Beethoven's Piano Sonatas

Course No. 7250
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 7250
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Course Overview

Beethoven was a revolutionary man living in a revolutionary time. He captured his inner voice—demons and all—and the spirit of his time, and in doing so, created a body of music the likes of which no one had ever before imagined. "An artist must never stand still," he once said. A virtuoso at the keyboard, Beethoven used the piano as his personal musical laboratory, and the piano sonata became, more than any other genre of music, a place where he could experiment with harmony, motivic development, the contextual use of form, and, most important, his developing view of music as a self-expressive art.

Pushing the Piano to Its Limit and Beyond

Spanning the length of his compositional career, Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas provide a window into his personal musical development, and they show the concept of the piano as an instrument and the piano sonata as a genre undergoing an extraordinary evolution.

The sonatas are not simply compositions for the piano, but are about the developing technology of the piano itself, an evolving instrument that Beethoven pushed to its limits and then beyond, ultimately writing music for an idealized piano that didn't come into existence until some 40 years after his death.

An Engaging and Exhilarating Professor

As in his previous courses, Professor Greenberg combines his perceptive analyses of musical excerpts with historical anecdotes, metaphors, and humor. He shows what goes on inside a musical composition: how it came to be written, how it works, and how—as is often the case with Beethoven—it may break all the rules to achieve a new and powerful effect. This course is somewhat technical and although musical knowledge is helpful, it is not necessary.

Popular, Experimental, Revolutionary, Shocking

Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas include some of his most popular works as well as some of his most experimental. This course touches on every one of these fascinating pieces, approaching them chronologically, from the terse and powerful first sonata of 1795 to the revolutionary Hammerklavier Sonata of 1818 and the radical last three sonatas of 1820–1822.

In addition to the Hammerklavier, you will explore in detail the other sonatas that, by virtue of their popularity or other special qualities, have been bestowed with evocative nicknames. These include:

  • Pathétique (Piano Sonata no. 8 in C Minor, op. 13): The modern popularity of this piece has obscured its shocking originality, which led a contemporary to characterize Beethoven's work as "lots of crazy stuff."
  • Funeral March (Piano Sonata no. 12 in A-Flat, op. 26): Beethoven's first 11 piano sonatas challenged and eventually broke the bonds of the 18th-century Classical style. In this work, he fully embraced a genuinely experimental, avant-garde approach to the sonata.
  • Moonlight (Piano Sonata no. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, op. 27, no. 2): The composer Hector Berlioz wrote that the haunting first movement of this famous work is "one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify."
  • Tempest (Piano Sonata no. 17 in D Minor, op. 31, no. 2): Although Shakespeare's The Tempest reportedly inspired this sonata, the thematic parallels between the two works are elusive. But like the title of Shakespeare's play, Beethoven's sonata must qualify as one of the most expressively "tempestuous" in the repertoire.
  • Farewell (Piano Sonata no. 26 in E-Flat, op. 81a): Also known as Les Adieux and Das Lebewohl, this programmatic work commemorates the departure from and return to Vienna of Beethoven's close friend Archduke Rudolph.

Not all of Beethoven's greatest piano sonatas have nicknames. The last three are conventionally known by their opus numbers—109, 110, and 111—and are among Beethoven's most pathbreaking works.

"Oh, to Have Heard Him Play!"

Beethoven first achieved fame as a thrilling and unorthodox pianist who treated the piano, according to his contemporaries, in an "entirely new manner."

"When Beethoven played, expression always came first," says Professor Greenberg. "Beethoven was no more capable of slavish adherence to a steady beat than he was able to follow the constructs and rituals of Classicism. Oh, to have heard him play!"

To be present while Beethoven played was considered by contemporaries to be a revelatory experience. Johann Wenzel Tomaschek, a rival piano virtuoso, observed: "Beethoven's magnificent phrasing and particularly the daring of his improvisation stirred me strangely to the depths of my soul; indeed, I found myself so profoundly bowed down that I did not touch my piano for several days."

