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How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition Lecture

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition

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Publisher's Summary

Great music is a language unto its own, a means of communication of unmatched beauty and genius. And it has an undeniable power to move us in ways that enrich our lives - provided it is understood.

If you have ever longed to appreciate great concert music, to learn its glorious language and share in its sublime pleasures, the way is now open to you, through this series of 48 wonderful lectures designed to make music accessible to everyone who yearns to know it, regardless of prior training or knowledge. It's a lecture series that will enable you to first grasp music's forms, techniques, and terms - the grammatical elements that make you fluent in its language - and then use that newfound fluency to finally hear and understand what the greatest composers in history are actually saying to us.

And as you learn the gifts given us by nearly every major composer, you'll come to know there is one we share with each of them - a common humanity that lets us finally understand that these were simply people speaking to us, sharing their passion and wanting desperately to be heard. Using digitally recorded musical passages to illustrate his points, Professor Greenberg will take you inside magnificent compositions by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and more. Even if you have listened to many of these illustrative pieces throughout your life - as so many of us have - you will never hear them the same way again after experiencing these lectures.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Lee the reader 10-11-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful, I've wanted this for so long...but..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to be better than the print version?

    There is no print version!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Shall I say Beethoven? or Bach? :)


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

    I must have missed this.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Good music is always moving.


    Any additional comments?

    I've been wanting this for YEARS... but audible has made this affordable for me. MORE intellectual Teaching company! These Great Courses were the reason I signed up for audible initially, but have found so much more here.

    This is a marvelous course, and I will definitely purchase more by this professor. I spent my college years pursuing practical courses in my scientific field, so this is an opportunity for me to finally take the "I wish I could" classes, in a way, that I never was able to before. Thank you so much for offering these.

    However, I DO have one major problem....

    Please, audible, can you have your software let people break things up into chapters, or lectures? I download these, and to have 36 lectures break up into 6 parts (For example; for the first section is: 1-Music as a Mirror; Sources—The Ancient World and the Early Church; The Middle Ages; Introduction to the Renaissance; The Renaissance Mass; The Madrigal) - well, that's just impossible to search or list on my media player! When I want to go back and find an area, it's very difficult to find - the chapters are just very tiny increments apart on the "bar".

    The sections should be listed by lecture I can easily find what I am looking for, or at least an option should be given. This is a course, after all. Could they not be:

    1 - Music as a Mirror
    2 - Sources - The Ancient World and Early Church
    3 - The Middle Ages
    4- Introduction to the Renaissance
    5- The Renaissance Mass
    6- The Madrigal

    See how much nicer and cleaner? That would make me so much happier! I have the same problem with chapter books. I just listened to Anne of Green Gables (marvelous, by the way) and wanted to find the part where Anne dyed her hair green. It was so hard to do, as a 9 hour book is only in one piece! Please find a way to let us break the courses into smaller, more practical parts, such as by lecture and chapter.

    184 of 184 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WGQuixote STATEN ISLAND, NY, United States 09-23-13
    WGQuixote STATEN ISLAND, NY, United States 09-23-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Bravo Bob Greenberg"
    Any additional comments?

    As someone who has listened to more than 40 courses from the Great Courses series, this one is simply the best. Since music was not my main interest, I was reluctant to invest $100 in this course from the GC website but jumped when I saw it offered by Audible for 1 credit because Prof. Greenberg had been most highly rated (4.8) by those who purchased the course.

    I admit to being initially disappointed by the professor's more informal and expressive approach which seemed geared to college Freshmen accustomed to listening to Hip Hop on their I Pods. But by the second lesson I was hooked for several reasons. First, the man not only knows his music, he loves it and his enthusiasm is infectious. Second, he approaches this course more like a coach than a teacher: leading the listener step by step through the music selections, reviewing main points from earlier lectures to bring the listener back up to speed, and asking leading questions to keep the listener's head in the game. Third, his rants are entertaining whether they are making a point or settling a score with other musicologists and he has some killer throw away lines.

    The bottom line is that I now have the classical station preset on my car radio and, with a basic understanding of the approach of the composer and of the era of the music, I enjoy listening to it. Prof. Greenberg provides the key to understanding this music and I suspect that many of his students at Berkeley have also added Mozart and Verdi to their playlists.

    The only drawback is that the course notes are not included with the audio download. While this is not important for many of the Great Courses, it would be a valuable accompaniment to this course. But then again, with an $85 savings through Audible, this minor complaint, like Beethoven's Fifth, is resolved by Bob Greenberg's major accomplishment.

