Pianist Jonathan Biss and the Curtis Institute of Music are partnering with online course operator Coursera to offer a free online course on Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. Thus far 19,500 people have signed up for the video classes, which are due to begin on September 3. Biss is currently halfway though a 10-year project to release the complete Beethoven sonatas – Volume 2 was released in January this year.
The five-week course, named ‘Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas’, is not for the faint-hearted, involving an estimated workload of 1-2 hours per week, regular deadlines and recommended reading and listening, personally chosen by Biss. The Coursera system makes extensive use of interactive exercises: video lectures frequently stop, and students are asked to answer questions to test whether they are taking in and understanding the material. It is not necessary to have studied an instrument or to have any prior knowledge of music theory, however, and each student who completes the course will receive a statement of accomplishment.
‘I am so thrilled to be working with Curtis on this new endeavour,’ said Biss, who is an alumnus of the Institute and its Neubauer Family Foundation Chair in Piano Studies. ‘As a musician, whether I'm performing, rehearsing, teaching, or even just listening, my greatest joy - the whole point, really - is in sharing music. I am enormously grateful to Curtis for the incomparable education I received there, and for the constant creative stimulation I find in working with its students today. But now, through Coursera, I have the opportunity to connect with students and lovers of music on a scale I never imagined was possible. As much as I cherish the one-on-one interaction I have with the students within Curtis's walls, I find this opportunity to share that experience with people the world over incredibly exciting.’
For full course details and to enrol visit coursera.org.