Chamber Music of Mozart

Course No. 7237
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 7237
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Course Overview

What made Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart perhaps the most complete "musical package" in history—a man who created more masterpieces of virtually every musical genre of his day than any other composer before or since? There is perhaps no better way to explore this question than by studying his chamber music. Nowhere is Mozart's maturity and mastery more apparent than in the chamber music he wrote during the last 10 years of his life.

Hear, Study, and Enjoy "A Blessing of Inconceivable Richness"

This is an opportunity to study and enjoy a variety of chamber works drawn primarily from Mozart's "golden years" in Vienna, 1781–1791. The centerpiece of the course is the set of six Haydn string quartets that Mozart dedicated to his friend, the great Joseph Haydn. Across the span of the course, you will explore works that represent the three types of chamber music that Mozart composed:

  • Any chamber group consisting, in whole or in part, of a string quartet: two violins, a viola, and a cello.
  • The "piano plus" combination: works for keyboard and some other instrument or instruments.
  • Everything else: combinations that employ neither a string quartet nor a piano.
Professor Robert Greenberg collectively refers to these chamber works as "a blessing of inconceivable richness." The following are a few of the masterpieces he discusses:
  • String Quartet in G Major, K. 387. The first of Mozart's Haydn Quartets, this is a miracle of technique, taste and imagination, part-writing, and perfect proportions.
  • Quintet in E-flat Major for Piano, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon, K. 452. This is one of the great masterworks of the chamber repertoire; as brilliant an example of instrumentation and part-writing as ever written.
  • Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478, and Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493. These pieces display a grandness of conception that reflects the symphony hall as much as it does the chamber music salon. They are among Professor Greenberg's favorite pieces of music: "real desert island stuff."
  • String Quartet in C Major, K. 465. This Dissonant Quartet is the last of the Haydn Quartets. Its introduction combines so many dissonant elements that it sparked an ongoing controversy about whether the music might have been misprinted.
  • Adagio in C Minor, and Rondo in C Major for Glass Harmonica Quintet, K. 617. An odd and wonderful piece, this is the last chamber music Mozart composed. Its haunting quality distinguishes it from almost anything else in Mozart's chamber music repertoire.

Inside Mozart's Life and Music

In The Chamber Music of Mozart, Professor Greenberg does for you what even someone as knowledgeable in music as that great composer and friend of Mozart's, Joseph Haydn, had to do to fully appreciate Mozart's brilliance: sit down with his music and examine it. Professor Greenberg takes you deep inside the structure of Mozart's chamber masterworks to reveal his hand at work.

You will learn the basic language that all 18th-century composers used to write their music. In addition, you will explore the subtleties of Mozart's technique as a composer: his ability to make art artless—music that is enormously complex and sophisticated but sounds effortless—and to know how and when to bend or break the rules of composition to create music that at times confused or even disturbed his audiences but would endure forever.

Finally, this course is a delightful blend of music analysis and appreciation, and biographical narration. Professor Greenberg covers significant aspects of Mozart's life, from birth to death. You will shake your head in disbelief at Mozart's unique musical talent. In the summer of 1788, in financial trouble and under pressure to make money, Mozart wrote eight major works—three symphonies, two piano trios, a piano sonatas, a string quartet, and a sonata for piano and violin—all in less than two months.

And you will smile to realize that someone as renowned as Mozart lived a life that, not infrequently, was all too human. Count Karl Joseph Felix Arco, attempting to persuade Mozart to return to his job as a court musician in Salzburg, became so frustrated at Mozart's obstinate demands that he literally booted him out of the room.

How to Understand Mozart's "Craft"

"Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. He has taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition."
—Joseph Haydn to Mozart's father, Leopold, after hearing a performance of the B-flat Major Quartet, K. 458, in 1785.

Much of the course can be considered an exploration of this astonishing compliment, which nearly buckled Leopold Mozart's knees. What did Haydn recognize that prompted him to declare Mozart "the greatest composer known to me" (including the great Haydn himself)? What does the phrase "the most profound knowledge of composition" mean when it comes from someone of Haydn's musical acumen?

To understand these questions, Professor Greenberg first makes sure that you have the tools you need to appreciate Mozart's chamber music as Haydn, or any aficionado of the time, had. He defines chamber music and explains how it was usually performed. He provides the necessary historical context: Mozart's chamber music was music of the Classical period, which was shaped by Enlightenment thinking, and reached its zenith in the Viennese Classicism of roughly 1770 to 1800.

