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How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition | [The Great Courses]

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

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.
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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.

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.

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

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  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-10-15
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-10-15 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

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    "It Doesn't Get Any Better!"

    I've spent the last four weeks immersed in this Great Course. I feel like I am coming away a changed, better person--enlightened, with my interest in classical music rekindled. I took an elective course in college many years ago, music listening, but I haven't experienced this type of music since then, with very few exceptions. This course changed all that.

    Professor Greenberg is simply amazing. I feel really privileged to have the chance to listen to his 48 lectures. He is sharp as a tack--brilliant, actually. And he brings to it such enthusiasm and such a love of music! Add to this a sharp sense of humor that is ever-present and which gave me so many little bursts of laughter through out this marathon listen.

    To add to the enjoyment of listening to great music excerpts, Professor Greenberg tells anecdotes of the individual composers' lives. This made them come alive for me--they were not just names to associate with music but actual people struggling with life like all of us. Very colorful people, indeed. How can I ever forget the story of Hector Berlioz' lusting romance with his "Henriette?" How can I not want to listen to the music of Liszt after learning his story?

    Greenberg has succeeded here. I strongly recommended this audiobook if you want to reignite your interest in great music. It is educational but also pure fun!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 03-20-15
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 03-20-15 Member Since 2009

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

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    "Greenberg Is Better as Dim Sum"

    I've enjoyed and endured a few of Professor Greenberg's courses and have come to the conclusion that he is best enjoyed in small portions. Also, the audio format works better than the video for me.

    My first Greenberg was his well-presented opera appreciation course. While I found the yucks annoying, I still enjoyed the course and consequently developed a love of opera.

    Having enjoyed that series so much, I ventured into other Greenberg territory and discovered a very mixed bag. His Wagner course is awful. His Stravinski lectures are pretty good. The Shostakovich lectures are wonderful. I bought his Verdi series a long time ago and struggle to complete it.

    So what makes this guy so annoying to me? The yucks upon yucks. No, not everything needs to be deadpan serious but when you get a huge set of lectures like this one, you have to consider how much time is wasted per lecture on very low brow jokes. Add to that the canned applause, music preceding each lecture, the repetition of every title by the narrator followed by Greenberg and you've got enough padding to build another Kim Kardashian. Yuck yuck. Add to that, his use of the royal 'we' as in "we quote...." and the whole presentation gets a bit nauseating.

    There is a lot of great material in every Greenberg course but the jokes and the pompous phrasing grate on the nerves. So I deduct stars.

    Ok, so again, why the low rating? Much of this material is found in the other courses I've taken by Bob GreenMountain. That makes sense as the mini courses cover the important composers who will be a part of a larger appreciation course.

    I prefer more time be spent on teaching the music and terminology. If I want the biographical background, I can get it from one of his "Life and Works of ..." courses.

    As much as his style annoys me, until the Great Courses offers an alternative to Greenberg, I'll have to recommend him if I want to promote the humanities. I do.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David S Doty Austin, TX United States 10-13-14
    David S Doty Austin, TX United States 10-13-14 Member Since 2012
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    "The most illuminating Great Course I've heard yet"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tony mancill 08-06-14
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    "One of the best Great Courses out there!"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thosigmar 07-13-14
    Thosigmar 07-13-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A mind-enriching listening experience"
    If you could sum up How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition in three words, what would they be?

    Absolutely. Bloody. Marvellous.


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

    Too many to single out. There were several moments that I considered "Aha-Erlebnisse", as experienced through Prof Greenberg's insights, naturally.


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Myers Beautiful Taos, NM 11-15-13
    Mark Myers Beautiful Taos, NM 11-15-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Everything I could want in a music course"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition the most enjoyable?

    Greenberg is passionate, lively, funny, and always crystal-clear.


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

    I thought a lot of early music, including plain chant and the madrigal, were not for me. Boy was I wrong!


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

    No.


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

    Almost every time he plays an excerpt that he's been describing, I'm moved.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eliu Montoya Mariscal Mexico, Mexico Mexico 10-02-13
    Eliu Montoya Mariscal Mexico, Mexico Mexico 10-02-13

    DaReader

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    "From hiphop to orchestral music"
    Where does How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Robert's sense of humor, intelligent and even sarcastic comments


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donn Patton WA United States 07-28-13
    Donn Patton WA United States 07-28-13 Member Since 2012

    Donn

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A fascinating, entertaining, and informative jour"
    Would you listen to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition again? Why?

    Absolutely, lots of insightful information


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Guillaume de Machaut


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

    n/a


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    n/a


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    catherine davis 05-22-15
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    "Why 3star overall and 5star performance and story?"
    Any additional comments?

    This is why I downgraded the overall rating:
    Contrary to the disclaimer posted at the bottom of Audible's description, the supplemental texts that are not included ARE essential!

    At least for me, maybe others can do without...
    I started classical piano at 5 and took lessons thru my junior year of college. I was not a music major and did not take any theory courses. What I know about music is through piano. So now decades later, I am VERY interested in the nuts and bolts of other types of classical music.

    After listening to a few of these lectures, I had to stop. I couldn't mentally comprehend, much less organize and retain, the information coming at me. I needed the lesson outlines, the full technical names of the music excerpts, to see the sung words in both original language and English translation. And this is just speaking of the first six lectures. There is so much more!

    How do I know what I was missing? I hit online sources for used books and finally found a cheap standalone copy of the guidebook. Now I see the course as one I will enjoy for years to come. Should I want to re-listen to his discussion of, say, 'Minuet and Trio Form', I can look in the table of contents for the lecture number(s) - this topic takes two lectures. But once I know they are #20 and #21, I can click forward 20 clicks (on a nano) to get to the lecture. (As others have brought up, a 36 hour file is horrible to try to skim through.) And I have additional material in the guidebook for reference as well. I am happy now.

    Someone's review referred to 'The Modern Scholar' series which includes an Adobe file download of the course guide with the Audible version. I think it would be wonderful if Great Courses would do the same. However, the price of these courses would probably go up drastically if they did. The Mod. Sch. courses mostly run 6 - 12 hours, and the one I looked at specifically had an 80 page guidebook. In comparison, the guidebook for this Greenberg course is 320 pages.

    So for now, given the HUGE discount from retail (and even from most sale and secondary market) prices for these music courses, I will most likely continue to purchase them here. They are wonderful! But only when I have located a guidebook from somewhere else. There is too much I want to get from these courses to approach them more casually.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rpophessagr 05-19-15
    rpophessagr 05-19-15
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    "I've always wanted to develop a better appreciation for great music"

    This is has been a wonderful first step in that process. I will be getting more lectures.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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