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
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.
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.
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.
Professor Robert Greenberg himself as the lecturer. He combines depth of knowledge with enthusiasm and a polished presentation style. Always interesting.
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.
I plan to use my upcoming credits on more lectures by Dr. Greenberg. Fiction has become too boring.
webmaster - technical writer
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.
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.
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.
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.
I can't wait to proceed with the Great Courses 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.
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.
Professor Greenberg does a wonderful job of taking us back in time to explore Bach, and his compositions. You get a good sense of the environment Bach lived in and what his life must have been like. There are also plenty of music examples along the way too. You even get to explore some of the structural formula used in Bach's music and Baroque composition in those days. Understanding some of the structural components behind Bach's composition such as fugue and counterpoint will leave you with a deeper understand and new appreciation for the Mastery hidden Bach's compositions.
My first attempt to break into the world of really enjoying music came when my husband bought. The Concert Masterworks. Until then, I knew my favorite music was Bach’s and Mozart came second and Beethoven and Vivaldi and Teleman were in there somewhere. I was pretty much a Baroque girl. When I listened to the first two lectures, I realized I was missing a lot. So, I got the How to Listen and Understand Great Music. Loved it. Listened until I got to the Classical Period and went back and did Bach and the High Baroque. Then on with the Classical Period--which I have not finished yet because I did Great Masters: Mozart and am about to start The Concerto. And then, either The Chamber Music of Mozart or The Symphony. I am enjoying Dr. Greenberg’s expertise and attitude so much that I keep diving down new rabbit holes!
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.
I own the audio version of all Greenberg's courses. This is my favorite, followed closely by Wagner.
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.
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.
One of the best, if not the best, in terms of quality, entertainment and educational value.
The St.Matthew's Passion and Goldberg Variations lessons are a real tour-de-force.
His entertaining, quirky, lecture style.
It made me joyful.
Get it. It will change your life. No,seriously.
Studied early music (baroque period) and church music as a college student and then worked in high tech for 30 years.
Yes, if they are new to Bach or novices in Baroque music.
Yes. It covers enough general background on Bach and high Baroque to be a good introduction to many.
Many music examples.
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.
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.
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