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Bach and the High Baroque | [The Great Courses]

Bach and the High Baroque

Though unappreciated in his own time, Johann Sebastian Bach has ascended to Olympian heights, the verdict of contemporary audiences long since overruled by succeeding generations of music lovers. But what makes his music great? In this series of 32 lectures, a working composer and musicologist brings his exceptional teaching skills to the task of helping you hear the extraordinary sweep of Bach's music. You'll understand the compositional language that enabled him to compose such extravagant, unbridled music while still maintaining precise control of every aspect - beat, melody, melodic repetition, interaction, and harmony.
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Publisher's Summary

Though unappreciated in his own time, Johann Sebastian Bach has ascended to Olympian heights, the verdict of contemporary audiences long since overruled by succeeding generations of music lovers. But what makes his music great? In this series of 32 lectures, a working composer and musicologist brings his exceptional teaching skills to the task of helping you hear the extraordinary sweep of Bach's music. You'll understand the compositional language that enabled him to compose such extravagant, unbridled music while still maintaining precise control of every aspect - beat, melody, melodic repetition, interaction, and harmony. Whether devoted admirer or casual listener, you'll gain a new appreciation of the composer and a heightened skill at listening to his work.

You begin by learning the musical traditions and composers that inspired Bach, and how he absorbed those influences to become the transcendent composer of the High Baroque, more representative of the period and its aesthetic of emotional extravagance and technical control than any other. And you'll learn how both his German Lutheran heritage and family background - at least 42 relatives professionally involved with music - helped shape him as an artist.

Above all, though, you experience an abundance of music, with Professor Greenberg highlighting his discussions by playing major excerpts from several of Bach's most important works - including the Brandenburg Concerto no. 2, the Goldberg Variations, and the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - and also showing you how to compare Bach with other composers both before and after his time.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©1995 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1995 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Flapjack NC, USA 07-14-13
    Flapjack NC, USA 07-14-13 Member Since 2007

    Flapjack Jones

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Depth and Entertainment"

    I am only 25% in and I have to write a short review. If you have even a passing interest in Bach, this will magnify your enjoyment of the music! I can tell this is going to be one of my favorite non fiction listens in 5 years of Audible.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miss DIckens SAN RAMON, CA, United States 09-07-13
    Miss DIckens SAN RAMON, CA, United States 09-07-13

    Miss Dickens

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    "Bach Treasure Box Opened by a True Enthusiast"
    If you could sum up Bach and the High Baroque in three words, what would they be?

    Apart from one or two Toccata and Fugues, I really could not "hear" Bach. Professor Robert Greenberg has enabled me hear Bach's music, and has turned me into a Bach enthusiast. Professor Greenberg is a gifted lecturer who imparts both knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject. He is also a charismatic lecturer. I am so glad the Great Courses have been added to Audible. They are not only educational, they make a refreshing change from current fiction of all genres, which for the most part has become predictable and mostly uninteresting.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Johann Sebastian Bach, because of his prodigious talent and productivity. Bach's life is a clear demonstration that genius can be applied to the demands of the workaday life.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Robert Greenberg – was your favorite?

    Professor Robert Greenberg himself as the lecturer. He combines depth of knowledge with enthusiasm and a polished presentation style. Always interesting.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but it is way to long, and the subject matter to meaty to be listened to in a single sitting. This is an audio product that I will listen to over and over again.


    Any additional comments?

    I plan to use my upcoming credits on more lectures by Dr. Greenberg. Fiction has become too boring.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth J. Mcclure San Jacinto, CA United States 08-10-13
    Ruth J. Mcclure San Jacinto, CA United States 08-10-13 Member Since 2013

    webmaster - technical writer

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    "Changed my life--better than my college courses"
    Would you listen to Bach and the High Baroque again? Why?

    Absolutely. Not only do I get to enjoy my favorite Bach pieces, but I get to learn about Bach, his background, the baroque era and musical styles and theories. And: with the help of modern technology, I get to listen to this superb course while gardening or performing household chores. I listened first to this course over stereo bluetooth headphones or speakers and that inspired me to order cables to run the sound through my Bose systems so I can listen wherever I am. I have already repeated many sections just because I enjoy the music and the professor's discussion so much that I hate to move on and want the course to last as long as possible.


    What other book might you compare Bach and the High Baroque to and why?

    The obvious comparison would be other books in the The Great Courses series, either the broader survey courses or the specific genre courses (symphony, concert, jazz, etc). There are not that many books that offer both music samples as well as discussions about the music, composer, and the background of both.


