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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

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  •  
    Lee the reader 10-11-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful, I've wanted this for so long...but..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to be better than the print version?

    There is no print version!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Shall I say Beethoven? or Bach? :)


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

    I must have missed this.


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

    Good music is always moving.


    Any additional comments?

    I've been wanting this for YEARS... but audible has made this affordable for me. MORE intellectual Teaching company! These Great Courses were the reason I signed up for audible initially, but have found so much more here.

    This is a marvelous course, and I will definitely purchase more by this professor. I spent my college years pursuing practical courses in my scientific field, so this is an opportunity for me to finally take the "I wish I could" classes, in a way, that I never was able to before. Thank you so much for offering these.

    However, I DO have one major problem....

    Please, audible, can you have your software let people break things up into chapters, or lectures? I download these, and to have 36 lectures break up into 6 parts (For example; for the first section is: 1-Music as a Mirror; Sources—The Ancient World and the Early Church; The Middle Ages; Introduction to the Renaissance; The Renaissance Mass; The Madrigal) - well, that's just impossible to search or list on my media player! When I want to go back and find an area, it's very difficult to find - the chapters are just very tiny increments apart on the "bar".

    The sections should be listed by lecture I can easily find what I am looking for, or at least an option should be given. This is a course, after all. Could they not be:

    1 - Music as a Mirror
    2 - Sources - The Ancient World and Early Church
    3 - The Middle Ages
    4- Introduction to the Renaissance
    5- The Renaissance Mass
    6- The Madrigal

    See how much nicer and cleaner? That would make me so much happier! I have the same problem with chapter books. I just listened to Anne of Green Gables (marvelous, by the way) and wanted to find the part where Anne dyed her hair green. It was so hard to do, as a 9 hour book is only in one piece! Please find a way to let us break the courses into smaller, more practical parts, such as by lecture and chapter.

    76 of 76 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill STATEN ISLAND, NY, United States 09-23-13
    Bill STATEN ISLAND, NY, United States 09-23-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Bravo Bob Greenberg"
    Any additional comments?

    As someone who has listened to more than 40 courses from the Great Courses series, this one is simply the best. Since music was not my main interest, I was reluctant to invest $100 in this course from the GC website but jumped when I saw it offered by Audible for 1 credit because Prof. Greenberg had been most highly rated (4.8) by those who purchased the course.

    I admit to being initially disappointed by the professor's more informal and expressive approach which seemed geared to college Freshmen accustomed to listening to Hip Hop on their I Pods. But by the second lesson I was hooked for several reasons. First, the man not only knows his music, he loves it and his enthusiasm is infectious. Second, he approaches this course more like a coach than a teacher: leading the listener step by step through the music selections, reviewing main points from earlier lectures to bring the listener back up to speed, and asking leading questions to keep the listener's head in the game. Third, his rants are entertaining whether they are making a point or settling a score with other musicologists and he has some killer throw away lines.

    The bottom line is that I now have the classical station preset on my car radio and, with a basic understanding of the approach of the composer and of the era of the music, I enjoy listening to it. Prof. Greenberg provides the key to understanding this music and I suspect that many of his students at Berkeley have also added Mozart and Verdi to their playlists.

    The only drawback is that the course notes are not included with the audio download. While this is not important for many of the Great Courses, it would be a valuable accompaniment to this course. But then again, with an $85 savings through Audible, this minor complaint, like Beethoven's Fifth, is resolved by Bob Greenberg's major accomplishment.

    25 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 08-14-13
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 08-14-13 Member Since 2010
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    "FANTASTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCE"
    What did you love best about How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition?

    easy to understand and entertaining listen for a "non musical" person like me


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

    Prof Greenberg seems to be speaking directly to you - his speech is clear, interesting and very entertaining


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

    I certainly laughed ( must understand American humour )


    Any additional comments?

    I'm hooked! I've downloaded two more series ( opera and jazz )

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cookie Anacortes, WA, United States 07-10-13
    Cookie Anacortes, WA, United States 07-10-13 Member Since 2011

    Cookie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Super Great Courses!"

