The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music

29 books in series
4.5 out of 5 stars 9,542 ratings

Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion Publisher's Summary

Jazz is a uniquely American art form, one of America's great contributions to not only musical culture, but world culture, with each generation of musicians applying new levels of creativity that take the music in unexpected directions that defy definition, category, and stagnation.

Now you can learn the basics and history of this intoxicating genre in an eight-lecture series that is as free-flowing and original as the art form itself. You'll follow the evolution of jazz from its beginnings in the music and dancing of the antebellum plantations to its morphing into many shapes as its greatest innovators gave us ragtime, the blues, the swing music of the big band era, boogie-woogie, and big band blues.

You'll follow the rise of modern jazz in all of its many forms, including bebop, cool, modal, free, and fusion jazz. And you'll learn how the course of jazz was changed by key technological innovations, such as the invention of the microphone, which allowed smaller-voiced singers like Bing Crosby or Mel Torme to share a limelight once reserved for the bigger voices of stars like Bessie Smith or Al Jolson.

Beginning the story on those antebellum plantations, Professor Messenger reveals how the "cakewalks" of slave culture gave birth to a dance craze at the end of the 19th century that was ignorant of its own humble roots. And he explores the irony of the minstrel shows, which derived from Southern beliefs of black cultural inferiority yet eventually spawned a musical industry that African-American musicians would dominate for decades to come.

As a bonus, the lectures are also very entertaining, with Professor Messenger frequently turning to his piano to illustrate his musical points, often with the help of guest artists.

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

©1995 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1995 The Great Courses
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    • Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion

    • By: Bill Messenger, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Bill Messenger
    • Length: 5 hrs and 59 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 345
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 302
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 300

    Jazz is a uniquely American art form, one of America's great contributions to not only musical culture, but world culture, with each generation of musicians applying new levels of creativity that take the music in unexpected directions that defy definition, category, and stagnation. Now you can learn the basics and history of this intoxicating genre in an eight-lecture series that is as free-flowing and original as the art form itself.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Good introduction, but serious omissions.

    • By MidwestGeek on 02-13-17

    Regular price: $9.95

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

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 36 hrs and 34 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 2,053
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 1,880
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,840

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • A Beginning to a Delinquent Education

    • By Ark1836 on 06-18-15

    Regular price: $59.95

    • The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 24 hrs and 52 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 917
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 837
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 820

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • If they cut off both hands, I will compose music..

    • By Kristi R. on 02-01-15

    Regular price: $52.95

    • Concert Masterworks

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 24 hrs and 53 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 145
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 129
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 129

    Have you ever thought about the creative process that boiled inside geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorák, Strauss, Brahms, Mendelssohn, or Liszt-or any composer, for that matter?What goes through a composer's mind when a musical composition is being set to paper? Are those magical weeks or months spent in an agonizing creative blur of ideas first tried and then discarded, or it a matter of pure inspiration?

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Down the rabbit hole with Dr. G!

    • By JaneN on 11-09-14

    Regular price: $52.95

    • Bach and the High Baroque

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D. University of California Berkeley
    • Length: 25 hrs and 7 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 465
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 419
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 413

    Though unappreciated in his own time, Johann Sebastian Bach has ascended to Olympian heights, the verdict of contemporary audiences long since overruled by succeeding generations of music lovers. But what makes his music great? In this series of 32 lectures, a working composer and musicologist brings his exceptional teaching skills to the task of helping you hear the extraordinary sweep of Bach's music. You'll understand the compositional language that enabled him to compose such extravagant, unbridled music while still maintaining precise control of every aspect - beat, melody, melodic repetition, interaction, and harmony.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Bach Treasure Box Opened by a True Enthusiast

    • By Dickens Groupie on 09-07-13

    Regular price: $52.95

    • The Symphonies of Beethoven

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 24 hrs and 14 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 261
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 239
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 234

    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.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Truly the course materials MUST be made available.

    • By Christopher James on 09-23-14

    Regular price: $52.95

    • How to Listen to and Understand Opera

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 24 hrs and 23 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 523
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 479
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 473

    To watch any opera lover listen to a favorite work, eyes clenched tight in concentration and passion, often betraying a tear, is to be almost envious. What must it be like, you might think, to love a piece of music so much?And now one of music's most gifted teachers is offering you the opportunity to answer that very question, in a spellbinding series of 32 lectures that will introduce you to the transcendentally beautiful performing art that has enthralled audiences for more than 400 years.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Professor Robert Greenberg does it again!

    • By Kristi R. on 09-18-15

    Regular price: $52.95

    • Great Masters: Haydn - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 116
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 104
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 103

    Almost from the moment it was first set to paper, the music of Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) - technically superb, rich in quality, and widely imitated - has exemplified the Classical style, creating not only the Classical-era symphony but setting the standard, through his own 68 string quartets, against which that form has ever after been judged. And yet Haydn, despite the influence left by more than 1000 works, seems to no longer get his due, Now, in a series of eight vivid lectures, you can learn to understand and appreciate the music of one of the most original and influential composers of all time.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Another masterpiece from Greenberg

    • By Amazon Customer on 02-14-15

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Mozart - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 497
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 455
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 451

    Even from the perspective of time, it is nearly impossible to grasp the full contribution made to music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in his brief and glorious life. He composed his first symphony at the age of 8 and reached full artistic maturity by the time he was only 20. And when he died at the age of 35, he left a legacy of more than 600 works of brilliance - symphonies, chamber music, operas, and more - most composed during an incredibly productive 20-year period.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Fantastic summary of this amazing composer.