    What does Professor Robert Greenberg bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His enthusiasm, sense of humor, examples, but most of all, his judicious selection of music samples and detailed discussed of the samples. He is very down to earth and has a very pleasant voice.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I thought I had died and gone to heaven within the first few minutes of listening. My favorite music, favorite composer, great sound, and a friendly, intelligent voice to discuss it all. This is the most worthwhile book credit I ever used.


    Any additional comments?

    I can't wait to proceed with the Great Courses series.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 01-16-14
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 01-16-14 Member Since 2003
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    "Understanding Bach"

    Is there anyone else out there who like me has always appreciated Bach's music? I consider Bach one of the absolutely best classical composers (alongside Beethoven), and his music has always inspired me and provided great satisfaction.

    If you have that background, this is really something for you. The courses are insprining and the narrator is enthusiastic about his topic, and he knows it very well. I advise you to listen one course at the time, then listen to some Bach music in between and then go on to the next course. If you try to take in all at the same time, it will be too much.

    One thing that bugs me, however, is that professor Greenberg does not know how to pronounce Bach's name, at least not to a listener who like me speaks German. His consistent incorrect (=American) pronounciation ("Bock") could lead to the wrong conclusion that the good professor does not know what he is talking about. But he does and he is good at it, even though his German is deplorable (his Italian and French are possibly worse). A little language exercise: try to figure out who the composers "Wiwolde" and "Cooperand" are? (That is the way these baroque composers names are pronounced in this book).

    So a really good course is tainted by bad language. However, if you can live with that, don't hesitate to buy this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Douglas Jensen Natick, MA USA 07-22-14
    E. Douglas Jensen Natick, MA USA 07-22-14 Member Since 2001

    Doug Jensen

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    "World's best speaker, stimulating, authoritive"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Bach and the High Baroque to be better than the print version?

    I have the text version but use it only to look up specific things from the lectures. The audio version is so absolutely flawless and so stimulating, the print version is much less interesting.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    J.S. Bach


    Have you listened to any of Professor Robert Greenberg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I own the audio version of all Greenberg's courses. This is my favorite, followed closely by Wagner.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    25 hours? No, I don't think so. I have listened to the whole 25 hours TWICE and gotten additional understanding the second time--and re-enjoyed it all.


    Any additional comments?

    Even with a BA in music, this course was filled with massive amounts of fascinating things about Bach and the High Baroque. Buy every Greenberg course--I recommend audio over print, and the DVDs are not worth the slight added value for the price.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Winston Salem, NC, United States 05-22-14
    William Winston Salem, NC, United States 05-22-14
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    "Love this series"

    While I enjoyed these Bach lectures, I didn't like them as much as the Stravinsky and Shostakovich lectures by Greenberg because of a surfeit of Music 101. There were times when I wish he would have said, "Anyone who ever took Music Theory and got a C+ or better can skip to the next lecture." But I guess when you're talking about Bach you can't assume everyone knows how a fugue works or what secondary dominants are or how many strings are on a violin. In spite of all that, Greenberg's presentation of the Goldberg Variations was fabulous, and I will listen to those four lectures again. Greenberg is a charming lecturer, and you want to invite him over for beers and small talk about Bartók.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roland Toronto, ON, Canada 05-16-14
    Roland Toronto, ON, Canada 05-16-14 Member Since 2010
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    "It will turn you into a lifelong Bach devotee"
    Where does Bach and the High Baroque rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best, if not the best, in terms of quality, entertainment and educational value.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Bach and the High Baroque?

    The St.Matthew's Passion and Goldberg Variations lessons are a real tour-de-force.


    What does Professor Robert Greenberg bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His entertaining, quirky, lecture style.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me joyful.


    Any additional comments?

    Get it. It will change your life. No,seriously.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lute player CA USA 03-08-14
    lute player CA USA 03-08-14 Member Since 2007

    Studied early music (baroque period) and church music as a college student and then worked in high tech for 30 years.

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    "Good introduction"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, if they are new to Bach or novices in Baroque music.


    Would you recommend Bach and the High Baroque to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes. It covers enough general background on Bach and high Baroque to be a good introduction to many.


    What does Professor Robert Greenberg bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Many music examples.


    Was Bach and the High Baroque worth the listening time?

    Yes, I wish it had more depth into the life of Bach. Maybe that is a different book, but it wasn't deep enough biographically or musically for my taste.


    Any additional comments?

    It's unfortunate that a "secular humanist" choose to do a lecture series on a man who was as devout as Bach. The authors' bias comes across a number of times.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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