Musical Analysis - Romantic to Modern


The purpose of musical analysis is to understand the underlying structure of the works which we consider to be beautiful and worthwhile in their own right. Some aspects of this structure have been consciously planned by the composer but others, often remarkable instances of hidden structure, occur subconsciously.

A starting point for analysis will usually be a simple description of the work's obvious features, whether it falls into several movements, how the themes are disposed within the movements and so on. This course’s analysis introduces works from the Romantic and Modern periods. Studying one work each week, we will take a range of approaches to seek a deeper understanding of the music’s structure and the composers’ creative choices – to  include Roman numeral notation, motivic (after the analysts Leonard B. Meyer and Rudolph Reti) and the basic concepts of Heinrich Schenker's analytical method.

No prior knowledge of musical theory is required, but a knowledge of basic musical notation will be helpful.

Programme details

Course begins: 17th Jan 2022

Week 1:   Mendelssohn (1809-47): 2 Songs Without Words - No. 9 in E, Op. 30, no. 3 & No. 20 in E flat, Op. 53, no. 2

Week 2:   Schumann (1810-56): Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish), 4th movt.

Week 3:  Chopin (1810-49): Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27, no. 2

Week 4:  Brahms (1833-97): 2 songs - Wie Melodien zieht es & Vergebliches Ständchen

Week 5:  Wagner (1813-83): Tristan und Isolde - Liebestod

Week 6:  Bizet (1838-75): 2 arias from Carmen - Seguidilla & La fleur que tu m'avais jetée

Week 7:  Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): 2 Preludes from Op. 23 - No. 4 in D & No. 7 in C minor

Week 8: Ravel (1875-1937): Piano Concerto in G, 2nd movt.

Week 9: Bartók (1881-1945): String Quartet no. 4, 3rd movt.

Week 10: Prokofiev (1891-1957): Violin Concerto no. 1 in D, Op. 19, 1st movt.


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £229.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Mr Jonathan Darnborough

Jonathan Darnborough is Director of Studies in Music and Departmental Lecturer in Music at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.  He is a composer and pianist and has worked in continuing education throughout his career. He is the author of Oxford University’s first three online Music courses.

Course aims

To give students a conceptual framework with which they can analyse the structure of musical works and use this knowledge to enhance their appreciation of the music at all levels.

Course Objectives:

1.  To give students a knowledge of the different forms of analytical approach

2.  To provide models of the application of each of these approaches

3.  To indicate the sorts of understanding that we expect to gain from each analytical approach

Teaching methods

Classes will consist of a pre-recorded one hour lecture for each week and the classroom discussion will then take place in the online 'live' hour session, in which musical illustrations will be provided by the tutor either on the piano or sharing computer screen and sound.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. describe some of the types of analysis developed in the last century

2. understand how these techniques are applied to different kinds of music

3. identify the common ground between different kinds of analytical approach

Assessment methods

Assessment is either by a 1500 word essay or an analytical project, the nature of which should be discussed with the tutor beforehand. The findings of the analytical project might be presented in a graphical form or as an annotated score with some commentary.

Students may, alternatively, opt to do a portfolio of three mini-assignments, analysing passages from the works studied in the course.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


We will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)