Then, as he will do with the other works in this course, Professor Greenberg "deconstructs" the very piece that so astonished Haydn, Mozart's B-flat Major Quartet, also known as the Hunt Quartet for the hunting-horn character of its first theme. Playing recorded passages and demonstrating at the piano, he explains Mozart's use of the four essential forms of Classical music: theme and variations, minuet and trio, rondo, and sonata form. These were the building blocks required to construct any genre of music during the Classical period.

In this way, you will understand Mozart's craft: the required internal structure, or blueprint, that Mozart and all other composers were expected to follow as they created a piece of Classical chamber music.

How to Understand Mozart's Art

Professor Greenberg's other goal is to help you understand Mozart's art. He shows you the details of Mozart's technique, "where dwells both God and Mozart," as he describes it, and which set Mozart apart from other composers.

Luckily, we are in an even better position to understand this than were Mozart's contemporaries. Contrary to popular belief, in Mozart's day his major works were never perceived as "Enlightenment-era easy listening." They were widely admired, but often considered difficult, pushing the boundary of musical coherence as it was then understood.

The composer and critic Max Graf complained that Mozart "aims too high in his artful and truly beautiful compositions in order to be ‘new.' " The composer and violinist Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf wrote of Mozart: "I have yet to find any composer possessing such an astonishing richness of new ideas. However, I could wish that he were not so spendthrift with them."

The early lectures will give you a conceptual and analytical vocabulary that will enable you to evaluate these criticisms, and study Mozart's work in detail throughout the course. You will learn to recognize his inspired use of such compositional techniques as syncopation, diminution, dissonance, uneven phrasing, and unexpected changes of key. These were touches that Mozart's contemporaries had trouble appreciating, either because they were too dazzled by his musical surfaces to examine the depth of his craft, or because they could not envision the new frontiers that his work represented.

Understanding Mozart's art will also improve your understanding of what it takes to compose great music in general, whether it's Classical music or another style. Mozart exemplifies the fact that good composing is not only about inventing pretty tunes, which Mozart could certainly do, but in varying, developing, and connecting thematic ideas so that, like good storytelling, they progress in a way that makes sense.

The Man Behind the Music

In many ways, Mozart's life was also a work of art. His career, and the course of his life, didn't simply happen by virtue of his exceptional ability. Instead, Mozart composed them, shaping them through vision, hard work, and unswerving belief in his ability.

With Professor Greenberg, you will follow the highlights and pivotal events of Mozart's life, many of which demonstrate how Mozart took control of his destiny. At 25, determined to move to Vienna, he took the unprecedented move of writing a petition asking for permission to resign from his job under the imperious Archbishop Hieronymus von Colloredo, Archbishop of Salzburg. His decision to write chamber music was not only artistic, but pragmatic: Chamber music was extremely popular in Vienna, and would be easy money for someone who could compose as quickly as he. And in his mature career, he refused to simplify his music to suit popular taste. This decision hurt him financially—his piano quartets and string quintets never sold well in his day—but gave posterity a priceless collection of masterpieces.

Professor Greenberg brings Mozart's experiences to life by reading frequently from his letters, and from first-hand accounts of those who knew him. You will find Mozart the man to be as surprising and deceptively complex as Mozart the musician. He was a passionate billiard player who was more excited at the arrival of a famous billiard star in Vienna than of a famous musician (he knew the latter would come to him, but that he would have to seek out the former). He was a composer who wrote brilliantly for any instrument but who, as a child, was frightened of the trumpet and, as an adult, hated the flute.

Although his music often soared to lofty heights, Mozart was too often given to pettiness in his personal dealings. "I can never resist making a fool of someone," he admitted. The horn player Joseph Leutgeb, whom Mozart considered a friend and admired as a musician, was a favorite patsy. On one occasion, Mozart threw sheet music all around the room for the simple pleasure of watching Leutgeb collect it on hands and knees.

As with any discussion of Mozart's life, you will hear accounts of his musical genius. Mozart literally composed works in his head, without writing down the notes, and could retain entire acts of an opera in his memory, note for note. He wrote relatively simple works, like opera recitatives or ballroom minuets "as if he were writing a letter," according to his wife, Constanze. Regarding portions of his opera, Idomeneo, Mozart wrote to his father that "everything has been composed, but not yet written down."

Often, when he was scheduled to play in an ensemble performing one of his new works, he simply skipped writing out his own part. Once, the Emperor Joseph looked over Mozart's shoulder and was astonished to see that his sheet music was completely blank. "Where is your part?" he asked Mozart. The preoccupied composer simply tapped his forehead. "There," he replied.

Music That Is Great by any Standard

Although he was coddled and inhibited as a child by his manipulative father, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's enormous musical ability allowed him to live his adult life in a manner that was fearless. He considered himself the equal of any man, his confidence rooted in the belief that, as Franz Liszt said of himself, "My talent ennobles me."

