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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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  •  
    Marc 09-03-14
    Marc 09-03-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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    "Yes. Do. Listen. To. This! But get some Baldrian."
    If you could sum up How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition in three words, what would they be?

    That's great music?

    (does that count as three?)

    When I was a very young being (yes, before the war ...) I was convinced that, one day, within the span of my lifetime, I would be able to understand why "that guy in the orchestra is threatening the girl with a stick - and if he is not, why the heck she doesn't stop screaming".

    This course has fulfilled one of my great wishes: To understand what some people consider "great" with that "old" music. For this I am grateful. Really, deeply, honestly grateful. I found an approach to Mozart (and more important composers) that I would not have considered possible (since I don't find Mozart's music that impressive - although I LOVE orchestral music).

    What I still do not get is: Why this music types should be considered "greater" than any (and I mean: ANY) other type of professionally composed, orchestrated, conducted and played music. While I do "understand" now, what some people find interesting in Mozart, Wagner(?!) or Schönberg, the examples provided in the course weren't able to demonstrate the "greatness" of the music (or their composers) to me. Sorry. I like some stuff of it, I dislike others - but I frankly don't care if it is "great" music or just "good" music, if it tells me something and moves me.

    Ok: Just take "great" out of the title and this course is a "no-brainer" (how strange that expression seems ...). Get it. Listen to it. I did - I did not skip a singe minute.


    Would you recommend How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would, can and already have done several times: Recommend this course to ANYONE who feels even the slightest interest in "understanding that kind of music". The course is approachable, understandable, moving, pulls you with it, gives ideas and inspirations for "further listening" and, not the least point, each lecture ends before it gets too hard to keep up with the enthusiasm of Prof. Greenberg!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I really loved the ideas about how Mozart might have reacted to later music compositions, although I somewhat doubt he would have done it the way presented here. Still, the idea of how he might have felt is very believable.


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

    The sheer length of the course doesn't make listening to it in one "tour de force" unlikely. Besides, you need time to think through, iterate over and "try out" what you heard. You have to listen to different (in many cases: better) recordings of the music excerpts presented.
    This book is for people interested in the matter - not for people wanting to get "smart" by listening to a course and "be done".


    Any additional comments?

    A complex course and shortened overview over such a huge matter as it is presented in this course cries for discussion. There are many, many things that I can not agree on with Prof. Greenberg (having some historical education myself). Examples would be the role the (Christian) Church has played according to Mr. Greenberg in regards to preserving art (his point of view) instead of actively destroying it or concentrating it on a minimalistic "mainstream" (mine).
    A point that Prof. Greenberg seems to love is "musical typology is driven by spoken language", which does make sense to some extend. The examples of (German) spoken language he presents don't resemble typical "German" to me, though. One could be mean and counter with "Well, if what Prof. Greenberg says is true, then typical contemporary American music must be ugly, arhythmic, stuttering - because that is the way that I speak American". German does have variations (dialects) and even sub-types. German has not been the "language of art" through all centuries, so basing musical typology on "German" as an American speaks it today is irritating at best.

    Sure - nitpicking I am. These are just examples of topics I would like to discuss, which, unfortunately, does not work in a one-way-communication like this course. There are many hickups begging to be pointed out, yet, none of these render the course any less worthy.

    Get it. Listen to it. Open up a world you did not think interesting or worth examining ever before!

    (Well, if you DID understand classic, romantic and whatsnotic music before, you probably bought the course for the fun of being doped with ecstasy for the topic by the tutor, didn't you?)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David H. Israel Macon, Georgia 07-10-14
    David H. Israel Macon, Georgia 07-10-14 Member Since 2008
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    191
    3
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    "Very Enjoyable"
    Where does How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Professor Greenberg delivers a well produced and enjoyable set of lectures full of information, wit and enjoyment. His ability to interest the mind and to connect the listener with the construct is amazing. I enjoyed every minute.


    What did you like best about this story?

    He made each piece of music come to life and illustrated the teaching objective very well.


    Any additional comments?

    I am better for listening!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Tingley 05-11-14 Member Since 2012
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    5
    4
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    "If you love music this a great listen"
    Any additional comments?

    Bob Greenberg is very entertaining and charismatic. What I especially liked about this book is the biographies of the composers that you get with the music... and the music! There are great music samples throughout. The only reason I knocked a star off is because it does get a little tedious at times. I actually stopped listening for a while and listened to another book, but I did come back and finish it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regina CHICAGO, IL, United States 03-19-14
    Regina CHICAGO, IL, United States 03-19-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Love this course!"
    If you could sum up How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition in three words, what would they be?

