The French-Italian Musical Connection - Baroque to 20th Century WEA Sydney

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The influence of Italian music on French music is both long-standing and well documented. Much of the music composed in France between the Baroque era and the 20th century shows this influence very clearly and specifically. This is obvious in instrumental music as well as in vocal works. In addition, some Italian music of this era pays tribute to French traditions. Explore this fascinating relationship through the instrumental and vocal music of such outstanding composers as François Couperin, Corelli, Lully, Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Verdi, Debussy, Ravel, Lili Boulanger, Palestrina and Poulenc.


  • Face-to-Face


  • François Couperin and the music of Arcangelo Corelli and Jean-Baptiste Lully – his tributes to these composers and his sacred vocal works
  • The music of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Antonio Vivaldi and its reception in France – sacred vocal works and instrumental concertos
  • Verdi’s ‘French’ operas – ‘Giovanna d’Arco’ and ‘Don Carlos’; Debussy’s tribute to Italy ‘Les Collines d’Anacapri’
  • Ravel’s piano suite ‘Le Tombeau de Couperin’, his ballet ‘Daphnis et Chloé’, and the Nocturne by Lili Boulanger
  • Poulenc – his motet ‘Exultate Deo’ based on Palestrina, his ballet ;Les Biches’ and his sacred vocal works


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Distinguish the major differences between French and Italian musical traditions during the period covered in this course
  2. Appreciate the way in which Italian musical style was absorbed by French composers between the Baroque and the 20th century
  3. Discuss the reasons which led French composers to imitate Italian musical models
  4. Outline the various stylistic traits of the music heard and discussed

Robert Forgacs

MA (Hons), PhD
Robert has been a casual lecturer, tutor and post-doctoral fellow at UNSW. He has taught at the WEA since 1992 and has also lectured for CCE at Sydney University, the North-side Opera Study Group,...