At the end of this course, you will come to understand Mozart's full impact on the chamber music genre. He changed forever the nature of the violin and piano sonata. He essentially invented the piano trio, piano quartet, and string quintet as we understand them today. His Haydn Quartets reached a range and intensity of expression that would not be achieved again until Beethoven 20 years later.

Mozart's chamber music, Professor Greenberg asserts, is that rare music that is "great by whatever standards we choose to apply: aesthetic, technical, or intellectual." It has left "a vision that should give us all joy and hope for our species."

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16 lectures
 |  Average 46 minutes each
  • 1
    A Blessing of Inconceivable Richness
    Mozart's chamber music ranks among his finest work, making it some of the greatest music ever written. We will listen to a few selections as a preview of the extraordinary pieces of chamber music we will study. x
  • 2
    "The Hunt"
    Mozart's String Quartet in Bb Major, K. 458, subtitled "The Hunt," exemplifies the Viennese Classical style at its zenith. In this work, we will see how Mozart connected and metamorphosed musical ideas, and appreciate his advanced compositional technique. x
  • 3
    "The Hunt," Part 2
    Our in-depth analysis of Mozart's "Hunt" Quartet will reveal the workings of sonata form, the most important musical structural innovation of the Classical era. This work also provides an opportunity to observe the compositional details that set Mozart's music apart. x
  • 4
    The Flute Quartet in D Major
    In this lecture and the next, we will look at Mozart's life before he settled in Vienna, and examine his Flute Quartet in D Major, K. 285, of 1777. It features a flute solo that the great musicologist Alfred Einstein described as "perhaps the most beautiful accompanied solo ever written for the flute." x
  • 5
    Mozart plunged into the musical life of Vienna as a composer and performer. His first big splash came with the "Auernhammer" Sonatas for Violin and Piano, published in December, 1781. The Sonata K. 380 exemplifies these works, which feature the violin and piano as equal partners in an ongoing musical conversation. x
  • 6
    Haydn and Inspiration
    Mozart was 25 when he met 49-year-old Joseph Haydn. Although very different personalities, they quickly became good friends. Haydn's biographer, Karl Geiringer, claimed that Mozart learned to compose string quartets solely from Haydn. In this lecture, we study the "Haydn" String Quartet in G Major, K. 387. x
  • 7
    Exclusively For His Friends
    Many of Mozart's chamber works were written to be performed by his friends. The Oboe Quartet of 1781 was composed for the great oboist Friedrich Ramm. Mozart's Horn Quintet of 1782 was written for Joseph Leutgeb, a master of the hand-horn. This lecture also examines three of Mozart's demanding Twelve Duos for Horn, written, according to Mozart, "while bowling." x
  • 8
    Duos For Violin and Viola
    Mozart's collaborations with composer Michael Haydn—who is less well known today, but was highly respected in his time—caused huge problems of attribution for posterity. Mozart's two Duets for Violin and Viola, K. 423 and K. 424, are cases in point. He wrote them "as" Michael Haydn, who was too ill to fulfill a commission for them. x
  • 9
    Not Just a Pretty Face
    Mozart's major works were never perceived as "easy listening" during his life. His dark and dissonant String Quartet in D Minor, K. 421, completed in 1783, represents the kind of music that challenged Mozart's audiences. His third "Haydn" Quartet in E flat Major, K. 428, is a striking contrast. It contains the most explicitly Haydnesque music of all the "Haydn" quartets. x
  • 10
    Blowin’ in the Winds
    Mozart's Quintet in E flat Major for Piano, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon, K. 452, 1784, was, he believed, the best work he had composed to that point. Two years later, inspired by the great clarinetist Anton Stadler, he composed the Trio in E flat Major for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, K. 498. Mozart's compositions for clarinet remain the core repertoire for that instrument. x
  • 11
    The Piano Trios
    Mozart virtually invented the piano trio as we understand it today, and composed six of them. This lecture examines the Divertimento in Bb Major, K. 254; the Piano Trio in B flat Major, K. 502, 1786; and the Piano Trio in E Major, K. 542, 1788. At this time, Mozart's finances and health were in disarray, yet still he composed beautiful, technically perfect music at breakneck speed. x
  • 12
    The Piano Quartets
    By the mid to late 1780s, Mozart no longer tried to appeal to a mass audience. This refusal to "dumb down" his music is most apparent in his two piano quartets, written between 1785 and 1786. They are large-scale works in terms of their length and grandeur of conception. x
  • 13
    String Quartet in A Major, K. 464
    In this lecture, we examine the fifth of Mozart's "Haydn" Quartets, the String Quartet in A Major, K. 464. Musicologist Alan Kriegsman described this work as "the most stunning example of musical craftsmanship among the six 'Haydn' Quartets." x
  • 14
    The String Quintets
    By the 1780s, Mozart's artistic vision had gone far beyond that of his contemporaries. His string quintets did not sell well, although posterity has benefited from his desire to challenge this difficult medium. In this lecture, we examine four string quintets—all are transcendental masterworks. x
  • 15
    Dissonance—Musical and Financial
    Mozart completed his String Quartet in C Major, K. 465, the so-called "Dissonant" Quartet, in 1785. This sixth and last of Mozart "Haydn" Quartets exhibits an expressive depth and a dark side that exceeded what was then considered appropriate and tasteful. By the late 1780s, Mozart's "difficult" music so alienated his Viennese patrons that his financial situation turned disastrous. x
