Music of Celebration, Humour & Pathos - Late Medieval England, Pergolesi, Bach & Handel

This course will present outstanding examples of celebratory and humourous music, as well as music expressive of pathos, by composers in late Medieval England, and by the Baroque masters Pergolesi, Bach and Handel. From late 15th century England, we will listen to music by composers associated with the Eton Choirbook and their contemporaries, as well as Pergolesi’s masterpieces the comic opera ‘La Serva Padrona’ and his ‘Stabat Mater’, Bach’s ‘Peasant Cantata’ and other works for Leipzig, and Handel’s only settings of French texts, as well as music he composed in Rome and London.


  • Face-to-Face


  • 15th century English carols and music by the Eton Choirbook composers – Davy, Lambe, Fawkyner, Browne, and Cornyshe the Elder
  • Bach’s ‘Peasant Cantata’, his Ascension Oratorio, an organ Trio, and extracts from his Magnificat and Mass in B minor
  • Handel’s French-texted arias, his ‘Salve Regina’, chamber duets, trios and cantatas, his English songs, and Anthem for the Foundling Hospital


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

  1. Appreciate the outstanding works studied in the course and their composers’ intentions.
  2. Assess the achievements of the various composers in responding to texts of a very varied nature.
  3. Distinguish the individual stylistic characteristics of each composer.
  4. Evaluate the very different performances heard in the chosen musical extracts.

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