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
Absolutely. Bloody. Marvellous.
Too many to single out. There were several moments that I considered "Aha-Erlebnisse", as experienced through Prof Greenberg's insights, naturally.
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.
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.
Greenberg is passionate, lively, funny, and always crystal-clear.
I thought a lot of early music, including plain chant and the madrigal, were not for me. Boy was I wrong!
Almost every time he plays an excerpt that he's been describing, I'm moved.
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.
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.
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.
Robert's sense of humor, intelligent and even sarcastic comments
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.
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.
Absolutely, lots of insightful information
Guillaume de Machaut
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.
The information presented provides for a good general survey with sufficient depth to give one the knowledge to listen intelligently to great music.
Unfortunately, Professor Greenberg tries too hard to be funny. This is OK at first, but after about the 15th lecture it begins to wear thin. This series would have been so much better with a less "in your face" attempt at humor. Professor Greenberg needs to tone it down quite a bit.
I was going to download the more in depth lectures that give further insights into musical styles and composers, but in all honesty, I don't think I could take anymore of Professor Greenberg's artificial attempts at stand up comedy.
In conclusion, with less schtick, this would have been an outstanding general survey course.
Robert Greenberg was entertaining from beginning to end - all 48 lectures! So well informed, not just about the composers and their music, but also the historical context.
A rather comprehensive and deeply rewarding tour through Western concert music. The content strikes a perfect balance between history and a detailed description of musical forms. Prof. Greenberg is a delight.
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music is misnamed. It really should be labeled: The structure and form of Western Music. I don't really fault Professor Greenberg for this: it's quite clear to him that "Great Music" is restricted to those composed by Dead White People. I'll admit to mostly being a music philistine: I hated my piano lessons as a kid, and rarely understood the point of Mozart. I labelled all instrumental-only music as "classical".
Well, Professor Greenberg taught me a lot:
"Classical" music is actually a misnomer. There's "Baroque", "Classical", "Romanticism", and "Modernism." These labels apply to various epochs roughly corresponding to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Debussy. Each of these epochs had unique characteristics that were reflected in the music. I was actually surprised that I could learn this because at one point during the program Greenberg played a piece of music and asked the listener to guess what epoch it came from and I actually got it right.
Beethoven really does sound different from any composers before him. His music, unlike that which came before, actually does represent extra-musical content. I tested this by playing a Beethoven symphony to Bowen, who did promptly ask: "What does this music mean?" Which is not a question that usually comes up with other instrumental music.
Professor Greenberg is a fan of Opera. Despite his immense enthusiasm, I still can't stand it. Despite his picking what he thinks are great musical pieces to listen to, I'm afraid I agree with one of the characters in John Steakley's fabulous novel: "Opera is for vampires. The living prefer rock and roll."
Dance music (waltzes, etc) is not considered "Great Music", so I don't ever have to listen to them even if I was a music snob.
Conclusions that Greenberg didn't mention but that I drew for myself:
The various forms of music (e.g., Sonata Form) were really designed for music that was written in a pre-recorded era. That's why, for instance, Sonata Expositions frequently feature repeats of the themes. In a pre-recording era, you weren't going to listen to a piece of music repeatedly on demand, so each musical piece would have to repeat its themes during the exposition so the audience could hold it in their heads. This practice doesn't stand up in recorded music, since if you were to listen to the pieces repeatedly (e.g., if you listened to any of the numbered symphonies more than once a week), the expositions quickly become boring and feels like the composer's condescending to your intelligence. Greenberg vehemently demands that repeats be played exactly as written (and there's definitely a purist approach where that's correct), but I can definitely see why these already long pieces can't compete with shorter musical forms (e.g., Rock & Roll), which evolved in an era where recorded music that can be (re)played on-demand is the norm.
Classical music was used as the catch-all for Western instrumental music forms because it was the pop music of the day. The middle class was starting to happen, which meant that regular people could become amateur musicians and learn to play well enough to demand easy-listening pieces.
The need to express individuality and originality drove composers from Beethoven onwards to slowly abandon the traditional forms of instrumental music. What makes most modern instrumental composers unbearable to most people (e.g., Schoenberg) was when composers completely abandoned tonality.
I learned a surprising amount over the 42-lecture listen. The biographies of Beethoven, Listz, Tchaikovsky, and other composers were fun and added a lot of life to people behind the music. There were several pieces that I'd never heard before that I made notes to hunt down to listen to, and of course, I discovered that I'm a Beethoven fan and not a Mozart fan.
The piano technology got hugely better from the 1600s to the 1800s. That's why in Mozart's symphonies, whenever the piano played the rest of the orchestra had to pipe down: the piano simply wasn't loud enough to compete with the other instruments in the orchestra. By the time you got to the 1800s the concert grand could hold its own against the orchestra and the symphonies written then didn't have to pipe down the rest of the orchestra as much. I wished Greenberg covered more of this since it would have been interesting to see what other technological changes in instruments affected composition.
Life during the middle ages was tough. One of the composers had 20 children, out of which only 2 survived to adult hood. Many of them died young (Mozart at 35), and even when they were alive had poor health and frequently the medical care hurt them. Greenberg did not shy from providing excellent coverage of the composers' lives, which made them far more interesting as people than I would have thought.
I'm not convinced that Great Music should be restricted to those instrumental pieces constructed in the past. Certainly for today's "repeated listening" environments, I think many popular music genres out-compete the so-called classics for good reason.
Nevertheless, if you have the time, I'd definitely consider Professor Greenberg's lecture series well worth a listen.
If you want to understand your world in a deeper and more profound way, learn how to listen to great music. Listening to this course is a perfectly lovely way to spend 35 hours.
This is a comprehensive set of lectures that serves as more than just an introduction to great music. It even includes a good deal of history along with it. The lecturer is energetic and entertaining!
It is by necessity, however, lengthy!
I recommend listening in 4 parts:
Lectures 1-16: through the end of the Baroque period, then listen to Baroque music until you're sufficiently curious about what's next, classical.
Lectures 17-29: through the end of the classical period, then listen to classical music.
Lectures 30-44 : through the end of the romantic period, then listen to music from the romantic period.
Lectures 45-48 : through the end, then listen to modern music.
As you listen, you'll know where to start, then let your own tastes guide you from there! Expect to take at least 2 months, maybe a year or more with these lectures!
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