  • 16
    Basset Horns and Harmonicas
    Mozart wrote his Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, of 1790, and his Clarinet Concerto, K. 622, of 1791, for the basset clarinet (or basset horn), invented by Anton Stadler, one of the finest clarinetists of his day. Mozart's last chamber composition was his Adagio in C Minor and Rondo in C Major for Flute, Oboe, Viola, 'Cello, and Glass Harmonica, K. 617. 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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Chamber Music of Mozart is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 55.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I think this is one of your better courses. Entertaining with a broad range (technical level) of musical information. Downloading the files, so I can use them on a trip without an internet connection is also a plus. Thanks!
Date published: 2018-06-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I would have preferred just listening to the music.
Date published: 2017-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A search for the hidden gems As a young pianist, my first introduction to Mozart came by way of his sonatas and other keyboard pieces. Then, as an accompanist, I started to learn his operas as I worked with singers in the studio and the stage. In music school, I became acquainted with his orchestral works. Somehow or other, his chamber music “slid through the cracks” in my education. Even though I eventually listened to all of it casually, I never thought deeply about its content. Professor Greenberg to the rescue! He has selected representative works from all corners of Mozart’s chamber music catalog, and presents them in his usual clever, passionate style. One of his skills is being able to present the nuts and bolts of musical form and structure in a way that keeps your attention, and at the same time adding insight into Mozart’s life and times. So you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for Mozart’s trios, quartets, and other chamber pieces, but also with much more knowledge about music in the late 18th century and Wolfie’s career. There is not another TGC prof with a personality like Greenberg’s. He has great fun while he teaches, and you’ll have fun while you learn about these gems of chamber music.
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Superb Teacher of Music I'm posting the same review for the many courses offered by Robert Greenberg I have taken. He is superb at explaining music, how it works and why it feels the way it does when you hear it. His courses greatly enhance my appreciation of the music, not just soon after taking his course but over the years thereafter.
Date published: 2017-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great background perspectives I listened to the audio version. It's eloquent, erudite and funny. Moreover, it enhanced my appreciation for the true greatness of the world's greatest composer. Do yourself a favor and enjoy and learn from a great lecturer. He knows his stuff.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great course from Professor Greenberg With a fine mix of vignettes from Mozart's life, instruction on what to listen for, and samples of Mozart's chamber music, Professor Greenberg delights us once again.
Date published: 2017-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful course I have listened to "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music" and the "Chamber Music of Mozart." I'm now doing the Chamber Music of Beethoven. The Mozart course was wonderful. When I first started listening to Prof Greenberg, I found his style off-putting and smug. After a while, though, I've come to love his wit. I've been through the course, but I want to do it again with the scores in hand. The one suggestion I have is that I wish he would give more verbal notes during playback of the music. Sometimes it was hard for me to identify in the music the points he was trying to make. I hope he continues to produces courses, because they are absolutely priceless.
Date published: 2016-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chamber music of Mozart When you say Greenberg, you say FUN. Packed with information in an incredible entertaining package.
Date published: 2016-09-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Learned a lot I have listened to Mozart all my life but this course introduced me to chamber music I haven't heard before and helped me hear "new" things in the music I already know. I find details of composers' life and times fascinating. These courses take me into different centuries and cities even though I usually only purchase the audio. Prof. Greenberg's knowledge and enthusiasm are amazing. I only wish he had a more refined, less colloquial way of lecturing and would take the time to learn to pronounce German names.
Date published: 2016-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Double Play: Hayden to Mozart to Greenberg audio download version Dr. Greenberg's lectures are full of baseball analogies, so yet another should not be amiss. This series is based around Mozart's "Haydn" quartets, with an in-depth analysis of the so-called "Hunt" quartet, taking two full lectures. Using this much time to examine the fourth quartet dedicated to Haydn allows professor Greenberg to spend rather less time in detailed analysis on the rest of the pieces chosen to illustrate Mozart's music. Interspaced with examining the "Haydn" quartets, Dr. Greenberg discusses Mozart's Flute Quartet, some violin and piano sonatas, the Oboe Quartet,the Horn Quintet and (new to me) some horn duos. He also spends one lecture on (again pieces I had not heard) the Violin and Viola Duos he had written to help Michael Haydn out of a jam. In this lecture as with the others Dr. Greenberg gives us plenty of insight into Mozart's private life and times, often in the usual, sometimes in his characteristic, over-the-top style, which many find tedious and childish, but that I find refreshing and delightful. We are treated to the Wind Quintet and the Clarinet Trio, some piano trios and quartets, and importantly a couple of the String Quintets, masterworks explained clearly, leading to the so-called "Dissonance Quartet", the last of the Haydn Quartets. For me, this was by far the most difficult lecture, not because Greenberg was unclear or unable to help me understand the music, but rather because it is (for me) a difficult work to grasp. A lecture to which I will return. And, perhaps as some relief from these difficulties, this lecture is followed by the final one in the series--the Clarinet Quintet, a piece that could be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. A terrific way to end the series. While I am no musician, I love music, often without understanding the depth of what is within even my untutored grasp. With Professor Greenberg as a tutor, I am amazed at how much more I know and appreciate now than I did before. Bravo Professor Greenberg! Very highly recommended
Date published: 2016-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg on Mozart Enthusiasm and intelligence squared! So wonderful i often listen twice to each session. Thank you for this series!
Date published: 2016-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In-depth course (Audio CD). Let me start by saying that I continue to find Professor Greenberg's lectures engaging, and that my previous enjoyment of Mozart has been hit-and-miss. Although Dr. Greenberg delves into each piece in a series of snippets, which was disconcerting, I did enjoy hearing and learning about these pieces to which he gives his attention, including the music for the glass harmonica. By "snippets," I mean that Professor G. discusses and (mostly) plays bits of recordings of these chamber works' separate themes and variations as presented within each of the internal structures of the work, e.g. within the exposition section, the modulating bridge, cadence material, the development section, ... Dr. Greenberg discusses the music in depth. Here is an example pulled at random from the Guidebook: "Between the Ab-G in the viola, heard against the A natural in the first violin, we have a cross-relation (Ab followed by A natural) and another dissonance (G in the viola against A natural in the first violin)." I was able to grasp just enough of the technicalities about which Professor Greenberg so effortlessly speaks to conclude for my own satisfaction that Mozart WAS a musical genius, and that his unique vision WAS still developing when he died (at age 36).
Date published: 2015-08-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too technical for me I love Mozart music and am interested in his life but found it annoying when the music was cut short for technical analysis .. Discussion of "modulating bridges" and "recapitulations" does not add to my enjoyment and since I don't play an instrument, much of it is over my head. Course is probably best for those with an interest in technical analysis.
Date published: 2015-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chamber Music of Mozart hits all the right notes Professor Robert Greenberg's "The Chamber Music of Mozart" is an informative and accessible introduction to those who may not know very much about this form which Mozart brought to new heights of beauty and complexity. It is also useful to those who have studied classical music at some time in the past and wish to revisit what they have learned, at home and at their own pace. Professor Greenberg's lecture style is a successful blend of the witty and the serious. He is never dull, and moves effortlessly from one topic to another, while giving his audience ample time to process what they have heard. Like Mozart he enjoys a joke. As far as visuals are concerned, images of Mozart that were contemporary to his time, would be preferable to nineteenth-century romanticism. My one criticism is that I feel his narrative consistently underrates and even belittles Leopold Mozart, who deserves a more balanced view. Without Leopold, Wolfgang would have been a different man, but not necessarily a better one.
Date published: 2015-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In-depth course, very good I particularly like Profesor Greeneberg's courses that are in-depth, detailed analyses of music of particular kind by a particular composer (not that other courses are bad, they all deserve listening to). One can learn a lot from this course about the music of Mozart, and something about Mozart himself. Courses on music by Beethoven are even better, in my opinion, but this is also grat. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For a specific crowd DVD reviews. I came to appreciate classical music well after my teens. With no musical background whatsoever, I believe my tastes evolved through a fairly common path. First came "easy listening" tunes like Pachelbel's Canon. Loud, brassy symphonies, concertos and operas with catchy melodies soon followed. Excessive familiarity eventually led me to explore less-obvious choices, including early music and chamber pieces. Dr. Greenberg's CHAMBER MUSIC OF MOZART and STRING QUARTETS OF BEETHOVEN — the order is important — are great introductions to the string quartet as it evolved from Haydn through Mozart to Beethoven, who fundamentally redefined the genre's potential. BUT, BUT these two course do assume a basic understanding, or at least a high tolerance for, music theory at a level achievable if you first go through