Piano manufacturers saw things differently. According to Andreas Streicher, Beethoven was so violent at the keyboard that he was "unworthy of imitation. ... He carries on in a fiery manner, and treats his instrument like a man who, bent on revenge, has his archenemy in his hands and, with cruel relish, wants to torture him slowly to death."

Nonetheless, once he became famous, Beethoven rarely if ever had to buy his own pianos, as piano builders vied with each other to lend him instruments. Nor did Beethoven let shortcomings of contemporary pianos limit his creativity. In his Piano Sonata no. 7 in D, op. 10, no. 3, he expands two musical phrases into high and low registers that didn't exist on the keyboards of the day.

Transferring Despair into Musical Action

Beethoven's childhood was dominated by abuse and loss. Already a bundle of gastric ailments and psychological neuroses, he went deaf over the course of his young and middle adulthood. He was desperately unlucky in love. Desiring a child, he did everything in his power to steal his nephew Karl from the boy's mother; when he succeeded, Karl attempted suicide.

As he entered his final decade, Beethoven became genuinely paranoid. And yet, says Professor Greenberg, Beethoven translated his experience into action—musical action—by composing pieces that by some amazing alchemy universalized his problems and his solutions.

Analyzing Beethoven's "Game"

Professor Greenberg analyzes many musical passages, taking you note-by-note, phrase-by-phrase through different movements of the sonatas, showing how Beethoven plans and achieves his surprising effects. Beethoven paid scrupulous attention to all aspects of his compositions, and Professor Greenberg elucidates these features and brings them vividly to life, such as thematic development, tempo, large-scale dramatic progression, and psychological manipulation by the performer.

You will learn a wealth of musical vocabulary: terms such as Viennese Classical style, sonata form, theme and variations, exposition, modulating bridge, recapitulation, cadence, minuet, rondo, fugue, and scherzo.

What You Will Hear: Extraordinary Performances by a Celebrated Pianist

Beethoven died 50 years before the invention of sound recording, so we will never hear his voice or the sound of his playing.

You will hear literally hundreds of excerpts of Maestro Claude Frank's recordings over the span of the course. Frank's recording of the 32 sonatas was originally released for the Beethoven bicentennial in 1970, and was hailed as "one of the year's 10 best" by Time magazine.

