Campus Focus: Queens College of the City of New York—Jousting for Queens or Return to the (Music) Lists

October 1, 1964

Jousting for Queens
Return to the (Music) Lists

As the morning festivities drew to a close on the final day of the CMS jousting match in Columbus last December, the author of these words entered the lists unexpectedly, fired a round of off-the-cuff verbal blasts, and promptly left town.

"Pure cowardice," snorted Sir Martin Bernstein, the tourney Adjudicator.

"It is against regulations," added Sir Robert Trotter, a formidable Western Knight, "No participant may depart before this afternoon's barbed javelin contest!"

Protestations of a shortage of time and a lengthy journey in a creaky chariot were drowned in a hail of pointed questions. There was no alternative but to slink away silently with one's Ford's tailpipe between its wheels.

Several months later, when the Historian-in-Chief of our noble Society invited the author to return to the "Battle of the Lists" via these pages, he accepted with alacrity, for: a) he desired that these chronicles record for posterity the true tale of the Queens List; and b) he hoped that if all barbed, weighted or otherwise loaded queries were answered, the valor of Queens' colors would be vindicated.

The Chronicle of the List began two decades ago during the reign of King Paul the First . . . basta! basta! . . . during the tenure of Paul Klapper, distinguished first president of Queens College. Since the Queens Music Literature List owes its creation to Dr. Klapper's philosophy, a brief historical digression is in order. Klapper held to the Ciceronian conviction that humanistic studies were essential to the proper education of the leaders of mankind. He advocated a rich liberal arts curriculum in which fully half of the courses were rigidly prescribed for all students, one full year of art and music included; the remaining half was equally divided between courses in the major subject and free electives. Furthermore, as a realistic educator, Klapper recognized that receiving passing grades in some forty college courses (no matter how well planned), did not necessarily make Jack a liberally educated boy. He insisted that before being granted the Bachelor of Arts Degree, Jack demonstrate possession of "the ability to think clearly and the capacity to retain and integrate knowledge." Klapper called this "intellectual maturity" and in order to test it, a unique set of examinations had to be devised. These examinations went beyond the boundaries of individual courses; passing them was required for graduation. The nature of these tests is such that a student can often be stimulated to higher goals of learning and at the same time, it makes it impossible for him to squeeze through to a college degree by last minute cramming in each separate course.

Before turning to the specific examination that begat our Music Literature List, a word about the other tests may be illuminating. At the completion of four semesters of prescribed courses1 the student takes two Comprehensive Examinations, one in the Social Sciences (Contemporary Civilization) and the other in the general field of the Arts. The latter, for example, is designed to measure: "the range and quality of the knowledge the student has gained from required courses in English, his foreign language, Speech, Art and Music; the intelligence of his judgment about the arts and his ability to apply to material not treated in class the critical concepts and analytical skill he has developed in the required courses; his ability to discuss the interrelationships among the various required courses." Preparations for the Arts Comprehensive involves a general review of the work done in the required courses and the carrying out of a unified group of special assignments that may entail reading specific books, studying specific poems and speeches, listening to specific compositions, becoming familiar with specific works of art.2

As a Lower Senior, the student must pass the Foreign Language Reading Examination, testing his retention of the ability to read and comprehend material of average difficulty without the aid of a dictionary. This examination generally occurs several semesters after course-work in the language has been terminated.

One month before graduation, the [surviving] student takes his Senior Concentration Examination for which an entire day is set aside in the College calendar. "The aim is to test the student's competence in his (major) subject as a whole . . . not merely in those portions of the subject in which he has taken courses." The Music Department's Senior Concentration Examination includes subjects taught at Queens, such as Harmony, Sight-singing, Ear-Training, Analysis, History and "non-course" subjects such as performance on the major instrument, sight-reading, and music literature.

We have finally returned home. The Queens Music Literature List was born some fifteen years ago to serve as a yardstick by which a student's knowledge of the repertoire of music could be evaluated; more important, it developed as a pedagogical tool by which that knowledge could be enhanced. Revisions and additions have occurred periodically, but have left the list fundamentally the same in nature. One major change in testing procedure, instituted recently by Professor Saul Novack, Chairman of the Music Department, has immeasurably strengthened the pedagogical effectiveness of the list. Instead of a single examination as part of the Senior Concentration Examination, the list has been divided into four parts and there are now four examinations, one each year. This has resulted in less Senior frenzy and more overall learning.

