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Music History


Music History Department
Dr. Sarah Waltz
Music History Program Director
Conservatory of Music
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211

The Bachelor of Music in music history is appropriate for students who enjoy the academic or intellectual approach to music. Music history combines the study of individual musical works - the literature of music, its symphonies, sonatas, and songs - with historical, philosophical, and social contexts. This combination both enriches the understanding of beloved musical works and broadens our values regarding listening, performance, and composition. Those who like to use musical knowledge to awaken an appreciation of music in others, who enjoy finding out the "background" or context of a work, or who are skilled in investigating and communicating may find they have a talent for music history.

Music historians may be found in surprising areas: as conductors or music directors, using a research background to develop finer interpretations of works and put together enjoyable and challenging programs; as performers, especially but not exclusively those who use historical performance techniques or older instruments; as journalists, communicating to amateurs by reviewing concerts and writing program notes; as political advocates, promoting the value of the arts and humanities; and frequently as librarians and information scientists, combining research training with a library degree to help others classify and research music. For highly talented students there is also the possibility of studying music history as a preparation to graduate work in musicology, leading to the PhD and the possibility of an academic career. Many Pacific graduates have gone on to have successful academic careers in music history.

The music history program at Pacific begins with the core requirements that apply to all conservatory students: a two-semester survey of Western music, as well as four semesters of music theory and aural perception. A series of upper-level courses is available in rotation for the junior and senior years; past examples have included American Music, Beethoven, Early Romanticism, The Bach Family, and Program Music. These seminar courses are meant to immerse students in a particular topic and period, acquaint them with techniques of historical research, and afford opportunities for writing. These courses fulfill requirements for other conservatory students as well, and are open to all who have the prerequisites, but a music history major takes a higher proportion of these upper-level courses. A senior thesis, on a self-designed topic, is required of music history majors as a summative experience.

The ideal music history student is one who performs at a high level academically and is also a good musician, as the program combines intensive Conservatory musical training with academic work in music and the other humanities, including foreign language. German is the typical language of study. Courses in related areas, such as art history, European or American history, and the social sciences are encouraged; a list of recommended courses is available from the program director.

It is rare for entering students to have any experience in music history; students generally declare the music history major in the second year, after taking the core music history courses. A number of upper-level courses are required, but there is plenty of room for electives, especially in the liberal arts. This flexibility makes the BM in Music History a good degree for a double major within the conservatory. A double degree outside the conservatory may be possible with careful planning, and is also encouraged. A minor in music history is also available.

Music History Faculty

Sarah Waltz, PhD
Associate Professor and Program Director of Music History

Dr. Eric Wood
Associate Professor of Music Theory and Music History

Bachelor of Music in Music History 4-Year Grid