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The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works | [The Great Courses]

The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works

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 30 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.


©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 11-14-13
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 11-14-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is what audio books were made for"

    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.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacob United States 07-10-13
    Jacob United States 07-10-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Really happy with the format"

    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.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sher from Provo Utah 07-23-14
    Sher from Provo Utah 07-23-14 Member Since 2015

    tired teacher

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    "Great Listening!"

    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!!

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas anaheim hills, CA, United States 04-06-14
    Douglas anaheim hills, CA, United States 04-06-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This was Awesome"
    What made the experience of listening to The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


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

    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.


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yiqin SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, United States 01-20-14
    Yiqin SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, United States 01-20-14 Member Since 2012
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    "This is what audiobooks are for"
    Would you listen to The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works again? Why?

    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.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelley Hunter St. John, USVI USA 12-17-13
    Kelley Hunter St. John, USVI USA 12-17-13
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    "Enjoyed immensely, learned so much"
    What did you love best about The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The music in relation to the composer's life and personality, and historic context.


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

    His enthusiasm and knowledge come through his voice, very engaging.


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

    No! I savored it while cooking every evening for a few weeks.


    Any additional comments?

    I look forward to listening to more of Greenberg and other Great Courses.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlos Perry New York, NY United States 11-05-13
    Carlos Perry New York, NY United States 11-05-13
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    "The course, and the professor, are AMAZING"
    Where does The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    #2, just behind the Renaissance and Reformation course


    What did you like best about this story?

    The professor - his enthusiasm, knowledge and delivery....and the music, of course!


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

    No but I'm about to get several of his others...


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

    May the Forte be With You


    Any additional comments?

    Thank you...I'll listen to this whole series time and time again.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anita San Francisco, CA, United States 05-26-15
    Anita San Francisco, CA, United States 05-26-15 Member Since 2010
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    "What could be a better way to learn about music?"

    This is the third of Professor Greenberg's courses that I've listened to. Some of the material overlaps but that's not a problem. Theses courses are so jam packed with information that I'm happy to get a bit of a "review" of what I've heard before. With these courses I feel like I stumbled on a gold mine. They have enriched my life. Thank you Professor Goldberg!

    A word on his style. I couldn't stand the first few hours of listening to him but I powered through because the material was so good. A few more hours into the first 25-hour survey course not only did he not bother me but I truly loved the way he presented information. He was particularly good in the "How to listen to Opera" course. Sure, some of his jokes are "jejune" (as another reviewer put it), but that's more than offset by his enthusiasm and his extraordinary talent for explaining and analyzing music. And sometimes he is pretty funny. Highly recommend to anyone who loves music and wants to learn more about it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 02-01-15
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 02-01-15 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If they cut off both hands, I will compose music.."

    If they cut off both hands, I will compose music anyway holding the pen in my teeth. Dimitri Shostakovich

    This lecture series by Robert Greenberg on the 30 Greatest Orchestral Works is an amazing journey through music and the history of music starting with Vivaldi and ending with Shostakovich.

    I learned a great deal about music and especially the composers and what they tried to accomplish through their music. I had no idea that at one time composers working for patrons were expected to come up with something new every month and didn't start writing their works down until people started asking them to play something again. Can you imagine how many great works were lost because they were not written down?

    The list of the classes are as follows:
    30 Greatest Orchestral Works
    1. Introduction
    2. Vivaldi’s-The Four Seasons
    3. Bach’s-Brandenburg Concerto
    4. Bach’s-Violin Concerto in E Major
    5. Haydn’s-Symphony 104
    6. Mozart’s -Piano Concerto 24 in C Minor
    7. Mozart’s-Symphony #104 Jupiter In C Major
    8. Beethoven-Symphony #3
    9. Beethoven-Piano Concerto #4
    10. Beethoven-Symphony #9
    11. Schubert-Symphony #9
    12. Mendelssohn—“Italian” Symphony
    13. Schumann—Symphony No. 3
    14. Brahm’s-Symphony No.4
    15. Brahm’s-Violin Concerto
    16. Tchaikovsky—Symphony No. 4
    17. Tchaikovsky—Violin Concerto
    18. Bedrich Smetana—Má Vlast
    19. Dvorák—Symphony No. 8
    20. Dvorák—Concerto for ’Cello
    21. Rimsky-Korsakov—Scheherazade
    22. Richard Strauss—Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    23. Mahler—Symphony No. 5
    24. Rachmaninoff—Symphony No. 2
    25. Debussy—La Mer
    26. Stravinsky—The Rite of Spring
    27. Saint-Saëns—Symphony No. 3
    28. Holst—The Planets
    29. Copland—Appalachian Spring
    30. Shostakovich—Symphony No. 5
    31. Shostakovich—Symphony No. 10
    32. The Ones that Got Away

    He ends the lectures talking about some composers like Bizet and Bartok whose estates refuse to allow the Great Courses to teach their works, which is a shame.

    I know now what to look for in a piece of music and some more composers I should look into. I can highly recommend the course and the lecturer.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Stockbridge, GA, United States 08-19-13
    Paul Stockbridge, GA, United States 08-19-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent!"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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