Truly, Beethoven's piano music is his voice, emerging from his mind, through his fingers, to our ears and hearts. And his piano sonatas are, more than any other of his amazing works, his personal testament, expressed in his own voice.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 45 minutes each
  • 1
    Beethoven and the Piano
    Professor Greenberg introduces the course with a brief biography of Beethoven and the early history of the piano followed by a discussion of the recordings of Beethoven's piano sonatas used throughout the course, performed by the distinguished pianist Claude Frank. x
  • 2
    Homage to Mozart
    This lecture explores the Classical style that Beethoven inherited from Haydn and Mozart, highlighting some of its more notable features. Then we look at Beethoven's Piano Sonata no. 1 in F Minor, op. 2, no. 1, from 1795, as both an homage to Mozart and an example of Beethoven's pianistic audacity. x
  • 3
    The Grand Sonata, Part 1
    Beethoven's first four piano sonatas are four-movement works that are orchestral in scope, reflecting Beethoven's concept of the piano as a major instrument. We look at the second of his opus 2 set—Sonata no. 2 in A—as an example of these "grand sonatas." x
  • 4
    The Grand Sonata, Part 2
    Continuing our study of Beethoven's grand sonatas, we examine Sonata no. 3 in C, no. 3, op. 2, and Sonata no. 4 in E flat, op. 7. In both these works, we see Beethoven's early artistic declaration that he was not interested in slavishly following the Classical tradition. x
  • 5
    Meaning and Metaphor
    In his three opus 10 sonatas, Beethoven continues his formula of composing a triad of starkly different works, ranging from darkly passionate to witty to grand. We look at the first of these pieces: Piano Sonata no. 5 in C Minor. x
  • 6
    The Striking and Subversive, Op. 10 Continued
    Piano Sonata no. 6 in F, op. 10, no. 2 remained a special favorite of Beethoven's for many years after its composition. We examine the elements that make it seem so playful, before turning to the grander work that concludes the opus 10 set: Piano Sonata no. 7 in D. x
  • 7
    The Pathétique and the Sublime
    We focus on one of Beethoven's most popular piano sonatas: no. 8 in C Minor, op. 13 (Pathétique). Professor Greenberg shows how time and popularity can trivialize even the most revolutionary creation, rendering us immune to what was once considered new and shocking. x
  • 8
    The Opus 14 Sonatas
    Beethoven's music can be supple, light-hearted, quick-witted, and genuinely humorous, just as it can be heroic, magnificent, and spiritually profound. Beethoven's lighter side is delightfully on display in his two opus 14 piano sonatas: no. 9 in E and no. 10 in G. x
  • 9
    Motives, Bach and a Farewell to the 18th Century
    We focus almost entirely on the first movement of Piano Sonata no. 11 in B flat, op. 22, to understand Beethoven's developing compositional priorities and the influence of Bach on his music. Written in 1800, this work is in many ways Beethoven's farewell to the 18th-century Viennese Classical style. x
  • 10
    A Genre Redefined
    From this point on, each of Beethoven's piano sonatas is markedly different from what came before it. No. 12 in A flat, op. 26 (Funeral March) shows a remarkable degree of contrast between its movements and has, as its third movement, an anguished funeral march. x
  • 11
    Sonata quasi una fantasia—The Moonlight
    The most popular of all of Beethoven's piano works is his Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 (Moonlight). Imbued with tragic feeling, the Moonlight is almost impossible not to relate to the composer's progressive hearing loss. x
  • 12
    Lesser Siblings and a Pastoral Interlude
    We study two underappreciated works: Sonata no. 13 in E flat, op. 27, no. 1 continues Beethoven's assault on the Classical sonata template, while Sonata no. 15 in D, op. 28 (Pastoral) is a revolutionary work that elevates musical pastoral clichés to a high art. x
