Online Beethoven Course Attracts 25,000 Students

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Above: A taste of Jonathan Biss’ online course “Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas,” offered through Coursera in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.

Pianist and Curtis Institute of Music faculty member Jonathan Biss has studied Beethoven’s piano sonatas since he was a kid. He has performed them, written about them, is currently in the middle of a multi-year project to record them – and now he’s teaching an online course about them

Today is the first day of school for the nearly 25,000 students enrolled in Biss’ massive online open course (MOOC) “Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas,” offered through the online learning portal Coursera in conjunction with the Curtis Institute. The five-week course is open to learners of all backgrounds and will consist of weekly hour-long videorecorded lectures and two peer-assessed assignments.

In today’s lecture, Biss opens the course with a discussion of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 7.

I had a chance to chat with Biss recently about his obsession with Beethoven and his plans for his online course. Following the course schedule, over the next five weeks I will be posting audio excerpts from my wide-ranging interview with Biss. In the excerpt above Biss talks about his obsession with Beethoven – and more.

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