-century works of prodigy and "Queen of the Piano," Clara Schumann. What then led to a musical historiography that focused primarily on men? And aside from composing, what other roles did women play, both abroad and in the United States? Come explore the musical masterpieces of women composers, their contributions to the musical world, and the efforts being made to ensure that women are equally represented in the Western musical canon.

Music and Religion

"Ode to Cyrus": The Musical Culture of the Koreshan Unity

In 1894 an eccentric physician and alchemist, Dr. Cyrus Teed, claimed he had a vision that led to his self-proclamation as the Messiah. Dr. Teed and his followers settled in Estero, Florida, where he formed a community that boasted an electric plant, a bakery, and arguably one of the most sophisticated orchestras in 19th-century Florida. This presentation will introduce the musical culture of the Koreshans, focusing on Dr. Cimarusti's current research in reconstructing the hymns of this fascinating cult. Participants will be invited to sing along to several Koreshan hymns, many that have not been sung in over a century but whose tunes will undoubtedly be familiar!

Miniature Masterpieces

Famous Piano Preludes: From Bach to Rachmaninoff

Composers of the 18th and 19th century often wrote short musical works as a preface to larger compositions. Many such works, often referred to as preludes, have become staples in the classical canon, especially those composed by Bach, Chopin, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. This lecture introduces participants to several of the most beloved preludes written for solo piano. Come enjoy a discussion of these miniature musical masterpieces. Perhaps a special guest will even stop by to perform one or two!

 No music experience is necessary. 

Music and Nationalism

Viva la liberta!: Creating a Sense of Nationalism in Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt

As the result of numerous wars, nineteenth-century European witnessed an increase in national identity and patriotism. Composers including Giuseppe Verdi (Italy), Antonin Dvorak (Czechoslovakia), and Jean Sibelius (Finland) actively engaged in a musical nationalism that brought about a number of musical masterpieces that remain in the musical canon. Come join Dr. Cimarusti as we explore how composers embraced nationalism and imbued their compositions with the the spirit of national identity.

Special attention will be given to Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt.

Hawaiian Luau

"Aloha oe!: The Songs of Old Hawaii"

From Don Ho to Elvis Presley to Andy Williams, the islands of Hawaii have inspired many artists to sing of sunsets, pineapples, and beaches. Come join Dr. Cimarusti on a musical journey as he explores the traditional and popular music of the islands. Participants will be introduced to the ukulele with live performances of select songs including "Aloha oe!," "Blue Hawaii," the "Hawaiian War Chant," "Pearly Shells," The Sands of Waikiki," and Don Ho's signature song, "Tiny Bubbles."

Ukulele instruction for up to 10 participants is also available.

Seasonal Topics


Musical Symbolism in J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion

Awe-inspiring in its complexity, universal in its appeal, Bach's St. Matthew Passion is considered by many to be the single greatest masterpiece of western sacred music, a profoundly moving depiction of the final days of the life of Jesus. Come join Dr. Thomas Cimarusti (FGCU Professor of Music History) in a 3-part lecture series that will explore the historical context, musical symbolism, and the significance the work had in establishing Bach as one of the greatest composers in the Western art music tradition.



"Tommy Schnikelfritz and the Polka Maniacs"

Come celebrate Oktoberfest with "Tommy Schnikelfritz and the Polka Maniacs" as we enjoy an afternoon of waltzes, polkas, and other German favorites. Mr. Schnikelfritz (aka Dr. Tom Cimarusti) and his wife Christy will not only lead attendees in the singing of traditional Oktoberfest songs, but also perform and discuss the music associated with the Oktoberfest tradition. Be prepared to put your dancing shoes for the famous "Chicken Dance!" A full polka ensemble (accordion, tuba, bass, clarinet, vocalist) is available for an additional fee.


The Day of Wrath: Witches, Sorcerers, and Monsters in Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique

Arguably one of the most bizarre and influential works in mid-19th century France was Berlioz's epic symphony entitled Symphonie fantastique, a work that tells the story of an obsessive lover's self-destructive passion for a beautiful woman. The symphony describes the composer's obsession and dreams, tantrums and moments of tenderness, and visions of monsters, sorcerers, and witches. Come explore what Bernstein called "the first musical expedition into psychedelia" this Halloween season as Dr. Cimarusti examines Berlioz's frightful musical language, his obsession with the macabre, and a work that remains a masterpiece in the symphonic repertoire.

St. Patrick's Day

"Tommy O'Mulligan and His Lady Leprechaun"

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, come join the fun with "Dr. Tommy O'Mulligan and His Lady Leprechaun" (aka Dr. Tom Cimarusti and special guest) in an educational program on the traditional and contemporary songs of Ireland. Dr. O'Mulligan will examine specific Irish genres including reels and jigs with live demonstrations on accordion, violin, guitar, and bodhran. And of course, your participation in a sing-a-long may convince our lady leprechaun to share her pot of gold!

Fourth of July

Celebrating America's Birthday

We often celebrate and recognize musical masterpieces on holidays such as Easter (e.g., Easter Cantata by J.S. Bach) or Christmas (e.g., Handel's Messiah). Although America's birthday is also celebrated with the patriotic music of John Philip Sousa, a number of masterworks associated with America's Independence were also composed by classical music composers. This lecture explores such works, focusing primarily Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait and Charles Ives's Holiday Symphony. And what would a fourth of July celebration be like without participants singing along with a few patriotic favorites! Come join the fun as we celebrate America's birthday!


Music as Rhetoric: Handel's Messiah and the Obsession with a Christmas Classic.
In 1742 Handel's Messiah burst onto the stage in Dublin, Ireland where a record 700 audience members sat mesmerized listening to a work that would come to dominate the classical world. What is it about this piece that continues to attract vast audiences even to the point of obsession. And how did Handel use musical rhetoric to "speak" to his audiences? Come celebrate the season as we enjoy a discussion on this Christmas classic.

A Medieval Christmas

"Gloria in excelsis Deo": An Introduction to Chant

Celebrate this Christmas season with Dr. Tom Cimarusti as he travels back in time to explore the musical traditions of a Medieval Christmas Mass as well as introduce the musical prayers associated with the Christmas season. Dr. Cimarusti will share rare music manuscripts and instruments from his private collection and lead participants in the reading and singing of Medieval chants, many of which remain as part of traditional worship services today. Don't forget to bring your monk's frock and nun's habit as we gather to learn, sing, and celebrate!

Holidays Around the World

A Musical Celebration

Join Dr. Thomas M. Cimarusti as he leads participants in a sing-a-long musical journey around the world. In celebration of the Holidays, Dr. Cimarusti will introduce holiday selections from Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. Several indigenous instruments from around the world will be used to reinforce the musical experience. Be sure to bring your singing voices!

World Music Series

Exploring World Music

Creating Cultural Identities

Come explore the diverse music from around the world as we examine the musical traditions of South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East. All lectures focus on the study of music from a cultural perspective, illustrating the important role of music as a means of expressions grounded in religious, political, social, and cultural identity. Participants will enjoy a hands-on demonstration of indigenous instruments from select countries and will be encouraged to join in on a brief musical performance!

(any session is available as a single lecture; proposals for other countries not listed are welcomed)


Session I: Music of South America (Argentina/Peru)

Session II: Music Europe (Italy/Greece)

Session III: Music of Asia (Japan/China)

Session IV: South Asia (India/Pakistan)

Session V: Southeast Asia (Vietnam/Thailand)

Session VI: The Middle East (Iran/Egypt)

Session VII: The Caribbean (Trinidad/Cuba)

Session VIII: Africa (Ghana/Zimbabwe)

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