This is my third listen from the Great Courses. All have been very good, but this one was absolutely wonderful. I can't recommend it highly enough. I am one of the least musical people I know. I have no musical training, and one of the worst tin ears I know. Robert Greenberg was both highly entertaining and very clear. He made me understand concepts that could not be more foreign to me.
For me, the course accomplished four things: 1) it explained concepts like polyphony, conjunct vs disjunct, and melisma, giving me a vocabulary to describe what I hear in a way I was never able to before.
2) it explained various musical forms and the rules they follow, allowing me to know what I should be listening for in a particular piece of music, so that I can actually follow along instead of just listening and saying "that's pretty."
3) it provided an overview of the history of western music, with all of its different periods, what each contributed to music theory, and what each was philosophically about.
4) it exposed me to enough actual works of music that I was able to decide which periods (The Romantic), composers and works (too many to name here) appeal to me, and that I want to hear more of.
If there was one negative, it is a small one. The Audible editions of The Great Courses come without written materials. Since this course is a minimum of $350 on the GC website and I got it for my $15 credit, I can't say it was a bad decision. With most courses, I never even notice that the written materials are missing. With this one, while I still found it very easy to follow and enjoy, there were many times that I wished I had the materials. He would discuss notation and refer to the materials, for example. I would wonder how to spell terminology I only heard pronounced. Now that it's over, I definitely wish I could just glance through a list of all the composers and works I had heard throughout, to refresh myself as to which ones I wanted to listen to more. Still, the course was very easy to follow without them, and it was definitely a small price to pay for 95% off.
The professor has a large number of other courses from the company, and I am actually tempted to immediately dive into another one. Since I already have a backlog of other courses I purchased in a sale, I am forcing myself to move on to something else. But I am certain I will be listening to more of his courses soon, and will almost certainly be listening to this one again in the future.
I have over 50 Teaching Company courses and this course is one the best. I'd rank it in the top 5 of all the TeachCo courses I have taken. Both educational and entertaining (frequently, downright funny), the course offers a broad survey of Western music starting in the Middle Ages up through the early 20th century.
I had listened to several of Professor Greenberg's other courses prior this one, and all of them are good. As a speaker, he has an engaging and accessible style, yet he is still able to deliver the pedagogic goods via inventive analogies and repetition, as needed, without making it feel dull or like you're in a classroom. (Or, if you are in classroom, it's like your favorite teacher of all-time.)
If you are interested in music and haven't experienced one of Professor Greenberg's courses, this is be a good one to start with because it will give you an idea of where you might like to dive deeper. I did it backwards, listening to some specific courses first (as an aside, the course on Bach is fantastic!) and then trying this survey course, but wish I had started with this one. Even as a survey, it is expansive - (48) 45-minute lectures - and greatly furthered my understanding of music.
Absolutely. Bloody. Marvellous.
Too many to single out. There were several moments that I considered "Aha-Erlebnisse", as experienced through Prof Greenberg's insights, naturally.
Jes' hisself, of course. The more you listen, the more you appreciate his humour and presentation.He has a genius for offering great insights against a background of light-hearted banter. And his enthusiasm is irresistible.
I've been a lover of "classical" music and opera all my life, but have had no formal training in music. Can't even read a damn note. In spite of this shortcoming, and regrettably unable to grasp some of the more subtle technical points, I've been able to follow the lectures in broad flow with pure pleasure. Many of his comments are "stunners", and I'm not joking. Just a single example: He remarks, after a glorious explanation of the passacaglia form as used by Bach, that the passacaglia can be regarded as a “metaphor for the invisible hand of God controlling the rich chaos of the everyday”. This just took my breath away (and not that I'm a believer). Old, and feeling depressed? Get this. Even better if you're young and your mind is still fresh.
Greenberg is passionate, lively, funny, and always crystal-clear.
I thought a lot of early music, including plain chant and the madrigal, were not for me. Boy was I wrong!
Almost every time he plays an excerpt that he's been describing, I'm moved.
I fell in love with great music rather late in the game, at age 22, without any knowledge. I've always steered clear of explanation and analysis, fearing that intellectualizing music would throw a wet blanket over my enjoyment. I was wrong. These lectures have increased my enjoyment enormously.