  • 13
    The Tempest
    While the groundbreaking Third Symphony was Beethoven's public declaration of his "new path" as a composer, the piano sonatas were, collectively, his workshop for getting there—none more so than Sonata no. 17 in D Minor, op. 31, no. 2 (Tempest). x
  • 14
    A Quartet of Sonatas
    We explore the other two opus 31 sonatas: no. 16 in G (which literally saved the life of pianist Claude Frank) and no. 18 in E flat. We also look at the opus 49 pair: no. 19 in G Minor and no. 20 in G; both were published against Beethoven's wishes and have since become favorites of young players. x
  • 15
    The Waldstein and the Heroic Style
    Piano Sonata no. 21 in C, op. 53 (Waldstein) is like no other music written by Beethoven or anyone else. We study this remarkable piece—from its unrelenting opening theme to its breathtaking prestissimo ("as fast as possible") conclusion. x
  • 16
    The Appassionata and the Heroic Style
    Likened to Dante's Inferno and Shakespeare's King Lear, Sonata no. 23 in F Minor, op. 57 (Appassionata) is not only esteemed by audiences, it was also one of Beethoven's favorites among his piano works. With the Waldstein, it is a quintessential example of Beethoven's "heroic" style. x
  • 17
    They Deserve Better, Part 1
    We examine two Beethoven sonatas that deserve more attention than they are generally accorded: no. 22 in F, op. 54, and no. 24 in F sharp, op. 78. The former is an inspired, virtuosic, and genuinely experimental piece of music; the latter is one of the strangest and most adventurous works in the repertoire. x
  • 18
    They Deserve Better, Part 2
    Continuing our exploration of Beethoven's often overlooked piano sonatas, we study no. 25 in G, op. 79, and no. 27 in E Minor, op. 90. The opening movement of op. 79 is a parody of Classically styled piano sonatas, while op. 90 opens with great pathos and tenderness. x
  • 19
    The Farewell Sonata
    Piano Sonata no. 26 in E flat, op. 81a (Les Adieux) was dedicated to the Archduke Rudolph, an aristocratic patron and friend of Beethoven's who was fleeing Vienna ahead of Napoleon's armies—hence, the Farewell Sonata. We look at the piece as a mirror of contemporary events and as program music. x
  • 20
    Experiments in a Dark Time
    Piano Sonata no. 28 in A, op. 101, is unique among Beethoven's 32 in that he had someone else's hands and spirit in mind when he composed it—namely his brilliant student Baroness Dorothea von Ertmann. It is also one of Beethoven's most rigorous and experimental works composed to that point in his life. x
  • 21
    The Hammerklavier, Part 1
    Piano Sonata no. 29 in B flat, op. 106 (Hammerklavier) was the groundbreaking work—the first masterpiece—of Beethoven's late period. It is the most virtuosic keyboard music ever written to its time. In this lecture, we cover the first of its four movements. x
  • 22
    The Hammerklavier, Part 2
    We continue our study of the Hammerklavier, focusing on the paradoxical fourth movement fugue, composed seemingly without limits or limitations. The Hammerklavier has been called "monstrous and immeasurable," a sonata like no other. With it, Beethoven opened the door to a new expressive world. x
  • 23
    In a World of His Own
    Beethoven's last three piano sonatas owe much to his epic Missa Solemnis ("Solemn Mass") which was also composed in the period 1820–1822. We explore the spiritual and compositional links to the Missa Solemnis, particularly as they relate to sonatas no. 30 in E, op. 109, and no. 31 in A flat, op. 110. x
  • 24
    Beethoven completed his final piano sonata, no. 32 in C Minor, op. 111, in 1822—five years before his death. Opus 111 seems obviously Beethoven's valedictory statement for the genre; it ties up loose ends, yet it is so stunningly original that it caps, rather than continues, the composer's run of 32 sonatas for piano. x