    58 of 59 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 08-14-13
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 08-14-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "FANTASTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCE"
    What did you love best about How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition?

    easy to understand and entertaining listen for a "non musical" person like me


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

    Prof Greenberg seems to be speaking directly to you - his speech is clear, interesting and very entertaining


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

    I certainly laughed ( must understand American humour )


    Any additional comments?

    I'm hooked! I've downloaded two more series ( opera and jazz )

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-14-13
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-14-13
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    "Enjoyed."
    Where does How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I never understood why people like classical music. The title delivered what it promised. I now have an appreciation of the music


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

    He has an enthusiasm for music which he shares. He shared the historical context of the music which gave it meaning in the
    Human experience


    Any additional comments?

    It was long but I had the time available for it.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eileen Hopkinton, MA, United States 12-17-13
    eileen Hopkinton, MA, United States 12-17-13 Member Since 2013
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    "So this is what musicians secretly know!"

    This was one fantastic audiobook! This is part of the the Great Courses lecture series and if you order it through Great Courses it would cost about $300. However, if you order it through Audible.com, it costs one credit, which is about $14.00. the only difference is that you don't receive the written course material, which might have come in handy on occasion but is not necessary to enjoy this incredible experience.

    So what is this great experience? It is nothing short of a 48 lecture course on, exactly as promised, how to listen to great music! Each lecture is 45 minutes, so that adds up to about 40 hours of listening time... quite a commitment. Robert Greenberg is a music professor who seems like the type of person that if you met him at party you would feel like you knew him your whole life. His enthusiasm for music is contagious. He is a great story teller and has a way of describing music in such a way that "it sticks".

    Like most great teachers, he tells you what he is going to teach, teaches it, then summarizes what he just taught. As he frequently says, music is a mirror of the time, so he adds historical insight into the description of the music. He doesn't try to cover everything, that would be impossible, but takes a longitudinal approach, beginning with the ancient world and quickly moves forward to the baroque,classical and romantic period. In the process he defines musical vocabulary that conductors, composers and music producers seem to think we all understand but don't. In the process he not only clarifies our ability to perceive what the composer's intent was in the creation of the music, but also helps us to understand their brilliance in making complexity seem so simple. You could say the same thing about Professor Greenberg himself... New Jersey native that he is, he has not lost his direct and irreverent manner of speaking, even while living in California.

    He is the only person who convinced me that I should really give opera a chance... I did... and sad to say... I still don't enjoy listening to the vocals, much as I like the orchestration. Each to his own, I guess.

    I would definitely order another one of these (he has many..). Makes for a much more enjoyable car ride.

    20 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cookie Anacortes, WA, United States 07-10-13
    Cookie Anacortes, WA, United States 07-10-13 Member Since 2014

    Cookie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Super Great Courses!"

    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!

    49 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 07-16-13
    Robin 07-16-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic deal!"

    I bought this series on cassette when my library was getting rid of all their cassettes. The material was excellent but the quality of the used cassettes was awful, I had to stop less than halfway through because it was so frustrating, I thought of purchasing the set on CD but the price was pretty high. Now I can hear it all in perfect condition at a great price!

    Robert Greenberg is smart and funny and presents the material in a way that is accessible to anyone. I'm delighted that we now get access to The Great Courses at our regular credit price!

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dielle 12-06-13
    Dielle 12-06-13 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The bar has been raised"

    I am in love with Professor Greenberg. I wish I had attended even one lecture in college as interesting, entertaining, and informative as this. And I want more. The others that I had hoped were similar just did not measure up. His wit mixed with his passion for his subject was wonderful. Now I'm going to add all his lectures to my wish list.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deep Reader 08-29-13
    Deep Reader 08-29-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Breaking New Grounds"

    There are very few books that seem to take advantage of audiobook technology as this one has. It is a lecture explaining the origin of music, as well as the developments and changes of schools of thought behind each form of music and how to develop an ear for it, with snippets of the music discussed broken down in each lecture to clarify the lecturer's point, followed by the full piece discussed at the end.

    I feel like I can understand music, even modern music, better.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-18-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Beginning to a Delinquent Education"

    I need to start this review with my background and motivation for my review to make sense in context. I would like to consider myself a fairly well-educated person holding multiple degrees from three different universities. Somehow, though, my education completely omitted anything involving music. Sure, I was required to take fine arts electives in high school and college, but I managed to miss music appreciation entirely. Needless to say, I have never picked-up an instrument, know next to nothing about music fundamentals, and have not one ounce of music talent or ability.

