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From its humble beginnings in the 17th-century Italian opera overture and the Baroque ripieno concerto, the symphony has evolved into one of the longest lived, and perhaps the most expressively inclusive, genres of instrumental music. Along the way, it has embraced nearly every trend to be found in Western concert music.
In this series of twenty-four 45-minute lectures, Professor Greenberg guides you on a survey of the symphony. You'll listen to selections from the greatest symphonies by many of the greatest composers of the past 300 years. You'll also hear selections from some overlooked works that, undeservedly, have been forgotten by contemporary audiences.
Your tour of the symphony includes
The course concludes with an investigation of Dmitri Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony, which became, in Professor Greenberg's words, "a model for what the new, post-Stalin Soviet music might aspire to be-a more personally expressive, less explicitly programmatic work, one that both engaged and challenged its listeners."
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
Greenberg is a superb lecturer who presents the symphony across the centuries in an electrifying and edifying manner. He brings each composer and his work to life. There are composers of whom I had never heard and I am better off now. But for even the familiar ones I have a deeper appreciation.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Symphony the most enjoyable?
I am stunned by the works I have listened to and enjoyed. Even more I am amazed that I have searched and found the Turangalila Symphony and plan to use Dr. G’s lecture to study it. I already like parts of it, but the other parts confuse me or irritate me (but in an interesting way). I think that’s what I appreciate most about this particular course—now I can listen to music and say “I like that” or “I’d like to hear that again” or “That one is still beyond me.” I have three options instead of just “I like it” or “No, no, no!”<br/>
11 of 14 people found this review helpful
this is my third music appreciation course with Professor Greenberg, and I always learn a ton. I highly recommend this course and I feel like I've really learned how to deepen my appreciation of the symphony.
I'm a big fan of Robert Greenberg's lectures on music. The Housemate and I are watching How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, and I've finished his series on J. S. Bach, and -- my personal favorite -- Music as a Mirror of History. As with the latter, this course on symphonies shows us that Professor Greenberg is not just astonishingly well-versed in music, but that he has a remarkable ability to contextualize that music, allowing the listener to understand the influences that helped to create, in this case, individual pieces of work, but in the case of the more general surveys, the entire oeuvre of the composers he covers. A good example, for me anyway, is how Shostakovich, who has never been a big favorite of mine, is put into the context of the composer's life in Soviet Russia, under Stalin (an unenviable position for any artist) and has now become both accessible to me, and someone I actively want to listen to.
I never listen to a Greenberg course without finding that there is some composer or piece of music that now speaks to me where before he/it felt like so much noise. In this survey I came to a greater understanding of Bruckner, a composer I'd sorta enjoyed, but never cared enough to explore more deeply, and discovered that I actually like the music of Charles Ives, Roy Harris, and Samuel Barber. Sadly, even Robert Greenberg hasn't been able to make Hector Berlioz remotely interesting to me. *yawn*
If there is a weakness it grows out of the limitations of the course. There are simply too many symphonies and too many symphonic composers to cover in-depth in any such course. So much has to be edited out, or reduced to a mere mention that it's frustrating to think about how much more we could be learning if there was simply more time. If I could offer a suggestion to the good professor, I would say, please give us a lecture series on more contemporary composers. I want to learn about (just off the top of my head) Henry Cowell, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Joseph Becker, and David Diamond, as well as William Grant Still, and yes, more Shostakovich please! More insight into their work and influences would be appreciated.
If you love classical music, but feel you want to understand more about it, and come to a deeper appreciation of the forces which shape it, you can't do much better than listen to Professor Greenberg.
This is, without a doubt, the most fun audio presentation I've ever had the pleasure of listening to! Understanding what was so great about Beethoven, what Mozart's peers thought of him, what persecution Shostakovich went through in Stalin's Russia makes the music so much richer. Learning was never this interesting when I was in school! Professor Greenberg is more than a captivating narrator, he is a one-man show. I must find more courses by him, no matter the subject!
Professor Greenberg teaches us wonderfully about the best symphonies and symphonists of the history of music.
I've always enjoyed listening to classical music. I honestly never knew the underlying meaning or intent on the composer. Although I still don't know much about the composer nor the world in which he lived in I certainly will listen differently. Thank you for the insights!
Excellent and very interesting information! Fun, enthusiastic lecturer! Now to listen again and try to memorize it all!
Professor Greenberg doesn't excellent job of surveying the symphony over a three century arc. At times, he is a bit over-the-top, but this also keeps it interesting.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
The subjects too lightly organized and handled, it failed to keep attention. Trying too hard to be hip, it didn't work.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful
Superb narrative, appropriate humour, wonderful exerts of the music. Never too complicated or over simplified. All round a masterpiece.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This course covers the symphony as a musical form - how it was formed, the composers who had a major impact on it's subsequent development and it's impact on music generally.
Starting with the early antecedents of the symphony, the overtures to operas, we see how the symphony developed alongside the orchestra, and how composers took up this new form to create some beautiful music. The baroque forms are moulded by Mozart, Haydn and other classical composers to create what is now called the 'classical structure' of the symphony. Then Beethoven comes along and changes everything. From this point onwards, the content of the lecture seems to become fairly repetitive - a discussion of a composer's life, how many symphonies they wrote and then an more in depth look at one of these.
The composers covered range in nationality and period and go right up to Shostokovich. If you are already into music history, I'm sure a lot of this will be known to you. If like me you are fairly new to this, then it is very interesting listening and I was introduced to many new composers I had never heard of.
Now for my criticism, which is that Beethoven is given just one lecture. The lecturer says at the outset of this lecture that he has done a 34 lecture course on Beethoven's symphonies, which is fine but in this course he essentially brushes over the most important development in the history of the symphony, whilst Haydn gets two lectures?! Very strange and seems like a bit of self-promotion. In fact, the lecturer advertises his own other great courses probably six or seven times throughout, which is fine but don't use that as an excuse not to discuss something!
Of course what kind of music you like is subjective, but Beethoven's symphonies are important well beyond just how nice they are, they completely changed the genre and this is clear from various references and quotes given in the course, so it feels like a waste of an opportunity to only discuss them for one lecture.
As a lecturer, Prof. Greenberg is very enthusiastic, funny and engaging. I will be listening to other courses by him for sure.
Overall, I certainly recommend this course and enjoyed listening to it immensely.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful