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The Symphonies of Beethoven Lecture

The Symphonies of Beethoven

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Publisher's Summary

Ludwig van Beethoven is justifiably acclaimed as one of the most revered composers in the history of Western music-a genius once characterized as a "Titan, wrestling with the gods." There is no better way for you to understand the full impact of that description than to not only listen to all nine of his magnificent symphonies, but to do so with a full understanding of what this great composer was saying and the circumstances that drove him up to and beyond what had once been considered the limits of musical expression.

The 32 lectures that make up this detailed introduction to Beethoven explores each of his symphonies in depth, explaining the gifts of musical communication that made this composer unique. Even without any previous musical training, you'll be able to grasp the absolute directness that made his work so accessible, the sheer emotional power that could never be ignored, and the ways in which his ideas were revolutionary on every level. Beginning with an introduction to Beethoven the man and the musical and societal forces that shaped his development, you'll explore his breathtaking innovations: harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, formal, dramatic, self-expressive, and emotional. And you'll come to understand how and why this man was able to lead music into a totally new era as he dispensed with the restraint of 18th-century Classicism to usher in the era of romantic self-expression - even as his own ability to even hear what he was creating was progressively and tragically vanishing.

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

©1996 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1996 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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Performance
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  •  
    Christopher James San Francisco, CA United States 09-23-14
    Christopher James San Francisco, CA United States 09-23-14 Member Since 2016
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    "Truly the course materials MUST be made available."
    Would you listen to The Symphonies of Beethoven again? Why?

    Yes, because being new to music theory I didn't absorb it all the first time, but would very much like to.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Symphonies of Beethoven?

    Beethoven's letter to everyone for when he died was particularly poignant, abs the explanation for the last movement of the Second Symphony was priceless.


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

    He's very animated and clearly knows his material.


    Any additional comments?

    Smart people work at The Teaching Company and Audible. Please figure out how to make the course materials available. They are critical despite your protestations to the contrary.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dale Goodyear USA 06-27-16
    Dale Goodyear USA 06-27-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "THE STUDY GUIDE IS NOW AVAILABLE!"
    Any additional comments?

    A fantastic course is now even more wonderful now that the in-depth Study Guide is included. Thanks Audible!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-13-14 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Great Course with a Great Caveat"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Robert Greenberg?

    Yes


    What did you like best about this story?

    Prof. Greenberg's style is passionate and humorous which makes the course quite enjoyable. His explanations are good.


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

    N/A


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Symphonies of Beethoven?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    A great caveat is that Audible does not offer the word scores Prof. Greenberg uses heavily in this course and which are described in the very beginning as of great importance to understand the course. Not only that, but the professor skips some parts, due to lack of time, instructing the listeners to read those parts in the word scores!

    When I complained, Audible said that 'The Great Courses company said the word scores are not important' and 'you can return the book if you didn't like it', which doesn't work for me because there is information in it that I need, but I also need the rest of it. When I contacted The Great Courses company they offered to sell me the hard copy of the word scores!

    The question now is: Why doesn't Audible mention clearly that these courses come without the word scores that are given great importance by the instructor? And why doesn't it strike a deal with that company to sell the word scores and add their prices to the books'?

    42 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ark1836 09-23-15
    Ark1836 09-23-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nine Great Reasons to Listen"

    Beethoven's nine symphonies are amazing works of art, and this course helps bring them to life. My personal knowledge of orchestral music was incredibly limited until I began listening to Professor Greenberg's series of courses on music appreciation. This is the fourth of his courses that I've completed, and it is as outstanding as the others. As an initial comment, unless you are experienced with orchestral music, I recommend taking Professor Greenberg's How to Listen to and Understand Great Music before tackling this course. His introductory course provides a great deal of important contextual information that made this course easier to understand.