    This deficiency in my education never caused a problem until I learned that my daughter is required to learn an instrument and take music during middle school. Thankfully, my wife played an instrument through high school and has at least some ability to help my daughter as she starts this part of her education. I do not, however, like being ignorant and do not want to be in the position of being utterly clueless about what my daughter is learning. Thus, I am motivated for the first time in my life to learn at least something about music.

    I have experience with the Great Courses series and thought this would be the place to start my delinquent musical education. I am glad that I did. The professor uses a historical approach, which works well with the way that I think, and takes the student through Ancient Greek music all the way through the early part of the 20th Century. A complete list of the topics can be found on the Great Courses website.

    The professor presents the thesis throughout the course that music is a mirror of the people who composed it and the time in which it was created. This is a long course and requires a lot of dedication, but the professor slowly builds a vocabulary for the student helping someone like me with zero background begin to understand the way that music is composed. I will freely admit that much of what the professor explained still went over my head, and I frequently turned to Wikipedia for more background information. I decided as my next class to listen to the professor's course on Understanding the Fundamentals of Music to continue building on my knowledge.

    I bought many of the musical works he discussed in the class so I could listen to them in their entirety and see if I could pick-out some of the details learned from the course. I still feel like a near idiot, but I was proud of the progress I made. For instance, I can now listen to a traditional four movement symphony by Haydn or Mozart and understand why the second movement is typically slow and the fourth movement is typically fast. I can now provide a semi-intelligent answer to explain the stylistic differences between Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. If nothing else, I at least now know which came first. I still have a very long way to go, but I at least have a foundation on which to build. I can honestly say that I now have an interest in classical music (excuse me, to use the terminology from the course—"concert music") and appreciate listening to it, even if I am not yet picking up on all of the subtleties. The professor has not yet inspired me to go so far as listening to opera in my spare time, but I am now eager to learn more about music.

    If I have any complaint, it is that I would like more guidance on where to go from here. There are more than a dozen courses in the Great Courses collection by this same professor. It would be nice to have a recommendation at tend end on which courses to take in which order to build a good, solid foundation of musical understanding. I assume the music fundamentals course that I just started is a good second stop on this journey, but I wonder what the professor would recommend in terms of taking courses on specific composers, the class on the symphony, the class on great orchestral works, etc….

    As a closing note, I read criticisms of the professor in other reviews for his frequent, sometimes corny, jokes. I might be in the minority, but I actually liked most of his jokes because it made the material more relatable and kept the mood lighter, though, yes, the jokes can be corny at times. This is a course that could have very easily turned into a high-brow, hoity-toity snob-fest designed to intimidate the neophyte listener. The professor's casual, yet respectful, attitude kept that from happening. This was an excellent course for a complete beginner, and I imagine that someone with more background would get even more out of it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • S. Mercer
    Hamphsire, UK
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A treat for ears and heart"
    Would you consider the audio edition of How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to be better than the print version?

    Yes, although this is quite a loaded question. When talking about music the ability to listen to the actual pieces being discussed is infinitely better than reading about what the notes sound like.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition?

    Hearing Guillaume de Machaut's "Quant en moy" from the 14th century - it captivated me almost instantly and Greenberg's wonderful way of explaining it made me realise there is so much to music from previous ages I have little or no knowledge about.


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

    Not really applicable as this is no fictional "book". However, Professor Greenberg is the key to the whole course. His enthusiasm for the subject is embedded in every lecture and without him it would simply not work. Perfect mix between detail, humor and lecturing.


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

    I might want to but at 48 lectures it is simply too long! Also, pauses are highly recommended to reflect on the various topics.


    Any additional comments?

    Even though 48 lectures might sound daunting at first, I would recommend this course to anyone interested in learning more about (concert) music. What makes this course work is not just the way it is structured - leading through the history of music from ancient times to the early 20th century - but most of all the enthusiastic lecturer, Robert Greenberg.

    I found it a joy to listed to him and am now actively seeking out composers such as Josquin des Prez or Guillaume de Machaut. Before this course I had never heard of either of them. But also well known pieces become much more "understandable" (Beethoven's 5th, Hayden's symphonies, even Schoenberg!).

    Greenberg follows the simple (sounding) principle that music is a mirror of its time; he uses this guideline to explain music throughout the ages.

