ABSTRACT: The theory curricula offered by the classical music departments of the former Sweelinck and Hilversum Conservatories represented two distinct trends in Dutch music theory teaching. While the Sweelinck Conservatory's courses reflected a pragmatic view of the discipline, and laid much emphasis on harmony and ear-training, those in Hilversum were more intellectually oriented, focusing attention on music analysis. After these two strongly different institutes decided to merge to form the Amsterdam School of Music, an entirely new theory curriculum had to be devised. Electives became a distinctive feature of the new curriculum. Paragraphs 1-7 of this article deal with the historical aspects of the merger, while in paragraphs 8-12 the new curriculum is described.
 Increasing financial pressures forced the Sweelinck Conservatory to become part of the Amsterdam School of the Arts and, consequently, to join forces with Hilversum. Hilversum's administration, in turn, had every reason to jump at the proposal. It had always been in a rather vulnerable position, since it belonged to the smaller of the 12 state-aided conservatories in Holland. Though already part of a larger unit, it could still be dropped on account of low enrollment figures. Besides, the Dutch Department of Education was preparing a nation-wide reform of the conservatory programs. This would shorten the duration of these programs from five to four years, and enable only the largest and best-equipped conservatories to provide education on an advanced level for two additional years. It was quite clear that this governmental policy aimed at a cutback in expenditure, and that small conservatories like Hilversum's would eventually fall victim to it. So, the Sweelinck and Hilversum Conservatories both had an interest in merging. The result of their amalgamation was the Amsterdam School of Music.
 Naturally, making two teaching institutes into one is no easy operation. It involves, among many other things, cutting down on trusted staff, revising well-tried curricula, and adjusting long-accepted admission and degree requirements. And when the individuals of these institutes are as different as those at the former Sweelinck and Hilversum Conservatories, it puts a severe strain on the acceptance and creativity of the faculties involved. On the other hand, it may also provide an opportunity to consider whether a particular program still serves its implicit goals and meets the requirements of the professional field.
 The classical music departments of the Sweelinck and Hilversum Conservatories offered music theory curricula that were so widely divergent that the creation of an entirely new curriculum for the Amsterdam School of Music, to which both theory divisions would agree, was necessary. Apart from bringing about an agreement, however, this new curriculum also needed to safeguard the continuation of music theory teaching on the same level as before under the more restrictive conditions imposed by the Department of Education. Furthermore, it needed to respond to the current differentiation of musical life, and to the specialization of musical knowledge going hand in hand with it.
 At the Sweelinck Conservatory every student enrolled had to complete a two-year music theory program. Apart from a short introductory course on the fundamentals of music, this program consisted of a course combining harmony and analysis, and one combining solfege and ear-training. Both courses extended over the full range of two years. There were also courses on modal and tonal counterpoint, but these were mandatory for special categories of students only: students of organ, composition and music theory. The modal counterpoint course was also intended for students of early music.
 The harmony and analysis course offered at the Sweelinck Conservatory was basically a harmony course occasionaly touching on music analysis. Students were not trained in examining scores and writing analytical papers, but rather learned to respond verbally to what they heard in a musical piece. While music analysis was given only slight consideration, harmony was taught intensively. The entire range of the discipline, from the fundamental materials to chromaticism, was covered in the first year. The second year was devoted to writing exercises in various tonal forms and styles, for example Lieder, preludes, fugues and sonata expositions. Thus, students were made familiar with harmonic principles as embodied in musical compositions.
 At the Hilversum Conservatory of Music every student enrolled followed a three-year music theory program, the core of which was a course, extending over the whole study period, which combined harmony, analysis and ear-training. Solfege was taught seperately, while counterpoint courses were required for only a few majors, as at the Sweelinck Conservatory. This lengthy and highly integrated program was adopted from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, which counted several former music theory students on Hilversum's faculty. Contrary to the Sweelinck Conservatory's program it centered around music analysis. Hilversum students received a more scholarly training than their colleagues at the Sweelinck, a training that involved writing analytical papers, and that was expected to deepen their musical experience. Extra-curricular events added to this scholarly training. Several lecture series and seminars have been organized in Hilversum, some of which have explored specific areas of music theory. In 1989, for example, there was a four-day seminar on the theories of Heinrich Schenker.
 The theory curriculum offered by the classical music department of the new Amsterdam School of Music, which has been drawn up by the music theorist Henk Borgdorff, is much more flexible than the curricula of the former Sweelinck and Hilversum Conservatories. Further, it allows more interaction with the music history program. From the second year onward students are offered elective theory and history courses, so that they can compile a program that suits their major, or that simply meets their special interests. The comprehensive approach that was characteristic for Hilversum's program in particular has been dispensed with, since it tended to invite a certain shallowness and rigidity in the last few years. The elective system replacing it offers sufficient time for thorough instruction, and sufficient scope for integrating new fields of study.