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Your professor

Robert Greenberg

About Your Professor

Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
Dr. Robert Greenberg is Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Greenberg holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has seen his compositions—which include more than 45 works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles—performed all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles,...
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Beethoven's Piano Sonatas is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 63.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding lecturer! The Robert Greenberg lectures are wonderful! As he feeds the listener extensive details on the life and music of Beethoven he injects humorous asides that keep you chuckling and wanting more. A chronological look at the music includes numerous excerpts, quotes from experts of musicology and his own analysis that give the listener a real appreciation of the man and his piano sonatas.
Date published: 2018-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Listening Experience I purchased the two volumes of the Beethoven piano sonatas in Bonn and watched these videos with the music in hand. I enjoyed every video and learned an untold amount of information I had not known previously. The lecturer was obviously intelligent and informed. I liked his sense of humor and his enthusiasm for his subject. I will eventually watch this set of videos again.
Date published: 2018-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great This is the second course I have heard given by Professor G. dedicated exclusively to Beethoven, the first being his biography (which although good, I found to be the Professor’s least satisfying biography in TGC). In this course, he explores Beethoven’s evolution as a composer as mirrored in this genre: from a “quasi-classical” composer in the early pieces, to a provocatively romantic innovator, and finally in the late sonatas to Beethoven writing in a silent world of his own. The coverage was absolutely first rate in terms of its musical analysis and its integration with Beethoven’s evolution as a composer – driven by his own personal biography, by the historical events taking place in the background (the Napoleonic conquests, the age of nationalism and romanticism), and by the more general trends affecting concert musical style. He explains in a manner I found very satisfying why this genre is so “Beethovenian” – why it embodies to such an extent himself and why he was almost the last major composer to invest so heavily in this genre (literally exhausting it). Obviously, some of the pieces are among the most famous and beloved in the repertoire, but others are less known. Hearing Professor GReenberg's analysis of them was was very fulfilling for me - because he was often able to express in words feelings thatr I felt while listening to the music, yet not being able to put a finger on them or understand how Beethoven trechinically managed to evoke them. My only criticism is that he did not have enough time to cover all of the sonatas in enough depth. More time would have gone a long way. Overall – another fascinating and wonderful course by Professor Greenberg.
Date published: 2018-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I have been listening to these sonatas for decades, yet these highly entertaining lectures have provided me with remarkable insights. I give these lectures my strongest possible recommendation.
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Greenberg's best It is difficult for me to write a less than stellar review of one of Robert Greenberg's courses, as I have really come to enjoy him and his teaching style. My love for concert music has been significantly enhanced by listening to and watching his lectures. In this series, however, the depth of discussion Greenberg takes the listener into is very deep, much too deep for a non-professional listener of Betthoven's music. WHile I did learn quite a bit, much went over my head. In addition, there is more than a little bit of points where he disagrees with other critics, and while that is OK, I would much rather just listen to the pieces and determine for myself without Bob Greenberg's coloring. He also takes too much time rehashing a number of stories about Beethoven that by now, I have heard more than a few times in other lectures. This really is much more equivalent to a masters level course, and definitely not for one just starting to appreciate concert music.
Date published: 2018-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Music, Great Teacher! My wife and I are both trained musicians, and I was a professional musician for 45 years. We have several of Greenberg’s courses, History of Opera, Bach, twenty-three piano works, Chamber Music of Mozart and Beethoven Piano Sonatas. We find them accurate, informative, educational but Very Entertaining, and the seem written clearly enough for the most uninformed beginner. I can’t imagine anything better for the informed and particularly for the uninformed. He is an enthusiastic lecturer. We have three bookshelves of Courses, and love them all, but I think we love Greenberg best of all.
Date published: 2017-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great learning experience I have become a fan of Dr. Greenberg' music lectures. They are both informative and very interesting. His presentation is perfect for anyone, but particularly valuable for neophyte concert attendees.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Love the Beethoven Piano Sonatas even more. For sometime I have loved Beethoven's Sonatas. Hearing Prof. Greenberg tell the stories about Beethoven and the stories around the sonatas increases my enjoyment of the great music of Beethoven. Prof. Greenberg is a great teacher who loves his subject.
Date published: 2017-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg strikes again Listened to almost all Prof Greenberg's courses. I cannot claim to understand everything, but I love when he gets so passionate about unusual key areas and unique key amatuers dont get that excited about them (because we dont hear them I guess!) I am starting to disagree with the Professor on certain things, which I think is awesome. Prof Greenberg has made me a critical listener, and I now form my own opinions, so I think that is the greatest acheivement of a teacher. This is a great course for an advanced listener, beginners should start with How to Listen to Great Music.
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Greenberg is always informative and entertaining. He knows and loves music and it shows. He is our first choice to put in our car's CD player when we are traveling.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beethoven's Great Sontanan's Well written a glossary would be useful. Though is a great course! Well worth your time.
