Fairy Tales: Music and Magic

Four Tuesdays, September 7, 14, 21, and 28 at 6:30 p.m. | Mirabeau, 3202 Argonne (One block east of Kirby, one block south of Alabama, behind Borders Bookstore)

During its upcoming season, the Houston Symphony Orchestra will perform many musical compositions inspired by fairy tales, such as Bartók’s The Wooden Prince and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid, and Stravinsky’s Firebird. As a prelude and accompaniment to the orchestra’s concerts, the Houston Seminar offers four presentations on the power and magic of fairy tales, which will be a golden thread of enchantment running through the symphony’s 2004–2005 season.

September 7: Robert Patten, the Autrey Professor in Humanities at Rice University, will discuss fairy tales in the nineteenth century and will track the origin of the tale as a literary phenomenon and indicate the reasons for its proliferation and influence in Europe.

September 14: Hans Graf, music director of the Houston Symphony, will speak to us on the centrality of fairy tales to the great orchestral music of the later nineteenth century, when, according to Maestro Graf, “a newly psychological view transformed Western thought and art.” Maestro Graf will focus particularly on Bela Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, in which the composer looked deeply into the dark side of the human heart. Graf will illustrate the links among Bartók’s personal life, the intellectual currents of the time, and the Bluebeard tale, using pre-recorded musical examples.

September 21: Jean Goodwin, a published psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute, will discuss the psychological implications of fairy tales, and ways they relate to child abuse and abandonment. One of her subjects will be Snow White.

September 28: J. Pittman McGehee, Jungian analyst, director of the Broad Acres Center, and a priest of the Episcopal church, will present the archetypal images and ideas contained in fairy tales and residing at the unconscious level of the human mind across many cultures. He will focus on the tale of Bluebeard.



Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez October 26-29, 2019 you may access the itinerary, trip cost, and registration documents here.

If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


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For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.