MUSV3106 - Power of Music: Music of Power - Encounters of Music and Politics from Antiquity to the 20th Century


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Home examination
Grade: Letter grades

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Home examination 100/100 3 days

Course content

Music has never been isolated from political history. All music is affected by the social framework composers and musicians are active in. Music, thus, reflects and articulates political tendencies, intentions as well as political Utopias. At the same time music is a powerful tool of manipulation: music can be instrumentalized in order to affect larger og minor groups of society.

The present seminary investigates constants and shifts in this antithetic relationship, through more than 2000 years of political and musical history. The seminary takes relevant Western music from Antiquity to the 20th century into consideration, focusing on art music and selected items of popular music. Three thematic perspectives serve as a basis:

1. Music as articulating relationships of power (public rituals, propaganda and administrative music politics).

2. Music as a medium of articulating identity (hymns, national anthems, sport-anthems).

3. Music as an agent and reflection of conflict, war and protest.

The seminary starts with an overview about political music theory of classic Antiquity (Plato), and a discussion of antique and modern music myths. Music examples from the age of feudalism and absolutism follow. Participants get an insight into the music for coronations (Georg Friedrich Händel's 'Coronation anthems', among others), the music which was performed during the wedding of a Medici prince and a French princess in Florence 1589, as well as about the reflection of political values in the operas, Jean Baptiste Lully wrote for the French "Sun king" Louis XIVth. The second part of the seminary is dedicated to political music during and after the French revolution (1789-1870): revolutionary songs and art music, and for example Ludwig van Beethovens opera 'Fidelio' as well as Giuseppe Verdi's opera 'Don Carlo'. The seminary concludes with an overview about music and power during the Nazi-regime in Germany (1933-1945). A special accent is placed on the role of music in the context of war and violence. The seminary thematises the role of religious medieval music in the age of the crusades, military music, and the role of art- and popular music during the 1st and 2nd World War, as well as the function of music in the context of the Vietnam- and the Iraq-wars.

Learning outcome


An examinee with a completed qualification in MUSV3106 has

  • in-depth knowledge about European music in political contexts and/or with political functions, in a time frame which spreads from the 9th to the 21st century. The examinee has in addition
  • general knowledge about political, cultural, and musical developments in the time period
  • knowledge about important theories, research methods and analytical tools within vocal- and instrumental music in the time period
  • knowledge about central problems within the music from 800-2000 (vocal and instrumental forms and cultural-sociological functions)


An examinee with a completed qualification in MUSV3106 is able

  • to express his/her deepened knowledge in a convincing way, both in writing and speech (compulsory presentation in order to take the exam)
  • to make his/her own reflections based on, and in the extension of the acquired knowledge
  • to utilize the acquired knowledge about analytical tools and research methods on material new and unknown for the examinee
  • to reflect about his/her own scientific work within political music from 800-2000 and to develop it under guided supervision.

Learning methods and activities

Teaching is organised in lectures and seminary activities.

Compulsory assignments

Regular and active participation in lectures and seminars is obligatory. An essay about a topic from the syllabus will be written. Participants give a short oral summary of their essay during the seminaries.

Compulsory assignments

  • One essay
  • Short oral presentation of the essay in the seminars
  • Satisfactory participation in compulsory instruction

Further on evaluation

If the course is not passed, the student must retake the whole assessment.

If the candidate retakes the exam there is no need to retake the compulsory assignments.

Specific conditions

Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Admission to a programme of study is required:
Creative Music Technology (MMUST)
History (BHIST)
History (MHIST)
Music Performance (MMUSP)
Music Performance Studies (BMUSP)
Music Performance Studies - Jazz (BMUSK)
Music Technology (BMUST)
Musicology (BMUSV)
Musicology (MMUSV)

Course materials

Course materials are composed from articles and chapters from secondarylitterature and music editions. Access to a collection of music examples will be made available.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  SPRING 2023

Language of instruction: Norwegian

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Music History
  • Political History
  • Cultural History
  • Aesthetic Studies
  • History
  • Musicology
  • German Cultural Studies
Contact information
Course coordinator: Lecturer(s):

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Music


Examination arrangement: Home examination

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Spring ORD Home examination 100/100





Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

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