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How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition Lecture

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition

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Publisher's Summary

Great music is a language unto its own, a means of communication of unmatched beauty and genius. And it has an undeniable power to move us in ways that enrich our lives - provided it is understood.

If you have ever longed to appreciate great concert music, to learn its glorious language and share in its sublime pleasures, the way is now open to you, through this series of 48 wonderful lectures designed to make music accessible to everyone who yearns to know it, regardless of prior training or knowledge. It's a lecture series that will enable you to first grasp music's forms, techniques, and terms - the grammatical elements that make you fluent in its language - and then use that newfound fluency to finally hear and understand what the greatest composers in history are actually saying to us.

And as you learn the gifts given us by nearly every major composer, you'll come to know there is one we share with each of them - a common humanity that lets us finally understand that these were simply people speaking to us, sharing their passion and wanting desperately to be heard. Using digitally recorded musical passages to illustrate his points, Professor Greenberg will take you inside magnificent compositions by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and more. Even if you have listened to many of these illustrative pieces throughout your life - as so many of us have - you will never hear them the same way again after experiencing these lectures.

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

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    cduarte 04-22-17
    cduarte 04-22-17 Member Since 2014
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    "worth every minute. beautiful."

    history, anecdotes stories and music all part or a great discovery of the links in all western music a great time!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brendan Los Angeles, CA, United States 04-14-17
    Brendan Los Angeles, CA, United States 04-14-17 Member Since 2016

    Nuff McGreevey

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    "Educational and Fun"

    Just when I was feeling overwhelmed, I listened to some orchestral music, and experienced the course's foundation working actively in me. Like learning a language, this course is good practice in listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-07-17
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    "Perfect refresher"

    I received a bachelors degree in music over 10 years ago and then pursued a law degree. How thrilled I have been to complete this course and reacquaint myself with old friends. Prof. Greenberg excels at communicating his subject matter and particularly at putting it in a larger societal context. Well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MAdison 03-10-17
    MAdison 03-10-17 Member Since 2011
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    "A Masterpiece"
    Would you consider the audio edition of How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition to be better than the print version?

    Author/teacher is extremely knowledgeable and knows how to tell story.
    Excellent selection of pieces throughout the book.
    Last segments seemed to be a bit superficial and loose .


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

    Knowledge and skill to convey message very clearly and effectively


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emma 03-08-17
    Emma 03-08-17 Member Since 2016
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    "highly recommend"
    Would you listen to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition again? Why?

    I will listen to this book again. It was so interesting, informative and entertaining. Professor Greenberg is an excellent instructor - very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. I'll be buying more of his music courses.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patsy 02-26-17
    Patsy 02-26-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Music Appreciation at its best"

    Robert Greenberg was entertaining from beginning to end - all 48 lectures! So well informed, not just about the composers and their music, but also the historical context.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-21-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Fantastic and fascinating"

    A rather comprehensive and deeply rewarding tour through Western concert music. The content strikes a perfect balance between history and a detailed description of musical forms. Prof. Greenberg is a delight.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eduardo Ramirez Newark, De United States 02-10-17
    Eduardo Ramirez Newark, De United States 02-10-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Masterful series. "

    This was a great way to learn about music from the last 500 years (with a few stops at the beginning for earlier music.) I went from knowing nothing on the subject to being able to distinguish between classical and romantic era compositions by listening to them. It's a hefty time commitment so I'm not going to jump immediately into another of these series, but they are definitely going on the wishlist.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Piaw Na Silicon Valley, CA USA 02-08-17
    Piaw Na Silicon Valley, CA USA 02-08-17
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    "Worth listening"
    Would you listen to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition again? Why?

    How to Listen to and Understand Great Music is misnamed. It really should be labeled: The structure and form of Western Music. I don't really fault Professor Greenberg for this: it's quite clear to him that "Great Music" is restricted to those composed by Dead White People. I'll admit to mostly being a music philistine: I hated my piano lessons as a kid, and rarely understood the point of Mozart. I labelled all instrumental-only music as "classical".

