Over the centuries, orchestral music has given us a category of works that stand apart as transcendent expressions of the human spirit. What are these "greatest of the greats"? Find out in these 32 richly detailed lectures that take you on a sumptuous grand tour of the symphonic pieces that continue to live at the center of our musical culture. These thirty masterworks form an essential foundation for any music collection and a focal point for understanding the orchestral medium and deepening your insight into the communicative power of music. While seasoned music lovers will find the lectures a revealing journey through the repertoire, the course welcomes newcomers to orchestral music, offering a very accessible point of entry to this magnificent repertoire.You'll encounter symphonies, concertos, tone poems, symphonic poems, and suites, delving into the works through extensive musical excerpts. The course covers the major eras and stylistic periods in Western music from the early 18th- to the mid-20th centuries and highlights a wide range of European and American works. Among these: Haydn's Symphony no. 104, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, and Shostakovich's Symphony no. 5. Throughout these lectures, you'll learn about the major musical forms found in orchestral writing and how they're used in conveying expressive meanings. Knowing how these forms work allows you to grasp the structure of the music as you hear it, and also to appreciate how the greatest composers used them, extended them, and finally departed from them in sublimely original ways.
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.
©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
I'm very pleased with how they have formatted these lectures. Each 45 minute lecture discusses the composer's life and current circumstances while they had composed the piece, as well as the current music environment that influenced it.
Then the featured piece of that lectures plays through in snippets with pauses to discuss what is being heard and highlights the structural form of each work. It's a great way to break down and highlight each piece especially if you have access to listen to it in its entirety later on.
As someone with an extremely limited knowledge of music I have always felt intimidated by classical compositions. I could not tell you the difference between a symphony and a concerto, but after listening to these lectures I have a much better appreciation of them.
The lecturer's delivery is a cross of Lewis Black and George Will--authoritative but wickedly funny. He actually made me laugh out loud a few times. His passion for these works comes through in every lecture.
The format he follows is a brief bio-sketch of the composer followed by snippets of music and commentary. When he says "notice how the composer uses dissonant harmonies to convey struggle" you can actually hear it. Each lecture is meant to be complete in itself allowing you to jump around, but I found listening beginning to end to be most convenient.
This is an ideal work for an audio book.
I would have to say this is one of the best books I've listened to, although it is not technically a book. It is a part of the Great Courses series, through which you can increase your knowledge of just about anything.. This one is absolutely fabulous from my point of view. The author, Professor Robert Greenberg, took thirty of what he considers the very best of the Western Hemisphere orchestral works of the last three and a half centuries and expounded on them and their composers. Being somewhat of a music historian wannabee, I was so enthralled that the time fairly flew as I was absorbed in these classes. It made me want to go to my own recordings of these pieces and listen to them each from start to finish with new light and understanding. Bravo, Dr. Greenberg. Please keep these classes coming!!
#2, just behind the Renaissance and Reformation course
The professor - his enthusiasm, knowledge and delivery....and the music, of course!
No but I'm about to get several of his others...
May the Forte be With You
Thank you...I'll listen to this whole series time and time again.
This is something I always wanted to learn about but since I never grew up in music or play a musical instrument I had limited access to this type of information. But this book can obviously be appreciated by experienced people in music as well.
I liked the idea that there are stories behind the music. The music as explained by this Professor teaches you how the composer is expressing himself with the music. Once you hear what the story is behind the music and the background of the composer it all makes beautiful sense.
Professor Greenberg was an awesome narrator/professor. He could easily be a professional narrator which is unlike some of the "Great Courses" narrators since they are professors. But Greenberg is great and very easy to listen to. You can pick up on his experience and passion.
I never knew the about the stories behind the music and that the composers were actually expressing themselves so specifically with the music. When Greenberg informs you what it is the composer is 'saying' at each point in the music it makes wonderful sense. I don't know how I could have listened to these pieces in the past without knowing the stories behind them.
Its like the greatest hits of orchestral music. Greenberg plays the highlights of the scores and you don't have to listen to an hour of music. He picks up on the highlights of each piece of music and explains to you what is going on with the music at that particular time.
Greenberg is a great teacher. I loved the combination of biography, history and music analysis. I have enjoyed classical music for many years without knowing much about it. I found this course very interesting.
The music in relation to the composer's life and personality, and historic context.
His enthusiasm and knowledge come through his voice, very engaging.
No! I savored it while cooking every evening for a few weeks.
I look forward to listening to more of Greenberg and other Great Courses.
I'm in the habit of listening to audiobooks while I'm running. For most of those books, I could probably get a better understanding if I sit down and read the book in paper. However, it is different for the 30 greatest orchestral works. The presentation is just perfect and could not be achieved if not in audio form.
I thought I had my favorite symphonies on my iphone, but wound up buying several versions of pretty much every work highlighted. Sorry Bartok estate.
I've been a musician all of my life and yet in each of these lectures there was something new to learn. I enjoyed Dr. Greenberg's delivery and found the contextual information about the composer and the time in which they lived to have a profound impact of how I heard the pieces discussed. I also came away with a new-found appreciation for some of the composers with whom I was less familiar. All in all I was sad to hear it end and will definitely look for another series.
Smetana. I am still reeling over his pronunciation. Smetnah instead of SmehTAHnah. I sat in shock for a full 4 minutes when this section began because I had never heard of Smetna and was embarrassed at myself.
Then I realized it was a funny accent. Come on, dude, Wikipedia's got recording you could use to check your pronunciation. He got Ralph right, at least.
Read the last chapter 2nd. Trust me.
I listened to the work in order and was really frustrated by the heavy emphasis on the old dead white guys from hundreds of years in the past.
"You are the reason the orchestra is dying! WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT BEETHOVEN for THREE episodes? WE ALLLL KNOW ABOUT BEETHOVEN!" and I may have growled every time he repeated a composer.
The last lecture makes up for it, however. Had copyright issues not arisen, I am encouraged to believe much more time would have been spent on recent works. Works that we need to learn about if we want there to be a next generation of great composers at all.
I accept that this is just the nature of the beast, but I really and truly wish we could have listened to the complete works discussed, before or after each lecture. The excerpts were much appreciated, but I'm too lazy to go back and forth between Audible and Rhapsody every time he mentions a work. So my extreme reaction was frustration. It was like reading about art and only seeing small portions of the painting.
I loved the lecturer's obvious passion for the subject and his various silly jokes.
Wish he had chosen to call the class 30 greatest Composers of Orchestral works... but I am pleased with what I got-- it would have done me a LOT OF GOOD had I listened to this before taking Music History or Theory in college -- I remember some truly embarrassing essays I wrote on sonata form.
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