    The recent addition of the "Great Courses" is, for me like an invitation to a great feast! Starting with this unbelievable "dish". Robert Greenberg is a great teacher. I have no musical training or ability, just appreciation, but I can now hold my own in a discussion of music and composers. Prof. Greenberg is able to put music in a historical context as well as the personalities of the composers. His excitement for telling the "story" draws you in and keeps you wanting more. You may find yourself wanting to learn more about the history of a country, the food, the literature, etc, just because you had a taste of the music. There is truly nothing better than a great "story" well told! I am so pleased the Teaching Company has found and featured world class instructors so you and I can enjoy the learning! And I am overjoyed they are now available at Audible! I just can not say enough about this awesome course, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

    38 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-14-13
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-14-13
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    "Enjoyed."
    Where does How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I never understood why people like classical music. The title delivered what it promised. I now have an appreciation of the music


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

    He has an enthusiasm for music which he shares. He shared the historical context of the music which gave it meaning in the
    Human experience


    Any additional comments?

    It was long but I had the time available for it.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 07-16-13
    Robin 07-16-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic deal!"

    I bought this series on cassette when my library was getting rid of all their cassettes. The material was excellent but the quality of the used cassettes was awful, I had to stop less than halfway through because it was so frustrating, I thought of purchasing the set on CD but the price was pretty high. Now I can hear it all in perfect condition at a great price!

    Robert Greenberg is smart and funny and presents the material in a way that is accessible to anyone. I'm delighted that we now get access to The Great Courses at our regular credit price!

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eileen Hopkinton, MA, United States 12-17-13
    eileen Hopkinton, MA, United States 12-17-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So this is what musicians secretly know!"

    This was one fantastic audiobook! This is part of the the Great Courses lecture series and if you order it through Great Courses it would cost about $300. However, if you order it through Audible.com, it costs one credit, which is about $14.00. the only difference is that you don't receive the written course material, which might have come in handy on occasion but is not necessary to enjoy this incredible experience.

    So what is this great experience? It is nothing short of a 48 lecture course on, exactly as promised, how to listen to great music! Each lecture is 45 minutes, so that adds up to about 40 hours of listening time... quite a commitment. Robert Greenberg is a music professor who seems like the type of person that if you met him at party you would feel like you knew him your whole life. His enthusiasm for music is contagious. He is a great story teller and has a way of describing music in such a way that "it sticks".

    Like most great teachers, he tells you what he is going to teach, teaches it, then summarizes what he just taught. As he frequently says, music is a mirror of the time, so he adds historical insight into the description of the music. He doesn't try to cover everything, that would be impossible, but takes a longitudinal approach, beginning with the ancient world and quickly moves forward to the baroque,classical and romantic period. In the process he defines musical vocabulary that conductors, composers and music producers seem to think we all understand but don't. In the process he not only clarifies our ability to perceive what the composer's intent was in the creation of the music, but also helps us to understand their brilliance in making complexity seem so simple. You could say the same thing about Professor Greenberg himself... New Jersey native that he is, he has not lost his direct and irreverent manner of speaking, even while living in California.

    He is the only person who convinced me that I should really give opera a chance... I did... and sad to say... I still don't enjoy listening to the vocals, much as I like the orchestration. Each to his own, I guess.

    I would definitely order another one of these (he has many..). Makes for a much more enjoyable car ride.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 12-10-13
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 12-10-13 Member Since 2001

    BJS

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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
  •  
    Saud 08-29-13
    Saud 08-29-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Breaking New Grounds"

    There are very few books that seem to take advantage of audiobook technology as this one has. It is a lecture explaining the origin of music, as well as the developments and changes of schools of thought behind each form of music and how to develop an ear for it, with snippets of the music discussed broken down in each lecture to clarify the lecturer's point, followed by the full piece discussed at the end.

    I feel like I can understand music, even modern music, better.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dielle 12-06-13
    Dielle 12-06-13 Member Since 2009
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    "The bar has been raised"

    I am in love with Professor Greenberg. I wish I had attended even one lecture in college as interesting, entertaining, and informative as this. And I want more. The others that I had hoped were similar just did not measure up. His wit mixed with his passion for his subject was wonderful. Now I'm going to add all his lectures to my wish list.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 33 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
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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
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    "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.

    3 of 3 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
  • 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.

    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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