    Well, Professor Greenberg taught me a lot:

    "Classical" music is actually a misnomer. There's "Baroque", "Classical", "Romanticism", and "Modernism." These labels apply to various epochs roughly corresponding to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Debussy. Each of these epochs had unique characteristics that were reflected in the music. I was actually surprised that I could learn this because at one point during the program Greenberg played a piece of music and asked the listener to guess what epoch it came from and I actually got it right.
    Beethoven really does sound different from any composers before him. His music, unlike that which came before, actually does represent extra-musical content. I tested this by playing a Beethoven symphony to Bowen, who did promptly ask: "What does this music mean?" Which is not a question that usually comes up with other instrumental music.
    Professor Greenberg is a fan of Opera. Despite his immense enthusiasm, I still can't stand it. Despite his picking what he thinks are great musical pieces to listen to, I'm afraid I agree with one of the characters in John Steakley's fabulous novel: "Opera is for vampires. The living prefer rock and roll."

    Dance music (waltzes, etc) is not considered "Great Music", so I don't ever have to listen to them even if I was a music snob.
    Conclusions that Greenberg didn't mention but that I drew for myself:
    The various forms of music (e.g., Sonata Form) were really designed for music that was written in a pre-recorded era. That's why, for instance, Sonata Expositions frequently feature repeats of the themes. In a pre-recording era, you weren't going to listen to a piece of music repeatedly on demand, so each musical piece would have to repeat its themes during the exposition so the audience could hold it in their heads. This practice doesn't stand up in recorded music, since if you were to listen to the pieces repeatedly (e.g., if you listened to any of the numbered symphonies more than once a week), the expositions quickly become boring and feels like the composer's condescending to your intelligence. Greenberg vehemently demands that repeats be played exactly as written (and there's definitely a purist approach where that's correct), but I can definitely see why these already long pieces can't compete with shorter musical forms (e.g., Rock & Roll), which evolved in an era where recorded music that can be (re)played on-demand is the norm.
    Classical music was used as the catch-all for Western instrumental music forms because it was the pop music of the day. The middle class was starting to happen, which meant that regular people could become amateur musicians and learn to play well enough to demand easy-listening pieces.
    The need to express individuality and originality drove composers from Beethoven onwards to slowly abandon the traditional forms of instrumental music. What makes most modern instrumental composers unbearable to most people (e.g., Schoenberg) was when composers completely abandoned tonality.

    I learned a surprising amount over the 42-lecture listen. The biographies of Beethoven, Listz, Tchaikovsky, and other composers were fun and added a lot of life to people behind the music. There were several pieces that I'd never heard before that I made notes to hunt down to listen to, and of course, I discovered that I'm a Beethoven fan and not a Mozart fan.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The piano technology got hugely better from the 1600s to the 1800s. That's why in Mozart's symphonies, whenever the piano played the rest of the orchestra had to pipe down: the piano simply wasn't loud enough to compete with the other instruments in the orchestra. By the time you got to the 1800s the concert grand could hold its own against the orchestra and the symphonies written then didn't have to pipe down the rest of the orchestra as much. I wished Greenberg covered more of this since it would have been interesting to see what other technological changes in instruments affected composition.


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

    Life during the middle ages was tough. One of the composers had 20 children, out of which only 2 survived to adult hood. Many of them died young (Mozart at 35), and even when they were alive had poor health and frequently the medical care hurt them. Greenberg did not shy from providing excellent coverage of the composers' lives, which made them far more interesting as people than I would have thought.


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

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not convinced that Great Music should be restricted to those instrumental pieces constructed in the past. Certainly for today's "repeated listening" environments, I think many popular music genres out-compete the so-called classics for good reason.

    Nevertheless, if you have the time, I'd definitely consider Professor Greenberg's lecture series well worth a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rebecca 01-27-17
    rebecca 01-27-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Soul Food"

    If you want to understand your world in a deeper and more profound way, learn how to listen to great music. Listening to this course is a perfectly lovely way to spend 35 hours.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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