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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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  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 12-10-13
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 12-10-13 Member Since 2013

    BJS

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you want to learn about the history of music .."
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition the most enjoyable?

    Professor Greenberg loves has a passion for music and you know this with every word he speaks, he also makes the information fun. I laughed out loud a few times as well. This is like taking a 36 hour college course. You can't sit down and listen to more than 4 chapters at a time, but you'll want to because of Professor Greenberg.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Professor Greenberg....LOL


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

    Himself.


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

    Couldn't do it.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a wonderful course, however like any college course you really don't want to take it again. One listen is more than enough to teach you quite a bit about ancient to modern music and Professor Greenberg makes it easy to get the knowledge.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wade Johnson 09-30-15
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    "Mind melted"

    With an undergrad in Music, I thought going into this would be a lot of repeat of things already known. I couldn't have been more wrong. Fascinating stuff. Beware though, 48 lectures can be quite a bit to take for the novice.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin A. Gower Point Pleasant, NJ USA 01-09-15
    Robin A. Gower Point Pleasant, NJ USA 01-09-15 Member Since 2011

    Robin

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    "Understanding enhances pleasure"

    Perfect balance of explanation and demonstration. Learned, genial teacher makes difficult ideas accessible. The pieces studied will be "owned" forever by the student.

    2 of 2 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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-10-15
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-10-15 Member Since 2008

    I am retired and I love having more time for audio books. I also enjoy hiking, birding, gardening, and genealogy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sid Bhat 09-26-15
    Sid Bhat 09-26-15
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    "The best professor for music appreciation or any other subject!"

    I feel fortunate to have learned from Prof. Greenberg, for I have a habit of starting new things and losing interest. It is because of him and only him that I have mastered this course. I have even read his notes and done a repeat of listening to his lectures, which is unprecedented for somebody like myself who suffers from ADHD. A personal 'thank you' to Prof. Greenberg for his mastery of the subject, his passion for teaching and his genuine empathy and generosity toward his students, even if faceless in this situation. Thank you, Sir!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Sepich 09-01-15
    Eric Sepich 09-01-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Enjoyable to the End!"

    This course has really helped me learn and have a greater appreciation of western music throughout history. From music terminology to understanding the historical context, operas, concertos and other works make much more sense! The enthusiasm of Robert Greenberg helps you to understand the significance of the music. I look forward to going further in depth into specific composers and eras after listening to this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hermanji 08-10-15
    Hermanji 08-10-15 Member Since 2012
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    "A Music and History Master Class"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition the most enjoyable?

    All of the elements of this work contributed to its success. Professor Greenberg is a powerful teacher and profound scholar in that he takes us into the love of his life, and shares with us everything we ever wanted to know about music, how it works and why it is so indispensable and elemental to us.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Professor Greenberg breathed life into each historic character he has presented here, including the character of the music he introduces us to.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite moment is the course so far has been the reviving of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony for our listening ear. We are able to see the brilliant intention and architecture of Beethoven, rescued from the oblivion of its own success as an icon of our society.


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

    No. This is an audio book that shifts the Person of your being, because music changes us. If you give yourself to owning this work as Professor Greenberg has given himself to preparing it, you cannot possibly be the same person, and such changes take time. My words seem extravagant to our all too sophisticated "Talking Head" sound-bite sensitivities. However, we have trivialized our lives, and this work helps us back to a gravitas we thought lost forever.


    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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
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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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