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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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  •  
    Eusebio NY 02-12-15
    Eusebio NY 02-12-15
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    "Too disappointing audio quality (music)"

    I have most of prof. Greenberg's courses. I buy them on CD directly from the Teaching Company (The Great Courses) and this is the first one I'm trying from Audible.

    I was very disappointed with how it sounds in Audible format. The voice parts sound fine. In the musical passages however, the experience is significantly degraded because the sound is muddy and lacking brilliance. Listening to this recording reminds me of days long past listening to music on an old AM radio (and I do not mean it in a nostalgic sense...)

    In my opinion, for other courses (e.g., the professional series, or the better living series) the Audible format is good but not for music courses. The content of the course is excellent as I expected from prof. Greenberg, but I cannot recommend getting this edition. If you can afford spending a little more, do yourself a favor and get a version of this course that is in a format intended for music.

    1 of 1 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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Stone Milwaukee, WI 08-12-15
    L. Stone Milwaukee, WI 08-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "expertise and enthusiasm "

    I chose this title to summarize my thank you to the narrator Professor Greenberg. Obviously an expert who loves and appreciates music and creativity. His enthusiasm enhanced my enjoyment of this formidable topic. I am returning to discover more about music I have always loved from a gentleman who knows and loves great music. Thank you professor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ark1836 08-03-15
    Ark1836 08-03-15 Member Since 2013
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    "A Horizon Expanding Tour Through Musical Greats"

    This is my third music class by Professor Greenberg. As always, he is a master storyteller and presenter. I started pursuing a musical education from a point of next to zero understanding or appreciation. I was goaded into beginning these courses by my daughter's school requirement that she learn to play a musical instrument. I do not want to be ignorant about anything my daughter is doing, so I started taking these Great Courses lectures to build an understanding. I confess that I did not really expect to like learning about music and just hoped for a decent experience. I have been more than pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the presentations and the subject matter. I never expected it to happen, but these courses have begun to radically change my taste in music. My music collection has grown considerably as I have purchased recordings of the various composers covered by Professor Greenberg. From these courses, I have developed an appreciation of the art form that previously was not part of my life. What started out as just a desire to learn what my daughter is learning is turning into a desire to learn for my own sake.

    This course examines thirty great orchestral works. I must disagree with the word "greatest" in the title because the professor admits from the beginning that he wanted to survey orchestral works through time, starting with Vivaldi (who was born in the 1600s) and ending with Shostakovich (who died in 1975). The professor also limited his selections to no more than two works from the same author with an exception for Beethoven who was included three times, and he excluded works that he covered thoroughly in other classes. Therefore, these are not necessarily the thirty "greatest" of all time. These are, however, each masterworks. The professor discusses the context in which each work was written, focusing on either the era that the work was created or the life experience of the composer that led to its creation (or sometimes both). Each lecture includes a brief biography of the composer then analyzes the highlights of the music piece both from a technical perspective and an experiential perspective. The course is somewhat inconsistent in the amount of time the spent listening to the actual musical pieces—some works are discussed with just very brief excerpts while others include long passages. This approach is fine as long as the student is prepared to buy each of the works separately to listen to them in their entirety. Thankfully, most of these works can be purchased at a very minimal price. This is an excellent course well-worth the time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TR Jensen Salt Lake City, Utah 07-08-15
    TR Jensen Salt Lake City, Utah 07-08-15 Member Since 2012

    Just a curious guy who travels the world.

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    "Professor Greenberg get's 100 Stars!"

    + Professor Greenberg is funny and witty
    + The biographies on the composers at the beginning of each lecture (and Greenberg's humor) make the whole series worth it.
    + I still don't understand most of the technical aspects of classical composition, but after listening to this course ... I can see that there ARE technical aspects to appreciate.

    - Some of the technical aspects were way over my head.

    Overall ... great course and like I've said in other reviews, the Great Courses additions are a GOLD MINE of value in our Audible subscriptions. Whoever negotiated that/figured that out deserves a raise!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SJ Yeocero Albuquerque, NM USA 06-30-15
    SJ Yeocero Albuquerque, NM USA 06-30-15 Member Since 2015

    SJ Yeocero

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    "A Great "Great Course""

    Prof. Greenberg is by far my favorite of The Great Courses lecturers. He is intelligent and engaging. His lectures are detailed, but never boring. I don't even have any particular interest in classical music, but I thoroughly enjoy these lectures. I have listened to 3 or 4 of Prof. Greenberg's lectures and will very likely buy another soon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Sarah F. Burns Ashland, OR, USA 05-22-15
    Sarah F. Burns Ashland, OR, USA 05-22-15 Member Since 2011

    S Burns, naturalg

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    "Entertaining and Educational"
    Where does The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's right up there among my favorite audio books. Professor Greenberg is a fantastic speaker and the content is compelling.


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

    His performance is very enthusiastic and he uses contemporary quips and analogies to illustrate how timeless this great music is. His arguments are compelling and the way he fleshes out the lives of the artists adds great richness to the enjoyment of the music.


    Any additional comments?

    This has been really wonderful, however, I recommend you download each orchestral piece in it's entirety, listen to it before and/or after listening to the lecture. Each lecture contains only portions of the music. I also find that if I listened to one right after another I would miss out. It would be better to listen to one lecture, listen to the music and wait a day or so before moving on to another. This isn't really a five hour car ride audio book. More of a daily walk kind of audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miguel Mejia 02-19-15 Member Since 2009
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    "Fantastic"

    You should be greatful this course exists. Listen to this course and be amazed at how much you thought you did not know.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 02-05-15
    Mark 02-05-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Learned, Wry, Joyous"

    I hope to listen to these lectures again because they were so good. I listened to some while chopping wood, some while lying sick in bed, some while baking bread, some while driving the dog to the vet. Always riveting and yet, as you can tell from my examples, I was at times otherwise occupied. A second pass through will, no doubt, double my enjoyment, which is saying something. Professor Greenberg rocks!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DrandomTubas New Hampshire 01-03-14
    DrandomTubas New Hampshire 01-03-14
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    "dynamic and engaging. DO not listen in order"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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