Greenberg's UNDERSTANDING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MUSIC. Without this background information, these courses will sound like BLAH, BLAH, BLAH → MUSIC SNIPPET → BLAH, BLAH, BLAH → ANOTHER SNIPPET → BLAH, BLAH ..... Here is a BLAH, BLAH example, 17 minutes into Lesson 9 of BEETHOVEN: "The development section begins with the sequence of 2-chord units, each followed by a measure of silence, as the harmony moves forward from E-flat major to E-flat minor to B-major finally arriving in B-minor for a lengthy sequential modulatory passage based on theme 1." You get the point. Greenberg is a wonderful, entertaining lecturer, probably TTC's best. But music presents unique challenges. Whereas paintings can be shown at a glance, with plenty of speculation about what is portrayed or the artist's biography, music is invisible and demands time. Music moves us more viscerally, and yet requires a fairly abstract vocabulary to explain and compare. _______________ To sum up..... If you expect long stretches of beautiful music briefly interrupted by vague babblings about what Mozart or Beethoven must have felt, these courses will seriously disappoint. Just buy the music CDs and enjoy yourself. If the Greenberg quotation mentioned above sounds like technical jargon that adds nothing to your aesthetic appreciation for chamber music, then stay away. These course are designed either for musically literate people, or for TTC clients with an engineer's propensity to "look under the hood" and find out how these mechanisms work. Greenberg's courses also offer you a vocabulary to compare and contrast musical performances with like-minded enthusiasts. Highly recommended if you fit that description.
Date published: 2014-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Music Teaching Is Fantastic When Professor Greenberg gets deeply into teaching music, he teaches as well as any of the very best of the TGC stable of professors. I believe his courses on Concert Masterworks and Beethoven's Symphonies were among my absolute favorites of the almost 100 TGC courses I've experienced. The problem with this course, as is the case with some of his other offerings, is, at least to my taste, there isn't enough actual teaching to the music. It started extremely well. The instruction on The Hunt was exemplary. But, just as I settled in for what I expected to be a "nice ride," we went "off the road." I get the need for context and needed biographical detail. But did we really need virtually an entire lecture on poor Mozart's problems with his father? Then half the next lecture on problems with the archbishop, etc., crowded out the teaching of the Sonata for Violin and Piano. What's so frustrating about this habit of Greenberg's is that he frequently moans about not having the time to go into needed depth in much of the music. I wanted to reach into my CD player, grab the good professor by the lapel and say, "Sir, if you only had showed more discipline in your use of time, you could have had the time you wanted!" I know Greenberg is very popular, and I concede I may be in the minority. The professor's diversions, often into the more sensational aspects of composers' lives or times, must be attractive to much of the audience. I understand that and accept that. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. For me, it's a shame because it takes a lot away from what I see as Greenberg's greatest strength. The place where this apparent desire or need to enrich or embellish hurt his teaching the most in this course was in his treatment of the "Dissonant" Quartet. This music is extraordinary, and Greenberg's teaching of it was fine. But instead of just teaching the music, Greenberg tried to tie Mozart's financial problems (dissonance) to the dissonance in the music. This is tempting, but there's absolutely no basis in fact, history, or composition to make this link. Mozart's problems arose well after the completion of this music. I've been pretty critical here, so I want to end on an entirely positive note. I have found Greenberg's teaching to be extraordinary. I love music, and his courses have added immeasurably to my understanding and appreciation of music. So, I am exceedingly grateful to him. I just wish he'd find a way to stay "Greenberg," humor and all, yet be a bit more disciplined. He could certainly remain popular, while serving the music more effectively.
Date published: 2014-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent Music and Insightful Commentary The chamber music of Mozart is incredibly beautiful. I knew that Mozart wrote wondrous symphonies and concertos but somehow had, to this point, missed out on his chamber works. I clearly did not appreciate the genius of the six Haydn string quartets. In addition, I don't believe that I had ever even heard of the Oboe Quartet of 1781, The Horn Quintet of 1782, the Duos for Horn of 1786, the Adagio in C minor and Rondo in C major for Flute, Oboe, Viola, ‘Cello, and Glass Harmonica, and many other pieces covered here! This course provides the basis for a much better understanding of Mozart as a person and his composition of music for small instrumental ensembles (including the basset horn and the glass harmonica). Professor Greenberg is easy to listen to and full of insights. He often uses jokes to keep the tone light and entertaining. He is very successful using this strategy. In this course though, his jokes, like Mozart himself at times, can be a bit on the less sensitive side. You might want to avoid this course if this is likely to offend you. Some portions of the material, particularly aspects of musical composition, have been covered in some of the Professor’s other Teaching Company courses. I had no trouble with that. I often need the repetition to help cement concepts. It is best to have the music available to listen to in its entirety as only portions are played during the course lectures. The lecture notes in the course guidebook are thorough and complete. This is another of many excellent Teaching Company courses from Professor Greenberg!
