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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.

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

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jacob United States 07-10-13
    Jacob United States 07-10-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 11-14-13
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 11-14-13 Member Since 2009
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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.

    12 of 12 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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 07-23-14
    Amazon Customer Utah 07-23-14 Member Since 2009

    tired teacher

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!!

    5 of 5 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.

    2 of 2 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.

    5 of 6 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.


    1 of 1 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 2013
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Neal Florida 04-02-14
    Daniel Neal Florida 04-02-14 Member Since 2008
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    "A delightful journey"
    Would you listen to The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works again? Why?

    I feel that I am learning to listen to some of my favorite music but enjoying it more--like visiting a cathedral after first reading about it.


    Any additional comments?

    Dr. Greenberg has a marvelous way of presenting concepts and history. He made me feel I was sitting in his study listening to a story teller. Learning this way is addictive and such fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alissa McCarthy Scottsdale, AZ USA 01-13-14
    Alissa McCarthy Scottsdale, AZ USA 01-13-14 Member Since 2009
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    "An absolute delight!"
    What made the experience of listening to The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works the most enjoyable?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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