The recent addition of the "Great Courses" is, for me like an invitation to a great feast! Starting with this unbelievable "dish". Robert Greenberg is a great teacher. I have no musical training or ability, just appreciation, but I can now hold my own in a discussion of music and composers. Prof. Greenberg is able to put music in a historical context as well as the personalities of the composers. His excitement for telling the "story" draws you in and keeps you wanting more. You may find yourself wanting to learn more about the history of a country, the food, the literature, etc, just because you had a taste of the music. There is truly nothing better than a great "story" well told! I am so pleased the Teaching Company has found and featured world class instructors so you and I can enjoy the learning! And I am overjoyed they are now available at Audible! I just can not say enough about this awesome course, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Wish you knew even more about the back story, you will love this book. I listened to this book in two sittings, and would have enjoyed more. A glimpse into the way art is "made" or not. I especially loved the story about the "old guy and his treasures". This is a day in the life of a treasure hunter and how he goes about the discovery, and more besides. Sit back and enjoy.
This story focuses on 'netsuke', tiny Japanese carvings which were fashionable in Paris during La Belle Epoque. The narrative wanders among the lives of the family who owned a particular collection of netsuke through Paris, Vienna and Tokyo with a few stops in other cities for background. Because the family was one of the wealthy Jewish banking families of the late 19th century and early 20th century, the story of the 'netsuke' illuminates some of the significant political, economic and cultural trends in which the family was involved,. In particular the role of the first Effrusi owner of the 'bibelots' in the high culture of Paris at the turn of the century is examined in letters and novels of the period. The story then travels to the transformation of Vienna from the capital of a splendid empire to the forefront of National Socialism, and makes a stop in the postwar period in Japan. The role of the objects we own and value is examined from multiple planes, much like through different sides of a prism.
I found the book very satisfying but found the performance frustrating at times. It was well read in terms of speed but the tone was at times overly dramatic. Also, the accent of the narrator was very pleasing and upper class (which matched the narrative) but he gets a bit carried away with the sound of his own voice and this sometimes distracted from the story. I have actually purchased a copy of the book because I would just like to read the story without the dramatic intonation. And despite sounding like he has an ear for languages, the narrator misprounounces a LOT of the foreign words, including 'netsuke'. If you listen to the podcast interview that follows the book, the pronunciation by the author and the interviewer makes it clear that it is mispronounced throughout the book. That was my only complaint with this recording. HIghly recommended book otherwise, especially for anyone interested in turn of the century culture and art.