    This course is thorough without being overwhelming. It contains interesting antidotes which give the information personality. The benefit of the audiobook format is being able to listen to the selections of the music being discussed.


    What other book might you compare How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to and why?

    This is the first "Great Courses" selection that I've made, but this one has piqued my interest in purchasing other Great Courses.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I cannot choose a "favorite" section. There are so many sections that gave me the sense of traveling through time to "witness" the culture and social structure of the period influencing each category of music.


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

    The narrator, Professor Robert Greenberg, is very entertaining. This was important because the course is 33 hours long.


    Any additional comments?

    The only improvement I would suggest is a companion quiz or exam to test how well I've retained all of the information.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Masoomeh 02-26-14
    Masoomeh 02-26-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Roberto Monteverde You are fantastic"
    Would you consider the audio edition of How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to be better than the print version?

    Ahhhh this is fantastic. I can learn as I walk & do other things. I think this audible version specially with the entertaining way that professor Greenberg presents the lectures is the best way to approach this course. It has brought meaning to a world that I could not ever imagine to understand.


    What other book might you compare How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to and why?

    None. This is unique.


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

    No But I have purchased his other audible books and can't wait to dive into opera.


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

    Music made easy


    Any additional comments?

    As one of the viewers mentioned, thank you for making this wealth of information affordable for the masses (the enlightenment of masses). I truly wish you would develop and add more material to this section. I find professor Greenberg's style very appealing. His background historical information drives the point home and gives the information a textural depth that would come across very dry in a historical written work. I only wish you could provide supplementary course material as well. I am happy to pay for it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Athena Buffalo, NY USA 02-19-14
    Athena Buffalo, NY USA 02-19-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Fabulous - witty and informative"
    What did you love best about How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition?

    The contextualization of music development with social, religious, and political events/


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

    I would have today ch 31. I will never listen to Beethoven's 5th in the same way!


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

    no


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

    not possible


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen 01-31-14
    Kathleen 01-31-14 Member Since 2008
    ratings
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    1
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    "Not a lecture, a performance"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition the most enjoyable?

    Music history is one of the fields of knowledge which I have never had any exposure to. (Shame on the public school system!) I was afraid it would be dry and inaccessible, but this has been a very fun listen and I will listen to more of the same.


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

    When I got so lost in the lecture that I had to slam on the brakes to avoid committing a major traffic violation while driving.


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

    Somewhere in the middle of this course I realized that Professor Robert Greenberg wasn't lecturing, he was performing. He has a knack for knowing just when the material is getting dry and taking funny little detours to wake up your mind again.


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

    There are laugh out loud moments in these lectures.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Santiago Chile 01-29-14
    Amazon Customer Santiago Chile 01-29-14 Member Since 2011

    Theos

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best music course I've ever had"
    If you could sum up How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition in three words, what would they be?

    Wonderful


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Many examples are so clear and makes us really feel what the author tried to express


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ricardo Austin, TX, United States 12-22-13
    Ricardo Austin, TX, United States 12-22-13 Member Since 2012
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    3
    3
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    Story
    "Through, comprehensive and entertaining"
    If you could sum up How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition in three words, what would they be?

    Professor Greenberg is generously passionate about the topic and delivers it with great skill and story telling skills.


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

    When his verbal explanations and excitement for the the music gets the listener primed to hear a great piece of music. And when the music starts playing, and all words melt into the beauty of the sound.


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

    He is a great professor.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Stockbridge, GA, United States 09-28-13
    Paul Stockbridge, GA, United States 09-28-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    "Very worthwhile."
    What did you love best about How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition?

    Well structured, fun to listen to.


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

    Yes. I have listen to four so far and am about to start a fifth.


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

    Too much to digest to listen to in one sitting. A lecture or two per day gives time to chew on the details. (And download some of the works discussed.)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 21-30 of 37 results PREVIOUS1234NEXT
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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!

    7 of 7 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.

    4 of 4 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.

    2 of 2 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.

    1 of 1 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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • gordon
    RADLETT, United Kingdom
    1/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "indepth and thorough"
    What did you like most about How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition?

    Definitely learnt a lot from this. Good use of examples and balance between talk and music


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

    he can be a bit annoying at times and his humour is like Chrismas cracker jokes


    Any additional comments?

    I knew nothing about music and this was most in-depth and interesting.

    0 of 0 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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andy
    Leicester, United Kingdom
    2/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good informative and a good listen"
    Would you listen to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition again? Why?

    There is so much information to absorb and so many insights I will be listening over and over


    What did you like best about this story?

    so much insight learned a lot


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

    I have two of his others and this one compares very well


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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