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Greenberg Tirumph I love this professor, who constantly surprises with clever phrases. And I wanted to know more about this sonatas, which, unfortunately, I am not a good enough pianist to play. I did learn a lot about them however (making me even more unhappy that I can't play them), and Greenberg even has something enlightening to say about the "Moonlight" and other highly familiar ones. If you have some knowledge of music and a liking for Beethoven (who doesn't?), buy this course and listen to it at least twice! I'm now headed for the string quartets of Beethoven course (a second llistening).
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beethoven piano sonatas I love all the music courses. I'm a pianist and these course have given me so information. Robert Greenberg g is an excellent professor. He makes everything so interesting and he explains everything thoroughly. My only request is that he do some courses on Fredryk Chopin. I'm working on his etudes and a nocturne. I'd love to learn about his life and music too.
Date published: 2016-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beethoven's Piano Sonatas A highly entertaining course masterly taught and presented. The visuals were excellent. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg on the sonatas is a winner I'm a fan of Prof. Greenberg's courses and this is a very good one. It got me to listen again to those i knew (or thought i knew) pretty well and gave me quite a new appreciation of them. As i hoped, the course also helped me to get a better grip on the ones i had paid little or no attention to. In this course, Prof. Greenberg has a particularly good balance between technical explanations of the music--key changes and the like--and the place of the sonatas in Beethoven's oeuvre. He takes it easy with the New Jersey jokes and baseball references, but there are enough to keep the tone light (i like them, anyway).
Date published: 2015-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Robert Greenberg Is A Treasure I've listened and then re-listened to many of Professor Greenberg's Great Courses series. He's witty, immensely entertaining and above all, a master of getting students inside the greatest music in our culture. He's helped me become a better listener and a true lover of great orchestral music. And since I tend to listen to his lectures mostly at the gym, he's actually made me look forward to exercising. What a guy! In short, he will make your life better.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding I have bought and listened to almost a dozen of Greenberg's courses and have given them ratings all the way from one star to five. This one is, in my view, incontestably a top, five star course. The main reason is that it is almost all about the music. When Greenberg goes deeply into the music, discusses and explains it in detail, and helps the learner understand its special and beautiful nature, he always excels. And he does so abundantly here. Of course, the music itself is extraordinary. As Greenberg teaches, it even surpasses the keyboard music of the only close "competition," that of Bach. The music and the experience of learning it here are really remarkable. It was extra special for me in that while I have had great exposure to Beethoven's symphonies, concerti, and string quartets, I have only meaningfully heard some of the most popular and regularly played sonatas. So, I was able to explore music of the master that was basically new to me. What a treasure. They're all absolutely fine, but I appreciate especially Greenberg's teaching of the early sonatas to understand the break they represented, the sonatas of maturity including the Pathetique, the Tempest, and the Waldstein, and the amazing later sonatas, including the Farewell, the Hammerklavier, and Opus 111. The notes are stunningly good, especially the extremely helpful WordScore guides. My only reservation in this otherwise pure rave is the good teacher's persistent shtick of trying to be cute with kitschy metaphors and comparisons. I get the desire to be funny, but Greenberg's strength is in the music, not in weak, jokey cultural allusions. But, happily for all, the course is 95 percent music, and at that Greenberg is superb.
Date published: 2015-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worthwhile! In this series of 24 lectures, Professor Robert Greenberg thoroughly and energetically examines each of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. Though it may prove a bit challenging to the non specialist, he interestingly places greater emphasis on musical analysis than on historical or biographical contexts. As usual, only musical excerpts are included in the lectures and listeners may be well advised to insert the full musical works (purchased elsewhere) into their playlist. This production is on par with the best by Professor Greenberg and is recommended without restriction.
Date published: 2014-06-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't buy this course Despite having a very extensive musical education, and having played some of these sonatas, I could not follow this course. First of all the professor talks way, way too fast. I listened to lecture #2 twice - and repeated some sections - and still got lost for the last part of that lecture. Each 45 minute lecture should have been split into to 30 minute ones. Secondly, instead of showing a bust of Beethoven, the DVD should have shown the score for the music, with highlighting of where in the score the piano was. IF you are going to produce a DVD, make use of the medium! The Teaching Company should be ashamed of itself publishing this as a DVD! Thirdly, the "word score" in the book which came with the course was poorly coordinated with the lecture. It was hard to find the word-scores. This is the worst course I have ever bought from the Teaching Company.
Date published: 2012-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Greenberg delivers another winner I really enjoy Greenberg and expected to get a lot from this course -- and I did. He mixes his deep and interesting discussion of the music with well-told glimpses into the life and personality of Beethoven, and the result is a delight. I have listened many times to the Beethoven piano sonatas. I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of them individually and as a body of work. I think that any music lover will get a lot from this course. I think as well, as I did with Greenberg's course on Beethoven's string quartets, that if you understand music theory and music notation, you'll get even more. I'm ignorant of music theory and notation. I hear the structure of the passages as Greenberg describes them, but I don't really get the detailed terminology. No matter -- Beethoven's art comes across clearly and beautifully.