At present, the list includes about 300 works (omitting, for the moment, the additional 100 from historical anthologies which are used only for period and style recognition). Within this limitation of size, we have tried to fashion as comprehensive a list of significant Western art music as possible . . . from Perotin to Dallapiccola, from madrigal to music drama, from keyboard fugue to choral symphony. Each of the four parts of the list contains the same nine broad categories: symphonies, concerti, other orchestral works, chamber music, keyboard music (organ), choral music, opera, songs and other works for voice, early music (for period and style recognition).

Before any further discussion of the makeup of the list, testing procedures employed, etc., and especially for the benefit of those readers who were not present at the Columbus symposium at which copies were distributed, here is the complete list in its latest revision (October, 1963).


Haydn: 104 Mendelssohn: 4 Franck: in d
Mozart: 40 Schumann: 4 Shostakovitch: 5
Beethoven: 5 Brahms: 4 Harris: 3
Schubert: 8 Tchaikowsky: 6  
(Piano) (Violin) (Miscellaneous)
Mozart: K.466 (d) Bach: in E Bach: Brandenburg No. 5
Beethoven: 5 Mendelssohn Bloch: Schelomo
Tchaikowsky: 1 Vivaldi: 4 violins and orch. Boccherini: cello, in
Bartok: 3    
Other Orchestral Works:  
Beethoven: Leonore Overture No. 3 Stravinsky: Petrouchka
Smetana: Vltava Ravel: Daphnis & Chloé Suite No. 2
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun Webern: Passacaglia Opus 1
Strauss: Til Eulenspiegel Copland: Billy the Kid
Chamber Music:  
Corelli: Trio Sonata op. 3:7 Schumann: Piano Quintet
Haydn: Quartet op. 20:5 Brahms: Violin Sonata in d
Mozart: Quintet in g (K.516) Debussy: String Quartet
Beethoven: Quartet op. 18:4 Bartok: String Quartet No. 2
Beethoven: Violin Sonata in a (Kreutzer)  
Keyboard Music: (Organ)  
Bach: Passacaglia & Fugue, C minor  
Bach: WTC Book I: Chopin: Ballade op. 23:1
Prelude and Fugue in c minor Polonaise op. 40:2
Mozart: Sonata in D (K.576) Schumann: Fantasy Pieces
Beethoven: Sonata op. 10:3 Debussy: La cathédrale engloutie
Schubert: Impromptu in , op. 142:2 Hindemith: Sonata No. 2
Choral Music:  
Bach: Mass in B Minor: Kyrie-Christe-Kyrie Haydn: Creation, Part I
Cantata No. 4 (Christ lag in Todesbanden) Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms
Handel: Messiah Perotin: Sederunt principes
  Palestrina: Laudate Dominum
Mozart: Don Giovanni Bizet: Carmen Puccini: La Bohème
Pergolesi: Serva Padrona Falla: Vida Breve  