Date published: 2014-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mozart in depth I had previously listened to Mozart in the Great Masters series. I had held off on purchasing this course because a) I thought a lot of biographical material would be repetitive and b) I find chamber music somewhat tedious in comparison to symphonic music. I couldn't have been more mistaken! The biographical material presented in this course (and there is a great deal of it) is additive to the Great Masters course. I have a new found appreciation of the complexity and beauty of chamber music, especially by Mozart. Some of the music selections sound as if they were written in the 20th century. I am not a music student, and some of the music theory presented was a little over my head, but it is an integral and important part of the lecture series, and I did learn more about the terms and concepts. The music selections were beautiful, relevant and inspiring (I was inspired to purchase my first chamber music selections after listening to the lectures!). The listener of this course should expect a mixture and balance of Mozart's biography, his music, and the theory behind the music. Highly recommended, especially if listened in conjunction with the Great Masters lectures!
Date published: 2013-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Opened my ears to this music I enjoyed Mozart's chamber music but did not really understand it. This course helped me understand it much better. Prof. Greenberg's presentation is sometimes over the top, but he gets his points across. This course seemed to have less examples played by Prof. Greenberg at the piano, and I missed them. It is easier to know what to listen for when he plunks it out for you before you hear the full chamber group play the piece. I was grateful that he named the Alexander Quartet, because in the other Great Courses on music that I have heard, the artist is never named, which is frustrating. I have spent some time selecting full recordings of the pieces that he excerpts for the course. I plan to listen to this course more than once. Having the recordings now, I am sure that it will be better the second and third time. It was certainly money well spent for this course. Personally, I prefer Bach and the course Bach and the High Baroque. I have listened to it three times and certainly will listen again. If you don't have that one yet, I would start there, or with the big course on What to Listen for in Music. Enjoy!
Date published: 2013-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Place to Start I recommend this course for anyone trying Prof. Greenberg's work for the first time. The course combines listening to music, biography and music theory in perfect balance. And Greenberg's presentation keeps it entertaining!
Date published: 2013-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from vintage Greenberg (that is, a real joy) This is the 6th course from Prof Greenberg that I've taken and it's great. Greenberg is a superb lecturer, who speaks with real style and wit; like his other courses, there are some laugh out loud funny remarks in this one. But the real joy of this course is in my new insights into the large body of Mozart's chamber music. Greenberg covers excellent examples of each major type, and along the way provides interesting insights into Mozart's life. I don't know how to play any musical instrument and know essentially nothing about music theory. You don't need any of that to really enjoy this course. But if you do understand music theory, I think this course will be even more valuable since Greenberg's very interesting analyses of musical passages will stay with you.
Date published: 2012-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting Experience Dr. Greenberg's presentation is wonderfully entertaining and I was prompted to download complete versions of Mozart's chamber works as a result of listening to this course. I appreciated the course material on Mozart's life, because without knowing the details of it, full appreciation of the music would not be possible. Just enough of the music was presented in the class to tantalize and prompt me to listen to the complete pieces. I love Dr. Greenberg's presentations and found myself laughing at his great humor in my car at stop lights. People in adjacent lanes were probably wondering what I was laughing at. The lectures were presented in a masterful way and the ending of the course (which I shall not reveal here) is a real gem!
Date published: 2012-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fountain of riches Another Greenberg success. As a pianist, I think of this course every time I play Mozart's chamber works, especially the G minor piano quartet. He fills in a multitude of details that help make the music come alive.
Date published: 2011-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential if you love Mozart This is a good place to start for chamber music or Mozart lovers. Prof Greenberg includes much background information on Mozart, which is only redundant if you have been through his Mozart course. He uses the string quartets dedicated to Haydn as the backbone of the course, and devotes a full lecture to each of them. My only wish is that he would leave out the background information unless directly relevant, and play more of the works. He highlights many lesser known chamber works, such as violin/viola duos, piano trios, piano quartets, string quintets, and wind instrument ensembles. Many of these genres were established by Mozart and remain the high water mark to this day, such as the piano trios, piano quartets, and string quintets. I particularly like the string quintets, and wish they had been given a full lecture each. They were so good that they discouraged Beethoven from trying to compose more of them. Greenberg does them justice by exhorting us to rush out and obtain recordings of them, because they enhance our lives and make us happier in many ways.