 The curriculum is organized as follows. The 34
weeks of the academic year are divided into three
trimesters of ten weeks each, plus two periods of two
weeks between the trimesters in which students take
exams or participate in orchestral projects. Everyone
is required to follow weekly lessons in harmony and
ear-training and solfege throughout their first two
years. In the first year, an introductory course in
18th-century analysis is a requirement for all
students. In addition, they follow two trimesters of
20th-century analysis. In the second year, they are
required to follow one trimester of early music
analysis, two trimesters of 18th- and 19th-century
analysis, two trimesters of twentieth-century
analysis, as well as an instrumentation course of two
 Starting in their second year, students make a choice of specialized courses in both theory and history. Those who want do develop their writing skills may choose to do Renaissance counterpoint, Baroque counterpoint, melody in early music, and/or advanced instrumentation. A course in 20th-century solfege and ear-training is offered to those interested in contemporary music. Furthermore, a rich variety of analysis and history courses is offered, all taking up one trimester of ten two-hour lessons. Some of the courses focus on one, two or three composers while others will study single compositions, composition cycles or the music of a larger period. A similar albeit smaller choice of history courses is offered (see Table 1).
TABLE 1: The elective courses of the academic year 1996-1997, divided into four main categories (A-D) A. Solfege, Ear-training and Writing Skills 1. Renaissance Counterpoint 2. Baroque Counterpoint 3. Melody in Early Music 4. 20th-Century Solfege and Ear-training B. Analysis Composers: 1. Schubert 2. Chopin, Liszt and Wagner 3. Wagner 4. Nielsen, Scriabin and Sibelius 5. Faure and Ravel 6. Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky 7. Stravinsky 8. Messiaen Compositions and composition cycles: 9. The Eighth Book of Madrigals of Cl.Monteverdi 10. Cantata 73 (J.S.Bach) 11. Die Kunst der Fuge (J.S. Bach) 12. The Beethoven Piano Sonatas 13. Schubert's Winterreise 14. The Late Piano- and Chamber Music of Brahms 15. Les Beatitudes (Franck) Periods: 16. Baroque Rhetoric 17. History of the Sonata 18. The Lied in the Romantic Era 19 Wiener Espressivo 20. From Atonality towards Twelve-Tone and Integral Serialism 21. From Avantgarde towards Contemporary Music C. Music History Early Music: 1. La Vuelta - Giro d'Italia - Tour de France 2. Variations, Bearbeitungen, Dances 18th and 19th Centuries: 3. Music of the Fin de Siecle 4. Vienna, Paris, Budapest 20th Century: 5. Symphony and Music Theatre in the 20th Century 6. Introduction into electronic and electro-acoustical music D. Other Courses 1. Notation and Interpretation of Polyphony in the Late Medieval and Renaissance Periods 2. Music Philosophy 3. Introduction into Jazz Theory 4. History of Music Theory: From Aristoxenos to Stockhausen 5. Harmony at the Keyboard
 An identical number of courses is not required of all students. A 'standard' program is followed by students of early music, piano, college music, and conductors of brass bands. An 'extended' program is followed by students of composition, organ, church music, and music theory. However, most of the students follow a 'limited' program. This program is followed by students of the regular instruments as well as those of voice and opera and those of orchestral and choral conducting. On the other hand, some of the courses are compulsory for certain majors. For example, singers follow extra solfege courses and students of orchestral and choral conducting are required to follow specialized analysis courses. On average, a student will choose one course from each of the categories A, B and C in Table 1, and five courses irrespective of the categories to which they belong.
 So far, the response of both students and staff to the new curriculum is quite positive. In the one- plus year of its use only two minor disadvantages have emerged. The administrative complications are more elaborate now than they used to be. The expectation is that this problem will be solved in due course. Another disadvantage is that the second trimester takes place from November through March which means that it is interrupted by the Christmas holidays. This interruption tends to break the attention span. However, the general opinion is that the advantages outweigh the problems. Teachers give classes within their fields of specializiation and, similarly, their courses are attended by highly motivated students!
Michiel C. Schuijer
University of Utrecht
Department of Musicology
Kromme Nieuwe Gracht 29
Utrecht, Holland 3512 HD
2.The history courses offered in the first and second years are
divided in a way similar to the analysis courses. Thus, there are history courses
concerning the early music (i.e. pre-classical) period, the 18th and 19th centuries and
the 20th century. All of these are mandatory.
Return to text
Return to Beginning
 Any redistributed form of items published in MTO must include the following information in a form appropriate to the medium in which the items are to appear:
This item appeared in Music Theory Online in [VOLUME #, ISSUE #] on [DAY/MONTH/YEAR]. It was authored by [FULL NAME, EMAIL ADDRESS], with whose written permission it is reprinted here.
 Libraries may archive issues of MTO in electronic or paper form for public access so long as each issue is stored in its entirety, and no access fee is charged. Exceptions to these requirements must be approved in writing by the editors of MTO, who will act in accordance with the decisions of the Society for Music Theory.
This document and all portions thereof are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Material contained herein may be copied and/or distributed for research purposes only.