Songs and Other Works for Voice:  
Schubert: The Erlking
Gretchen am Spinnrade
Schumann: Widmung
Du Bist wie eine Blume
  Mozart: Das Veilchen
Early Music: (Period and Style Recognition)
Parrish-Ohl: Masterpieces of Music before 1750 (Use textbook with listening, 3 discs)
Bach, C.P.E.: Sinfonia in e Schumann: 3 Tchaikowsky: 5
Stamitz: Sinfonia à 8 in D (ARC-3092) Mendelssohn: 3 Mahler: 4
Haydn: 44 Brahms: 1 Prokofieff: Classical Symphony
Mozart: 39 Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique Hindemith: Mathis der Maler
Beethoven: 1    
Beethoven: 6    
Beethoven: 9    
(Piano) (Violin) (Miscellaneous)
Bach, J.C.: D (Harpsichord) Mozart: 5 Handel: Concerto Grosso op. 6:10
Schumann Beethoven Brahms: Double Concerto
Stravinsky: Movements for piano & orch. Prokofieff: 2 Dvorak: Cello Concerto
Other Orchestral Works:  
Beethoven: Egmont Overture Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn Copland: Music for the Theater
Smetana: Overture to the Bartered Bride Milhaud: La Création du Monde
Debussy: Three Nocturnes Scriabin: Poem of ecstasy
Chamber Music:  
Haydn: Quartet op. 76:2 Franck: Violin Sonata
Mozart: Piano Quartet in g K.478 Ravel: String Quartet
Beethoven: Trio in (Archduke) Hindemith: String Quartet No. 3
Schubert: Quartet in d (Death and the Maiden) Carter: String Quartet No. 2
Keyboard Music:    
Bach: French Suite No. 5 Chopin: Preludes (Complete) Liszt: Transcendental Etude in f
WTC Book II: Schumann: Carnaval (Complete) Debussy: Des pas sur la neige
Prelude and Fugue in F major Brahms: Intermezzo op. 117:2 Bartok: Improvisations opus 20
Mozart: Fantasy in D minor    
Beethoven: Sonata opus 111    
Choral Music:  
Schütz: Christmas Oratorio Bach: Mass in b: Credo
Binchois: De plus en plus (through Et Ressurexit)
Dufay: Veni creator spiritus Mendelssohn: Elijah, Part I
Landini: Gran piant agl' occhi Poulenc: Gloria in G
Monteverdi: Orfeo, Acts I and II Berg: Wozzeck
Gluck: Orpheus and Euridice Stravinsky: Rake's Progress
Verdi: Rigoletto  
Songs and Other Works for Voice:
Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte
Schubert: from "Schwanengesang":
Am Meer
Der Doppelgänger
Brahms: Die Mainacht
Wir Wandelten
Mussorgsky: from "Songs and Dances of Death":
Death the Commander
Mahler: from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn":
Das irdische Leben
Lob des hohen Verstands
Der Schildwache Nachtlied
Antonius Fischpredigt
Ravel: Chansons Madécasses
Early Music: (Period and Style Recognition)
Parrish: A Treasury of Early Music (4 discs, textbook with listening)