    My one caveat to this course is that there are several parts—perhaps too many—where Professor Greenberg gets very technical on musical theory. I have no ability to interpret pitches, harmonies, etc…, though the professor spends considerable time talking about how Beethoven used different musical elements like pitches in the symphonies. I will freely admit that the professor lost me almost completely when he began those discussions. A listener with a good understanding of musical theory would probably love those parts of the course, but for me it is something to endure. It is, however, worth enduring to get to the parts where the professor discusses elements of the works such as Beethoven's life experiences that influenced the music and the meaning that Beethoven was trying to express in certain passages. Professor Greenberg does a fantastic job opening up Beethoven's nine symphonies to an amateur such as myself. The course is both fun and enlightening.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Listen 08-13-13
    Listen 08-13-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    8
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    "Where is the course outlines?"
    Any additional comments?

    The Great Courses series is a wonderful new addition and I am really delighted to get all these wonderful courses at such an affordable price (if you pay for credits), but oddly enough, unlike other audio courses such as the Modern Scholar series, the outlines are not included. This is a major disappointment thus 3 stars for overall. I hope Audible will correct this defect.

    24 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosemary P. 03-05-15
    Rosemary P. 03-05-15
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    "Unbelievably thorough"
    What does Professor Robert Greenberg bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His enthusiasm is so engaging and his depth of knowledge is astounding!


    Any additional comments?

    While the word score would be nice, I bought this to listen to in the car and it not only entertains, but gives so much information that I was enraptured throughout. I bought all 9 symphonies so I can listen to them and go back and re-listen to the lectures on each symphony to deepen my understanding. I will definitely be buying more of The Great Courses.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 01-11-17
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 01-11-17

    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.

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    ""And his nine symphonies are among the greatest.."


    "And his nine symphonies are among the greatest achievements of the human spirit."
    32 lectures | 45 minutes each

    1-4 Beethoven and the Heroic Style

    5-6 Symphony No.1- Beethoven as Classicist

    7-8 Symphony No.2-Beethoven at the Edge

    9-12 Symphony No.3- The New Path

    13-16 Symphony No.4-Consolidation of the new Aesthetic

    17-19 Symphony No.5-The Expressive Ideal Fully Formed

    20-22 Symphony No.6-The Symphony as Program

    23-24 Symphony No.7-The Symphony as Dance

    25-27 Symphony No.8-Homage to Classicism

    28-32 Symphony No.9-The Symphony as the World

    This is one of my favorite courses yet from the Great Courses Company and especially Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I have heard some of the music before such as the great 5th Symphony, but I can’t say I understood it at all.

    This course helps you to understand what you are listening to and why it was written in this particular way. It also shows you how Beethoven took music from its beginnings and stretched it to its limits. The Professor felt that if Beethoven lived today, he would have loved Jazz music and even Rock and Roll. (Of course, he probably would have lost his hearing even quicker now.)

    Of all the music I listened to in this course, I loved the 6th Symphony the best. It spoke to me of nature and the people and their relationship with the earth.

    The Professor also fills us in on Beethoven’s private life. We learn who his “Immortal Beloved” was and his strange relationship with his brothers and sisters-in-law. He was a genius but also a very weird personality.

    Along with these lectures comes a book written by Dr. Greenberg to help you listen to the complete symphonies by yourself. Now Amazon Prime has Leonard Bernstein’s collector’s edition of all of Beethoven’s Symphonies for Prime members.

    I loved this course and highly recommend. I received this course as an anniversary pick from Audible. It was well worth any price.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 02-06-17
    Mike 02-06-17 Member Since 2014

    I am a retired business man who wanted to be a History teacher.at the age of 81 Im catching up on my favourite historical characters & event

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    "The Emporer presentation by Professor Greenberg"

    Professor Greenberg sure knows how to present a lecture.I am not a musician but found his presentation informative,interesting and compelling.Simply put,listen to it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Rajan 01-08-17
    A. Rajan 01-08-17

    amazon shopper

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "superb, instructive, ultimately moving."

    If you are moved by Beethoven's symphonies and want a better appreciation of it, look no further.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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