    • By Paul on 09-23-13

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 12 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 178
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 162
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 162

    Although we often think of an artist's work as a window into their own inner world, that is not always the case.In the life of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, however, we can see perhaps the closest link to be found anywhere between a creative product and the shifting moods of a turbulent soul, which found its outlet through the glorious music created by the great Russian composer.To know his music, you must know the man, and this fast-moving series of eight lectures from an award-winning composer and accomplished teacher offers an insightful look into both the circumstances of Tchaikovsky's life and the impact that life had on his music.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Spectacular

    • By ANDRÉ on 05-17-15

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Stravinsky - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 15 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 89
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 83
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 81

    Stravinsky composed what is arguably one of the two most important musical compositions of the twentieth century, The Rite of Spring. He forged a new "musical language" to portray the sense of the ballet's primitive and earthy theme. More than a dozen excerpts of Stravinsky's works are examined.

    • 3 out of 5 stars
    • Right Up the Middle

    • By Chris Reich on 09-27-14

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Beethoven - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 622
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 569
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 564

    Have you ever wondered how the lives of great composers-especially when set against the social, political, and cultural context of their world-influences their music?After listening to this perceptive series of eight lectures on the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven, you will likely find that you hear his work in an entirely different way, your insight informed by new knowledge of how Beethoven was able to create masterpieces from the crises of his life.You'll learn about the years of progressive hearing loss-ultimately to produce total deafness-and the understandable agony and rage such a fate would bring upon a composer. About his deep depression over the end of his relationship with the woman he calls his Immortal Beloved. About his pathological hatred of authority, his persecution complex, even delusional behaviors.But you'll also learn how each of these crises, and many others, served to drive Beethoven inward, to reinvent himself and redeem his suffering through art, creating disruptive works of profound passion and beauty that reinvented the nature of musical expression in the Western world.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • The strangest rabbit hole yet!

    • By JaneN on 12-02-14

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Mahler - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 152
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 142
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 141

    More than many other composers, Gustav Mahler's works are highly personal expressions of his inner world, a world of overwhelming alienation and loneliness. You'll learn, through both lectures and musical excerpts, how his symphonies are vast repositories of his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual expression that made him the first exponent of Expressionism, the early 20th-century art movement that celebrates inner reality as the only reality - but explored by Mahler using the musical language of the century just ended.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • A Great Survey of Mahler's Life and Major Works

    • By Darwin8u on 11-08-14

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Brahms-His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 7 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 127
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 119
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 118

    Johannes Brahms was a man of contrasts. His serious Teutonic music was balanced by joyful dance music. His kindness to working people with a biting, malicious wit reserved for those he encountered in artistic and aristocratic circles. Yet you can know this enigmatic genius though this 8-lecture series, which uses biographical information and musical commentary to link the complexities of Brahms the man with the electrifying music of Brahms the composer.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • First class introduction to a wonderful composer

    • By Jane on 08-20-13

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Liszt - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 95
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 88
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 86

    More than anyone before him - more than Beethoven, Byron, even the preternatural Paganini - it was Franz Liszt who created one of the most enduring archetypes of the Romantic era: that of the artist "who walks with God and brings down fire from heaven in order to kindle the hearts of humankind." For every lover of music, Liszt remains someone you must understand, and this eight-lecture series is an ideal place to begin your acquaintance with both the man and his music.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • The Greatest Liszt Presentation Ever

    • By TM on 11-24-16

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Robert and Clara Schumann - Their Lives and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 16 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 78
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 69
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 72

    In all the annals of Western music, there has never been a couple like the Schumanns: he a pioneering critic and composer (the only ever to achieve greatness as both), she one of the leading concert pianists of Europe, as well as a composer of no small talent herself. This series of eight lectures by an award-winning composer and acclaimed teacher includes excerpts of works by both of the Schumanns as part of an introduction to an extraordinary couple and the musical legacy left to us in spite of the difficulties that dogged their marriage.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Soap Opera Lives of the Great Masters

    • By Russell Bernard on 06-09-14

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Masters: Shostakovich - His Life and Music

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 184
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 169
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 163

    Dmitri Shostakovich is without a doubt one of the central composers of the 20th century. Drawing on both the flood of declassified documents from the Soviet Union that began in 1991 and Shostakovich's own extraordinarily frank posthumous reminiscences, Professor Greenberg shows how Shostakovich, who, in the words of a friend, "did not want to rot in a prison or a graveyard" was still unwilling to become a docile instrument of the Soviet regime.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Living the Great Terror

    • By Cookie on 08-14-13

    Regular price: $14.95

    • The Operas of Mozart

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 18 hrs and 21 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 171
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 159
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 157

    When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791 at the age of just 35, he nonetheless left behind the defining composition in every available musical genre of his time: symphony, chamber music, masses, and above all - opera. Opera was the prestige genre of the era, and the thought of it, Mozart wrote, made him, "beside myself at once." It was a form he loved dearly, depending on it heavily for personal, professional, artistic, and financial reasons of the greatest weight.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • One of the best values on Audible!

    • By Doggy Bird on 04-06-14

    Regular price: $41.95

    • The Life and Operas of Verdi

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 24 hrs and 21 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 132
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 120
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 118

    The Italians have a word for the sense of dazzling beauty produced by effortless mastery: sprezzatura. And perhaps no cultural form associated with Italy is as steeped in the love of sprezzatura as opera, a genre the Italians invented. No composer has embodied the ideal of sprezzatura as magnificently as Giuseppe Verdi, the gruff, self-described "farmer" from the Po Valley who gave us 28 operas and remains to this day the most popular composer in the genre's 400-year-old history.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Viva Verdi!

    • By Paul on 01-30-15

    Regular price: $52.95

    • The Symphony

    • By: Robert Greenberg, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
    • Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 241
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 210
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 205

    From its humble beginnings in the 17th-century 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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Super Survey of Symphonies

    • By Richard Gunter on 07-02-15

    Regular price: $41.95

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