Haydn: 101 Brahms: 2 Prokofieff: 5
Mozart: 25 Tchaikowsky: 4 Piston: 4
Beethoven: 2, 3, 7 Bruckner: 7 Schuman: 6
Schubert: 5    
(Piano) (Violin) (Miscellaneous)
Bach: d Tchaikowsky Vivaldi: Concerto Grosso op. 3:9
Mozart: C (K.467) Chausson: Poème Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra
Chopin: 1 Paganini: 1 Walton: Viola Concerto
Liszt: 1    
Rachmaninoff: 3    
Other Orchestral Works:  
Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture Schoenberg: 5 pieces for Orchestra
Weber: Freischütz Overture Carter: Variations
Debussy: La Mer Varèse: Intégrales
  Ives: Unanswered Question
Chamber Music:  
Couperin: Apothéose de Corelli Schubert: Str. Quintet in C
Bach: Partita in d for solo violin Brahms: Cello Sonata in e
Mozart: Divertimento in (K.563) Schoenberg: Str. Quartet No. 4
String Quartet in C (K.465) Berg: Lyric Suite
Beethoven: Str. Quartet, op. 59:3  
Cello Sonata in A  
Keyboard Music: (Organ)  
Bach: Chorale Prelude "Durch Adams Fall" Brahms: Rhapsody, op. 119:4
(Piano) Liszt: Années de pèlerinage, "Italy"
Bach: WTC Book I: Debussy: Poissons d'Or
Prelude and Fugue in min. Ravel: Jeux d'Eau
Beethoven: Sonata op. 53 Schoenberg: Opus 33a
Schubert: Sonata in (posth.)  
Chopin: Sonata in min.  
Choral Music:  
Byrd: Mass in 5 voices Berlioz: Dies Irae from the Requiem
Machaut: Mass Verdi: Libera Me from the Requiem
Josquin: Pange Lingua Mass Dallapiccola: Canti di prigionia
Bach: Cantata No. 140, "Wachet Auf"  
Mozart: Requiem  
Purcell: Dido and Aeneas Mussorgsky: Boris Gudounov
Mozart: The Magic Flute Strauss: Salome
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde Ravel: L'Heure Espagnole
Songs and Other Works for Voice:
Schubert: from "Die Schöne Müllerin":
Schumann: "Dichterliebe," complete
Brahms: Der Tod das ist die kühle Nacht
Wolf: Der Gärtner
Gesang Weylas
Kennst du das Land?
Faure: Nell
Après un Rève
Berg: Altenberg Lieder
Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
Poulenc: Je Nommerai ton Front
Tu Vois le Feu du Soir (Miroirs Brulants Nos. 1 & 2)
Scarlatti, A.: Su le Sponde del Tebro
Mozart: 41 Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth)
Beethoven: 4, 8 Sibelius: 5
Schubert: 9 Copland: 3
Berlioz: Romeo and Juliet Webern: Opus 21
Brahms: 3 Sessions: 2
(Piano) (Violin) (Miscellaneous)
Beethoven: 4 Berg Mozart: Serenade in
Brahms: 2 Schönberg for 13 wind instruments K.361
Prokofieff: 3   Poulenc: Organ, in g
Other Orchestral Works:  
Strauss: Death and Transfiguration Britten: Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes
Fauré: Pélleas and Mélisande Suite Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste
Janacek: Sinfonietta Rathaus: Prelude for Orchestra, op. 10
Stravinsky: Agon  
Chamber Music:  
Bach: Sonata no. 6 for Violin and Hpschd. Bartok: String Quartet No. 6
Mozart: Quintet in for Piano and Winds (K.452) Hindemith: Woodwind Quintet
Beethoven: Quartet opus 131 (Kleine Kammermusik, op. 24:2)
Schubert: Trio in op. 99 Stravinsky: Octet for Winds
Brahms: Piano Quintet in f Sessions: String Quartet No. 2
Debussy: Sonata for violin and piano Stockhausen: Zeitmasse for five woodwinds
Ravel: Trio Perle: Quintet
Keyboard Music:  
Bach: WTC, Bk. I: Scriabin: Sonata No. 9
Prelude and Fugue in min. Schoenberg: Opus 11
Chopin: Scherzo, op. 20 Copland: Variations
Liszt: Sonata in b Barber: Sonata op. 26
Debussy: Voiles Ives: Concord Sonata
Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin  
Choral Music:  
Vivaldi: Gloria Brahms: German Requiem
Bach: St. Matthew Passion, Pt. I Honegger: King David
Beethoven: Missa Solemnis Janequin: La Battaille
  Lassus: Matona mia cara
  O Ià, o chebon eccho
  Gesualdo: Moro lasso al mio duolo
Handel: Julius Caesar
Rossini: Barber of Seville
Verdi: Otello
Wagner: Die Meistersinger, Prelude and Act III
Debussy: Pelleas & Melisande, Act III
Menotti: The Consul
Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
Weisgall: The Stronger
Songs and Other Works for Voice:
Monteverdi: Madrigals: Amor-Lamento della ninfa
Io mi son giovinetta
Zefiro torna
Le Lagrime d'Amante (first 2 parts)
Schubert: from "Die Winterreise":
Gute Nacht
Die Krähe
Die Post
Der Leiermann
Brahms: Four Serious Songs
Debussy: Fêtes Galantes, Pt. I, first three songs
Franz: Im Herbst; Widmung
Strauss: Zueignung
Webern: Four Songs, op. 12
Copland: Poems of Emily Dickinson (first four)
Boulez: Le marteau sans maître
Dallapiccola: Cinque Frammenti de Saffo
Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge
Early Music:
Review for purposes of period and style recognition (rather than for identification of specific works):
Parrish-Ohl: Masterpieces of Music before 1750
Parrish: A Treasury of Early Music
Davison-Apel: Historical Anthology of Music
Revised: October, 1963


Since its public debut in Columbus, the Queens List has stirred up a gentle breeze . . . at least. Requests for copies have come from as far west as Chicago and as far South as Northern New Jersey. Several colleges have adopted and/or adapted it. Questions and comments regarding it usually fall into the following three categories:

1. What governed the choice of pieces on the list?

2. How precisely is it employed as a testing device? . . . as a pedagogical tool? How do you impress students with the importance of the tests results? Does anyone actually fail and what does failure mean?

3. Don't you find that in preparing for the examination the student wears out the first half-inch of each record? Won't the student be tempted to employ the horrendous grammar school ponemonic practice of "dittying"? ("This is the / symphony that / Schubert wrote but never / finished/ /" or "Ma-harch / Slav Ma-harch / Slav —/ —by the /Russ-ian? Tschai-cow / ski —/ /" etc.) Can the "learning" the list is supposed to engender be anything but a superficial effort at easy recognition at the expense of careful study and thorough analysis?

Makeup of the List

It may clear the air straight off to say that at Queens we maintain a proprietary interest in the principle of the list and an utterly unpossessive attitude about the individual works thereon. We try to omit no major composer, style period or type of piece. We revise the list frequently (usually when our mimeograph stock is depleted). We argue passionately about what piece belongs and what doesn't. Secretly we are all pleased to be examiner rather than examinee and at the same time, wish we had been put through a similar torture as undergraduates. The point is that the presence or absence of any particular composition is of no consequence. The list contains many an old war horse, but it is not intended to be a collection of "300 masterpieces of music." It contains numerous key works in music history, but has no pretensions of being a historical anthology. It is related to no specific music course, but embraces, and in some respects goes beyond, them all. To the question: "How could one possibly omit this Mahler symphony or that Bach cantata, or Mr. So-and-so's 16th Wind Octet?" the only possible response is that So-and-so's 14th String Septet will have to do, that Mahler and Bach are otherwise represented and that it matters not at all. The vital thing is that the list's comprehensiveness insures against serious gaps in the students' listening experience. These gaps occur through disinclination, ignorance, or pure chance. We have all met the pianist who has gone through college as a music major without ever meeting a Bartok Quartet face to face; or the bassoonist a Beethoven Trio . . . the soprano a Bach Partita . . . the violinist a Fauré song, no matter how fine the curriculum!

How the List Is Employed

Music majors are presented with the entire list as entering freshmen and are advised that they will be examined on the appropriate section thereof at the end of each school year. The examination is in two parts. Part I, Recognition, consists in playing recorded excerpts of one to two minute duration from some thirty selections on the list, which the student must identify by giving composer, work and movement, if possible. The excerpt may be chosen from any portion of any movement, but a characteristic passage is usually included and intentional obfuscation avoided. Part II, Style Recognition, consists of five excerpts not on the list or taken from historical anthologies such as Parrish-Ohl. Here the student must answer the questions: who? when? what? why do you think so?

Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors who fail their examination must take it over the following year. Seniors need a passing grade in order to graduate; those who fail are given two reexamination opportunities and diplomas have been withheld for as much as a year and a half.

The Danger of Superficiality

The charge that this kind of list and test procedure can only lead to superficial learning is a grave one. Obviously, some students will cram for this examination as for any other and will have forgotten every note by the next morning. Other students find the process of more lasting value; to them it means many hours of purposeful listening to a varied and important group of pieces; it means developing the habit of listening; it often means discovering a great work of art for the first time. Many Freshmen will admit to hearing their first complete opera as a direct result of the list's existence. Others will describe exciting first encounters with a Perotin or a Monteverdi or Stravinsky piece that alone is worth the price of admission to any list-maker. The point here is that the Queens List is designed to acquaint the student with the literature of music and not to be a substitute for work done in analysis and music history courses. When the list and test procedure is thought of as a supplement to a rigorous music program, the charge of superficiality loses its validity.

In conclusion, we believe a) that the college music student should have a broad knowledge of the literature of music before being given the stamp of B.A. approval; b) that the best of college programs is likely to leave gaps in that knowledge; and c) that the Queens List helps bridge those gaps.

We do not insist that ours is the only or the best method of doing the job. We are constantly changing our list and procedures. While the overall effectiveness of our approach is not easily measurable, there is general agreement among students, graduates and faculty that it works, and works well. Ideally, the student welcomes the listening discipline as an essential element in his musical maturation; at worst, he passively experiences the exposure and profits from it in spite of himself.

1The required curriculum has been very recently considerably liberalized.

2For example, in September, 1963, the Comprehensive Examination, Division of the Arts, included the following:

a) Literature. Read and be prepared for questions on Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, John Dryden, Alexander's Feast, J. Conrad, Allmayer's Folly and B. Brecht, The Good Woman of Setzuan.
b) Art. View and analyze thoroughly: At the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Gauguin, Ia Orana Maria; Monet, Rouen Cathedral and La Grenouillière; At the Museum of Modern Art: Rousseau, The Sleeping Gypsy and The Dream, Gauguin, The Moon and the Earth, Monet, Water Lilies. In addition, the following books should be consulted: R. Goldwater, Paul Gauguin, J. Rewald, Paul Gauguin and J. Bouret, Henri Rousseau.
c) Music. Listen to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and review Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Read chapter on Mahler in Machlis' Introduction to Contemporary Music and chapter on Rimsky-Korsakov in Machlis' Enjoyment of Music.
d) Speech. Study the following: Hallsham's "The Toast of Democracy: Not a System of Government But a Principle of Action" in Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XXIX . . . and Hallstein's "The European Economic Community: We Have to Go Forward" in Vital Speeches, XXIX. Read Aristotle Rhetoric, Bk. I, Chs. 1 to 8 inclusive.

It should be added that this examination is graded by skilled readers of professorial rank from outside the College; their critical reports have served, on occasion, as springboards for the re-evaluation of teaching effectiveness.

11255 Last modified on November 14, 2018