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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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (552 )
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  •  
    simon björkman 03-26-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great but lacking in soundquality"

    I greatly enjoyed this course but my only complaint is that when the music played or when he played the piano the soundquality was awful, especially in the bass. It just wobbled constantly in a very strange way when it clearly shouldnt have.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pedro Uberlandia, Brazil 03-16-15
    Pedro Uberlandia, Brazil 03-16-15 Member Since 2011
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    6
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    "music fun"

    Prof. Greenberg is a master of hysterical analogies. Funny and illuminating. He makes me want to listen to all his courses.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joee hodgson 03-14-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Bravo, Professer Greenberg!"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition the most enjoyable?

    This is course is very well put-together and presented superbly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The history and biography of composers.


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

    Entertaining! His analogies are spot-on.


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

    Not applicable. This is a 48 hour course.


    Any additional comments?

    This course is a masterpiece. I will listen to more of Prof. Greenberg's courses.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathapong 03-11-15
    Nathapong 03-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    3
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    "Loved every minute."

    Superbly entertaining. Extremely insightful. Deeply inspiring. This is so far the only audiobook I will listen to again. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon T Santa Rosa, CA 03-08-15
    Jon T Santa Rosa, CA 03-08-15 Member Since 2011
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    49
    3
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    "Credits well spent"

    This is exactly what I was looking for. I took some music appreciation classes in school and was looking for something to refresh my memory and provide a good historical and technical overview of the development and components of this music. Prof. Greenberg does a great job bringing the stories and historical perspective of musical styles and composer's lives to life with his enthusiastic, sometimes a little goofy, presentation style. I was also looking to gain a greater understanding of the components and structures of specific forms of music and that's all here, all illustrated with musical passages played for the listener, often with Greenberg narrating along to indicate what is going on. I really enjoyed this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    perla allan 03-01-15
    perla allan 03-01-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Very informative !"

    As someone with no music background, I am very pleased with the lecture. Although it would be nice if I have the printed guide or summary while listening so I can go back to some chapters that I needed to listen again.. I am planning to listen again, although I bought several of the other lectures... I am a slow to grasp the lectures but I guess If I listen to it again and again, maybe it will help...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jared Uraine Las Vegas, NV 02-25-15
    Jared Uraine Las Vegas, NV 02-25-15
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    6
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    "Professor Greenberg is the star"

    This course is fantastic for anyone interested in great music on any level. Professor Greenberg takes you on a journey that feels like you're actually there and makes it fun with laughs and surprises along the way. I found myself going back and reviewing several portions a second and third time without annoyance because the stories are enjoyable over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amelia Ann Favere Takoma Park, MD USA 02-22-15
    Amelia Ann Favere Takoma Park, MD USA 02-22-15 Listener Since 2010
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    "Interesting lectures, lacks course material"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    (This field requires I write 15 words or 25 characters, but I don't have an answer to the question. This is a nonfiction book, and most of my friends like fiction.)


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

    (This field requires I write 15 words or 25 characters, but I don't have an answer to the question.)


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

    (This field requires I write 15 words or 25 characters, but I don't have an answer to the question. This is a nonfiction book.)


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

    (This field requires I write 15 words or 25 characters, but I don't have an answer to the question.)


    Any additional comments?

    His lecture provides a basic understanding of Western "classical" music (he prefers the term "concert" music), along with a heavy dose of Prof. Greenberg's personal preferences. Nonetheless, his lecture style may appeal to some and turn off others -- like a heavy spiced curry, you're likely to either love it or hate it. For example, he says "my friends" when introducing new points in his lectures. This happens a lot.

    Prof. Greenberg's lecture style wears a little thin if you batch-listen to the lectures -- they are better spaced out. Like my art history teachers in school, his explanation of history not within his field of expertise is oversimplified to the point of being misleading -- if you studied Western history in some detail, you may find some of his somewhat old-fashioned understanding of change in European history a turn-off. This is most egregious in his first lecture, where he discounts all music in the non-Western tradition as unworthy of study because it did not change -- an assertion that would shock scholars of, say, Chinese operatic traditions, just to name one. But most folks will probably be fine with it, and you know who you are in either case.

    One problem is that the course materials are not included with the purchase. Prof. Greenberg refers to these in passing several times, and it would be extremely helpful to have a copy handy for reference. It took all my creative googling skills to find the name of a medieval French song (it turned out to be written "Quant en moy" by the prolific Guillame de Marchaut) with only a knowledge of modern French to guide me (I had imagined "Contes en noir" in my head from only hearing it said briefly, so this took some time!). Having the course materials available would have made such searches much easier in tracking down recordings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon 02-14-15
    Sharon 02-14-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent Lectures, Thoroughly Enjoyed!"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition the most enjoyable?

    Professor Greenberg's lectures cover an incredible scope and make the history of Western music comprehensible. I learned an enormous amount and understood concepts e.g. 'key' and 'circle of 5ths' that I'd never completely understood before. Prof. Greenberg brought the composers to life and introduced me to many I barely knew and I enjoyed the many anecdotes he shared about the personal lives of the great composers.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Professor Greenberg - for his erudition, his passion and his playfulness. I so enjoyed his lectures that I have now purchased another series.


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

    Well, yes - it certainly kept my interest and I looked forward to my daily listening.


    0 of 0 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 21-30 of 50 results PREVIOUS12345NEXT
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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!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • JOHN
    County Cork, Ireland
    4/25/14
    Overall
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    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
  • 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.

    3 of 3 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.

    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
  • 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.

    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
  • 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 1 people found this review helpful
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