The Classical Music Department will offer classes in classical music improvisation from 2021.
Classical music is an umbrella term that covers music from the Middle Ages to the present day. The term improvisation comes from the Latin word improvisus, meaning unforeseen or unexpected, and is often described as spontaneous performance or real-time composition.
Improvisation has been of central importance through most of music history. During the Baroque period, notation was merely a starting point for musicians' personal ornaments and realizations of the music. Throughout the Classical and Romantic periods, improvisation was also a cornerstone of musicianship. Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Clara Schumann, Joseph Joachim and Franz Liszt were all known for their improvisational skills.
As notation became more detailed and elaborate in the 19th century, a greater distinction arose between composer and performer, and these roles became better defined. Respect for the score, the Urtext and the composer's intention (Werktreue), have led the performance tradition down a narrower track, where the performer's creativity has been subordinated and even stifled under the idea of the Work-concept.
Only in two areas within classical music do we find an active improvisational tradition and practice today - within historical performance practice of Early Music, and in contemporary music.
Classical music has been criticized for its evolving into a rigid tradition, with an inability to renew itself, and for being a system within which musicians preserve, reproduce and perfect a limited number of selected standard works - a canon.
On an international level, in an attempt to renew and revitalize classical music in higher music education, there is a growing focus on improvisation in curricula. Historically this is nothing new, but rather a return to the unbroken centuries-old practice of the past - the holistic musician, a creative performing artist who can build bridges and explore new paths.
Improvisation within classical music varies greatly, depending on the context, style, and historical era. We will explore many types of improvisation in classical music: through historical examples, improvisation within existing works and structures, and contemporary music improvisation including various forms of free improvisation.
A common thread throughout these approaches is an improvisational mindset, an attitude towards music, which can be fruitful whether you want to study classical music or create something completely new.
Through working methods such as workshops, one-on-one lessons, solo and ensemble playing, we will explore different ways to improvise. We will focus on listening as a practice and a fundamental property of improvisation.
The tuition aims to provide students with knowledge and skills via a variety of methods, techniques and strategies for practising and performing improvisation, and the confidence to improvise independently on their main instrument, developing their expressive vocabulary.
The goal is to cultivate musical individuality, freedom and creativity; play your own music!