Bringing Music History to Life in Italy


Image of students in the History of Western Music classroom session in Florence, Italy.

Students in the History of Western Music classroom session in Florence, Italy.

School of Music students explored Italy’s rich music history from antiquity to the present in the summer abroad course “History of Western Music I,” led by Instructor II Amy Stewart and Instructor II Gina Bombola. The course is the first in a three-semester series surveying music history for students to develop their musicianship from performing to presenting academic research.

For three weeks, students participated in and experienced live performances and gained an in-depth understanding of the history and role of music by visiting historical sites and museums.

“We hoped students could connect to and understand more completely the music of this period by seeing firsthand the spaces this music was written for, as well as the art and architecture,” Stewart said.

Bombola and Stewart designed the interdisciplinary course for students to understand the context and prominence of music throughout the country’s history.

History of Western Music was led by TCU professors Gina Bombola, P.h.D., and Amy Stewart, P.h.D.  

“This course brought history to life,” Bombola said. “We drew connections more clearly because we were in the places where important events occurred and saw how music is just one part of a greater whole.”

The course provided a unique opportunity for music students to study abroad while still fulfilling degree requirements. In the bustling cities of Rome and Florence, students strolled the streets and were surrounded by ancient architecture, art and history.

“I hope our students are transformed by this experience,” said Stewart. “Travel can be formational at this age when accompanied by serious study and inquiry. My own experience studying abroad was incredibly impactful, opening my eyes to new ideas, new people and teaching me about myself and my place in the world. I hope our students will experience this as well.”