Date published: 2011-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This guy is fantastic This review is more a review of the presenter than the topic. First, I'm not a classical music guy (I'm a finance/engineer guy), and I bought this course on a lark. The course material is over my head--you need to have some grounding in music study to really appreciate this course. On the other hand, the presenter is fantastic, so much so that I'm listening to him anyway b/c I actually WANT to understand what he's saying rather than just give up. Plus, the course isn't just talk--he plays the pieces and explains them, which is tremendously helpful. I plan to buy more from this presenter. I notice that almost every course he teaches is rated 5 stars, and I fully understand why. I think I'll buy a beginner course, and then revisit this course. Kudos to TTC for finding and using this professor!
Date published: 2011-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First Rate!! I will be reviewing this course from two aspects: I. Based on the audio version II. From a music major/musicians' point-of-view. First of all, this was my first TTC into the "Greenberg Experience" and I could not be more pleased. As I mentioned in my review of his course on music fundamentals, for quite some time I had never purchased a Greenberg course, since I was a music major and figured that I could not possibly benefit from his teaching. Boy, was I wrong!! The attitude and approach of the professor are amazing. He freely shares of his knowledge to all who would listen. I just love the music score tool that is in the guidebook. This was designed by Dr. Greenberg to assit non-musicians to know 'where they are within a musical composition, at any point in time." Believe me, regardless of whether you can or cannot read musical notation, there is something here in this approach that will benefit everyone. When I was attending music courses in college, our music history professor, for some strange reason, skipped over the composers that commonly comprise the 'Classical-Era" of serious music. (Including Mozart!!!) This college prof felt that future music educators needed to concentrate on middle 20th century music. Ever since then, I have always felt the great void in my musical knowledge from that period. Thanks to Dr. Greenberg and this course, I have been greatly enriched. I found the material to be very stimulating. The mixture of Mozart's life with his music are just right. Also, the time in each lecture is pretty well balanced between the music itself, and biographical information and the professor's lecture time. And, much of his time is spent in explaining or analyzing what is happening from a musical point of view. Although I cannot speak from a non-musician point of view, I can tell you that his explanations of musical concepts are about as simple as you will ever find. As others have commented here, this course is way too short!!! I might add that many of the sections/lessons could easily be expanded into individual courses themselves( i.e. the String Quartets; Wind Concerti./Ensemble; etc.) This is great course that is "easy-on-the-brain" One can easily unwind to these lectures, as well as learn and be educationly stimulated at the same time. This course is just another example of why Dr. Greenberg is one of the VERY top TTC professors(both from a quantity and quality standpoint) and I certainly look forward to diving in to his other courses!
Date published: 2011-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Too short! This course is a fascinating mixture of biographical information and detailed musical analysis. It is very well organized and manages to be seamlessly both chronological and thematic. Professor Greenberg is his usual enthusiastic, generous self sometimes going a bit overboard with colloquialisms. Though he has a definite penchant for more recent music, he certainly demonstrates a deep knowledge of Mozart’s chamber music and point out elements that certainly would not naturally come to the mind of a run of the mill music lover. If you listen to this course on an IPod playlist, you may find it worthwhile to insert after each lecture the musical works just discussed. These have to come from another source since as usual Teach12 only provides excerpts. Th only shortcoming with this course is that it includes only 16 lectures. It is definitely recommended to all curious of the evolution of music and of course of the 18th century in particular.
Date published: 2011-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a joy! This course is just plain wonderful. The music selections are beautiful, and the comments are informative and inspiring.
Date published: 2011-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Music Another fabulous, 5-star lecture series by Professor Greenberg! I didn't agree at first with every one of his music selections, but hey, we're all here to learn, right? Oddly enough, I found this course to be the least engaging to date of all Professor Greenberg's lecture courses. But on reflection that was because I purchased it on DVD, and I found the visuals to distract from concentrating on the music. If you are curious about Mozart, or about chamber music, or about both...or if you just want to hear Professor Greenberg tell of his deep, personal love for Mozart, don't hesitate to pick up this beautiful course. I recommend purchasing the audio CDs.
Date published: 2009-04-29
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