Date published: 2012-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastic and entertaining lecturer This course about Beethoven's Piano Sonata is very thorough and analytic while simultaneously being enjoyable and entertaining due to its very enthusiastic and knowledgeable lecturer, who keeps things serious enough when need be then lightens up the darkness with his humorous anecdotes. Although I have a basic musical background, but not in music theory and composition, I was able to follow most of the descriptions because of his easy descriptions and definitions, even in this series of sonatas which did not follow any typical format for sonatas, particularly as Beethoven's career progresses. Enough mixture of background history to keep things interesting, but a definite focus on the construct and content of the sonatas in light of that background. Definitely would recommend for anyone with piano experience, significant musical background, or a love of Beethoven's life and works.
Date published: 2012-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favorite I've listened to almost all of Greenberg's lectures. This series is my personal favorite. Don't expect an easy waltz through Vienna with this one. He gets down and dirty, looking into details that will astound and amaze. If you don't play the piano, you will want to after hearing these. Even if you aren't a musician, your listening appreciation of these 32 works will become, after taking in the professor's analyses, a totally different experience.
Date published: 2011-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent value for non-specialists like myself. I am not a professional musician nor do I have any training in music. I can barely read a musical score and I have not had the benefit of music courses in high school or college. However, I do love classical music and decided to order this course. Upon my second go-through I find this course very interesting, extremely useful, and quite informative in helping me understand and appreciate the nuances of these magnificent sonatas. I have other courses by Dr. Greenberg and this one has lived up to my expectations. One reviewer from Dubai, a Mr. 'Ali2000', mentioned something about this music not being for shallow people etc. To my mind these sonatas are akin to reading and pondering philosophy. There are different levels of appreciation depending upon one's musical acumen. Therefore I believe everyone can benefit from this course. Yes, even unsophisticated listeners like myself will find treasure in this course. For the price (when on sale), this is a bargain. I am still lost in many parts of this course but I just keep at it, read up on terms and concepts, and plough on. Well worth the effort. Thank you TGC, Dr. Greenberg, and last but not least - A BIG THANK YOU to BEETHOVEN.
Date published: 2011-11-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed over shallow analysis :( I have Mr Greenberg's other courses and I am huge fan of him, but his new teachings like this course, is total disappointment, it is just a commercial product to get the "Beethoven Piano Sonatas" and fill the market need. No more blackboard and chalk and extensive analysis, I have watched a few DVDs, and it is so boring and unuseful that I cannot continue watching it. It is just skimming the sonatas and telling a story about it. I miss Greenberg's old courses where he would dive deep into the subject and elements in a single piece of measure. If Mr Greenberg thinks that his main listeners and fans are non-musician people, so he wants to make it very shallow and simple, he should think twice! This music is for deep people, and they need deeper analysis!
Date published: 2011-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo! For me as a pianist and piano teacher this lectures came in handy. The sonatas are theoretically well explained (for the scope of 24 lectures, of course), given background information and most importantly Greenberg explains what lies behind the notes, the feelings, the atmosphere, the intentions of the composer. Superb!
Date published: 2011-09-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for me I'll start by saying the presenter is amazingly knowledgeable and engaging. But I made a mistake in taking the course. I enjoy listening to classical music, but am not a musician. I thought it would be nice to learn about Beethoven's sonatas, but by the time I had been dragged through every phrase and movement in the structure of sonata after sonata, I never wanted to hear one again. If you are a musician or really want to know the minute details of how the great man put his sonatas together, this would be a good class for you. Otherwise, spend the money on some good recordings and just listen to the music.
Date published: 2011-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Seeing Beyond the Mannered Presentation Oh dear - I love the content of these lectures which is far more memorable than Daniel Baremboim's - but darling Robert, please subdue your act a little - it does get in the way of the excellent content. I am British, so it gets in the way of the content a heck of a lot, in fact.
Date published: 2011-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from terrific i mean, what can I add. This prof was terrific and the information was great. I'd never taken any course in music or art appreciation although I am a musician and a Beethoven fanatic. This was great stuff.
Date published: 2011-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and fun Obviously you don't need to do any courses to enjoy Beethoven's piano sonatas. However, I guarantee you that you will appreciate them even more if you do take this course.
Date published: 2011-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't be more satisfied As an undergraduate and cello performer for more than 10 years, I would undoubtfully recommend Dr. Greenberg's courses to anyone who, like me, wants to get the most of their everyday's driving/spare time to collect and learn an incredible amount of processed data in such a short time and get to know the facts of repertoire that, as a musician, it's unavoidable to hear/reach/perform. I'm aware of the "cost" of deep and well prepared research, and would encourage anyone to participate on the richness of the information shared, and the excellent via Dr Greenberg guide us through. All of these courses have been amazingly helpful for me, and cannot wait to hear for the next one.
Date published: 2011-01-11
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