Thus far 19,500 people have signed up for the video classes, which are due to begin on September 3. Biss is currently halfway though a 10-year project to release the complete Beethoven sonatas – Volume 2 was released in January this year.
The five-week course, named ‘Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas’, is not for the faint-hearted, involving an estimated workload of 1-2 hours per week, regular deadlines and recommended reading and listening, personally chosen by Biss. The Coursera system makes extensive use of interactive exercises: video lectures frequently stop, and students are asked to answer questions to test whether they are taking in and understanding the material. It is not necessary to have studied an instrument or to have any prior knowledge of music theory, however, and each student who completes the course will receive a statement of accomplishment.