    It is not a cheap audiobook but this is where a credit becomes the payment of choice!

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • JOHN
    County Cork, Ireland
    4/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining and Informative"

    I was slightly apprehensive about downloading this course of 48 lectures. Would I be able to complete them all? Would they be too technical for a non-musician? I needn't have worried. Robert Greenberg is a wonderfully entertaining narrator whose enthusiasm for the music he is discussing is infectious and whose humorous asides and witty anecdotes often made me laugh out loud. The course is never boring. It helps one to hear the classics with new ears - for example, I will never be able to hear Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique again without being reminded of Erectile Dysfunction - as well as introducing the listener - well, this listener, at least - to music that would not exactly be top of the concert hall charts (I'm looking at you, Arnold Schoenberg). All in all, thoroughly enjoyable and very informative. I would recommend it to anyone keen to get a greater understanding of great music.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Blue Reviewer
    London
    11/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Best introduction into music"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. I never appreciated any form of concert music (see I've already leant not to call it classical) before. I was aware of nice melodies i had heard in everyday life; in tv commercials, in the movies etc. I knew it existed, but I never understood it. I can now proudly boast to know a little bit, and it made me seek this type of music out, and enjoy it.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the chronological presentation of the history of music from the simplicity of the early days the the more complex forms that developed over time. Each period is nicely explained and accompanied with significant non-musical historical stories which I knew nothing about. So in a way you also get a bit of a history lesson.


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

    Bach and Mozart


    Any additional comments?

    Life-enriching. Thank you.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • missfrizzy
    8/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An absolute triumph!"

    Words can't express how much I've enjoyed this course. Professor Green berg's enthusiasm for music is infectious.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • david
    4/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great for music lovers"

    I enjoyed listening to prof Greenberg, funny guy and very smart in his field which makes each chapter interesting.
    a well structured course enabled me to keep on top when tackling new genres.

    The downside however, having been drilled so hard about JS Bach and never once covered anything of Vivaldi.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A. L. Howell
    UK
    1/23/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding Lecture Programme"
    Would you listen to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition again? Why?

    Truly fantastic! I have just finished to this series of lectures (almost in one sitting - that how good the course was). Professor Greenberg is incredibly knowledgeable, as you would expect, but also hugely engaging. The structure of the lectures was absolutely right for me - without treating the audience as novices, Prof Greenberg manages to tell you all the stuff that you might not know, with subtlety, as well as all the stuff that you really want to know. The production is very polished without being too obviously so. I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about concert music and understand it better - it certainly worked for me. I shall be investing in many more of Professor Greenberg's courses.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition?

    Getting to understand the context in which great composers lived and worked.


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

    Not yet, but I certainly will be!


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Greatest Lecture Programme ever!


    Any additional comments?

    A big, big thank you to Robert Greenberg for taking the trouble to share his tremendous knowledge and experience with me in this way!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Barry
    Sidcup, United Kingdom
    8/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"
    Where does How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the most interesting, engaging and compelling listens that I've had.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The mixture of historical context and musical theory together with audible examples.


    What about Professor Robert Greenberg’s performance did you like?

    Greenberg's enthusiasm for his subject together with his humour.


    Any additional comments?

    Audible considers the additional course literature as "unnecessary" to listening to the course. I disagree. Certainly the word scores referred to would be invaluable.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • A Manning
    London
    3/19/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Only 1 chapter in and I'm adding a review!"

    I've only listened to 1 chapter so far and yet feel a desire to add a review already. The speaker is passionate, engaging and humorous. The content exciting and thought provoking.

    Whether my review will stay the same after the next 47 chapters I don't know. I haven't listened to audio books on music before and so this was a risk. One that I'm glad I took!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    United Kingdom
    4/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Listen and Learn"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition the most enjoyable?

    The Professor gave his lectures with humour and made them very enjoyable to listen to


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    It would depend on the subject - I only knew the popular classics so was intrigued to learn more


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

    Not a story as such although the story of the progression of music through the ages was the key (please pardon the pun) part of these lectures


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was continually frustrated by the snippets of music used as illustrations and usually wanted to hear more. I now have the task of tracking down some of the pieces to hear them in full


    Any additional comments?

    I was amazed to find how much I needed to know about music and am very pleased that I listened to this series of lectures

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Adisha
    United Kingdom
    11/21/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding music course"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook course and it's exhuberant presentation by Professor Robert Greenberg and highly recommend it to all lovers of classical music.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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