Robert Levin is a true music lover

This fall of 2009, I am fortunate to be appointed head teaching fellow for Harvard's core course B-54: Chamber Music From Mozart to Ravel, taught by Robert Levin (Curriculum Vitae on Harvard Music Department's web site) (there is a shorter biography on wikipedia).

Attending a lecture by Robert Levin is a great experience. He believes that anyone can have fun listening to great music, and he is very talented to communicate his fascination for music. Whether you never listened to classical music in your life, or you are an accomplished musician, you will hear music differently after listening to him.

For this year's edition of the course, he chose to spend some time with the following pieces of chamber music:

  • Joseph Haydn String Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 33/2, Hob. III:38 (“Joke”)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 25. Sonate in A: KV 256 for violin and piano
  • Franz Schubert Trio in E-flat Major, D 929 op. 100
  • Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Second String Quartet
  • Robert Schumann Phantasiestücke Op. 73 for clarinet and piano
  • Johannes Brahms Sextett Nr. 2, Op. 36
  • Antonin Dvorak Quintet for 2 violins, viola, cello, and double bass, Op. 97
  • Claude Debussy Sonate pour Violoncelle et Piano
  • Maurice Ravel Histoires naturelles (voice & piano)

Well, today, he spoke a lot about Bach and the Beatles!

Robert Levin
Picture copyright Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office - See this 2006 article in the Harvard Gazette

Robert Levin is an improvisor, and a rebel

Derek Bailey invited Robert Levin in his documentary On the edge, part 1 (first broadcast February 2, 1992 on the BBC). Although you could look at a short excerp on youtube (Robert Levin talks about improvisation), I strongly encourage you to watch the full 13 minutes on ubu: On the edge part 1. Robert Levin plays piano and is interviewed from 07:00 to 20:00. Enjoy!


  1. Hi, Jean-François,

    I am one of the auditors in B84. It was wonderful to hear you and Prof. Levin play the Schumann today. You are a marvelous clarinetist!

    One of the few advantages of getting old enough to retire is getting to sit in on a wonderful course like this. And so, I am shocked at how few undergraduates are taking advantage of the opportunity to study under Levin. Moreover, I was appalled today that no one was willing or able to say how they reacted to that (mostly) descending line of seconds.

    Anyway, my most heartfelt thanks to Professor Levin and to you, and best wishes for every success.


    Bill Joplin

  2. Thank you for your good words!
    Yes, the low enrollment is mainly a result of administrative & communication glitches in the transition from the "Core Courses" to the "General Education" (Gen Ed) at Harvard.
    That will certainly be solved next year. I hope many students will be given the opportunity to take this course or another of Pr. Levin's!
    See you soon...


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