I have bought and listened about 20 audiobooks so far and without hasitate I can assure this is the best of all.
I consider myself as a complete music ignorant, though I like it. My previous audibooks where none of them about music nor art appreciation. I'm an engineer and without any prior music education.
Though this audibook gave the basis to start understanding great music. Gave me the basis to open my own road in music appreciation.
A phat and big round TEN for Robert Greenberg.
That is exactly what this audibook is: a story!
Robert Greenberg nailed it from the 1st chapter all along the last one. He explained with great humor, knowledge and humble, the human history and where every piece of music and composer fits. He explained the different ages with great detailed but never pretentious. This is the perfect formula for any person without any prior music knowledge to be involved in this wonderful world.
Robert's sense of humor, intelligent and even sarcastic comments
The moment I started understanding some Mozart's movements.
The moment I started to differentiate the inner structure of menuettos, sonatas, passacaglias, fuges, rondos, etc.. I started to realize that this was the perfect audiobook for a guy like me.
The moment my ipod started to be filled with classical, baroque, romantic music, operas and not just to hear them, but to own them.
This audiobook really moved me because I am not a passive listener any more, now I understand, now they are not Beethoven's, Mozart's, Debussy's any more, now I'm active, now they are mine.
I really want to thank Robert Greenberg for this wonderful work. I do not know him personally but I believe he changed me in a deep and aesthetical manner.
Absolutely, lots of insightful information
Guillaume de Machaut
I have listened to classical music all my life, but never really had a deep knowledge of its forms or history. This lecture series has given me a much deeper understanding and greatly broadened my musical pallet.
I especially enjoyed the history of ancient music.
As someone with no music background, I am very pleased with the lecture. Although it would be nice if I have the printed guide or summary while listening so I can go back to some chapters that I needed to listen again.. I am planning to listen again, although I bought several of the other lectures... I am a slow to grasp the lectures but I guess If I listen to it again and again, maybe it will help...
This course is fantastic for anyone interested in great music on any level. Professor Greenberg takes you on a journey that feels like you're actually there and makes it fun with laughs and surprises along the way. I found myself going back and reviewing several portions a second and third time without annoyance because the stories are enjoyable over again.
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His lecture provides a basic understanding of Western "classical" music (he prefers the term "concert" music), along with a heavy dose of Prof. Greenberg's personal preferences. Nonetheless, his lecture style may appeal to some and turn off others -- like a heavy spiced curry, you're likely to either love it or hate it. For example, he says "my friends" when introducing new points in his lectures. This happens a lot.
Prof. Greenberg's lecture style wears a little thin if you batch-listen to the lectures -- they are better spaced out. Like my art history teachers in school, his explanation of history not within his field of expertise is oversimplified to the point of being misleading -- if you studied Western history in some detail, you may find some of his somewhat old-fashioned understanding of change in European history a turn-off. This is most egregious in his first lecture, where he discounts all music in the non-Western tradition as unworthy of study because it did not change -- an assertion that would shock scholars of, say, Chinese operatic traditions, just to name one. But most folks will probably be fine with it, and you know who you are in either case.
One problem is that the course materials are not included with the purchase. Prof. Greenberg refers to these in passing several times, and it would be extremely helpful to have a copy handy for reference. It took all my creative googling skills to find the name of a medieval French song (it turned out to be written "Quant en moy" by the prolific Guillame de Marchaut) with only a knowledge of modern French to guide me (I had imagined "Contes en noir" in my head from only hearing it said briefly, so this took some time!). Having the course materials available would have made such searches much easier in tracking down recordings.
Professor Greenberg's lectures cover an incredible scope and make the history of Western music comprehensible. I learned an enormous amount and understood concepts e.g. 'key' and 'circle of 5ths' that I'd never completely understood before. Prof. Greenberg brought the composers to life and introduced me to many I barely knew and I enjoyed the many anecdotes he shared about the personal lives of the great composers.
Professor Greenberg - for his erudition, his passion and his playfulness. I so enjoyed his lectures that I have now purchased another series.
Well, yes - it certainly kept my interest and I looked forward to my daily listening.