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Masterworks of Music in Vienna & Prague

Masterworks of Music in Vienna & Prague
Explore the emergence of modernity Vienna and Prague through music.
Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic
Language of Instruction: 
Winter Break
Academic Disciplines: 
-Open to All Majors
Graduate Courses
Program Type: 
  • Fulfill KU Core Goal 3 Arts and Humanities or KU Core Goal 4.2 Culture and Diversity (students in MUSC 335 only) by studying music in two of Europe's most beautiful capital cities.
  • Walk in the footsteps of influential 18th and 19th century classical composers including Beethoven, Dvořák, Mozart, Haydn, Mahler, and Smetana.
  • Experience guided tours of Schönbrunn Palace, Prague Castle, and other historical sites.
  • Marvel at world-class performances in famous venues including the Vienna State Opera, the Schönbrunner Marionettentheater, and the National Theater in Prague.
Program Summary: 

This course offers students a unique opportunity to explore the famously musical cities of Vienna and Prague with music historian and KU professor Dr. Martin Nedbal. The course is designed to explore the emergence of modernity in these cities, two Central European cities formerly belonging to the Habsburg Austrian Empire, between 1700 and 1900. The lens for examining this process will focus on architecture, theater, and music, with a special emphasis on opera. The course will consider the ways in which political and social elites mediated authority through the arts in an age of emerging liberalism and nationalism; how they conceived of themselves as Westerners and Europeans through imagined encounters with various national and exotic “Others;” and how the growth of a new class structure and the evolution of modernist thinking were reflected in the transformation of representative architectural monuments (such as opera houses and concert halls) and in large-scale public music works, such as operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss and symphonic music of Antonín Dvořák.

Of central concern for students in this course will be the role of artistic representation in the emergence of modern forms of social and political power distribution. Students will thus not only acquire basic familiarity with the musical genres of symphony and opera in their original environment but also inquire into the essential characteristics of what it means to be modern and discuss how social and political aspects of modernity were mediated through culture.


Vienna, capital city of Austria, is famous for its musical history. Many of Europe’s most well-known composers lived and worked in this city, including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. 

Likewise, Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, has played an important role in the cultural and political history of Central Europe. Two of the city’s most significant cultural landmarks include the National Theater (Národní divadlo) and the Estates Theater (Stavovské divadlo), where Mozart’s Don Giovanni and La Clemenza di Tito premiered. 

Academic Information: 

Classes will consist of lectures and discussion about the subjects connected to daily excursions and performances. Coursework will include assigned readings, participation in all scheduled activities, daily journal entries, and a final project due after the conclusion of the course. Students will enroll in one of the following courses:

MUSC 136 / MUSC 336 Masterworks of Music (3 credit hours) 


This course introduces students to major works of classical music in the social and political contexts of early modern Central Europe in the environment where that music was originally created.



MUSC 135 / MUSC 335 Masterworks of Music - Honors (3 credit hours) 
Honors version of MUSC 136 / MUSC 336. Open only to students in the University Honors Program or by permission of instructor. 


MUSC 650 Selected Topics in Music:  Masterworks of Music (3 credit hours) 
Graduate-level course for qualified students


In Vienna, students will be housed in shared student apartments.  Apartments include kitchen facilities for meal preparation and internet access. 

In Prague, students will stay in a double or triple occupancy room at a hotel. Breakfast and internet access is included.


Open to undergraduate or graduate students from accredited U.S. colleges or universities who have a minimum 2.5 GPA. No prior coursework is necessary.

Program Faculty: 

Dr. Martin Nedbal is an Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Kansas.  He received his Ph.D. in Historical Musicology from the Eastman School of Music and his main research interest is in opera history, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe.  He also studies the music of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, and Czech music.  Dr. Nedbal has led multiple study abroad programs to Eastern Europe, including the inaugural KU Masterworks of Music study abroad program in 2018.  

Martin Nedbal, PhD
School of Music
338 Murphy Hall


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