Concert Masterworks

Course No. 710
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 710
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Course Overview

Have you ever wondered what goes through a composer's mind during those magical weeks and months when a musical composition—something meant to become a listening experience—is being notated on paper? Have you tried to imagine the creative process that boils inside geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorák, Strauss, Brahms, Mendelssohn, or Liszt? Or within any composer?

  • Is it pure inspiration?
  • Does a composer hear the music first, before even picking up a pen?
  • Or does the music, in fact, actually begin on that blank sheet of staff paper?

Most important, can lay listeners like us, untrained in the technicalities of music, be taught to open our ears to a composer's creative intentions?

Learn the Art of Listening to Great Music

Can we learn the art of listening, so that great music becomes an even more insightful and pleasurable experience for us?

Dr. Robert Greenberg believes the answer to that last question is "yes."

And now this winner of three Nicola De Lorenzo Prizes in composition, whose music courses in several classical genres are among our most popular, has set out to prove his point once again.

He has created a course designed to give you a new level of sophistication as a music listener—using as his teaching tools some of the most memorable works in all of music.

Gain a New Level of Listening Sophistication

The skills you learn in this course will attune you to intricacies of musical purpose, structure, and narrative content that you will be able to perceive in any piece of music.

Though this is a demanding course, with a deeper look into musical structure than untrained listeners are likely to have experienced, it is not an intimidating one.

Professor Greenberg vividly positions each composition and its composer in the social and musical fabric of its time, so you can understand the music in its proper societal and artistic context.

His descriptions are vivid, evoking dramatic images of:

  • The precocities of young Mozart
  • Beethoven's progress toward his "Heroic" style, as his inner tendencies exaggerated by the turbulent times he lived in
  • The profound sense of caution ingrained in Brahms by his solid middle-class background, and how this influenced his choices of what to publish.

Throughout these lectures, Professor Greenberg includes fascinating details of the musical world in which each composer worked.

Learn Beethoven's Advantage over His Predecessors

You learn, for example:

  • How the piano developed, and how design advances gave Beethoven a profound advantage over his harpsichord-trained predecessors
  • how the 19th-century cult of the individual artist as hero led to the rise of virtuoso superstars such as the legendary Italian violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, who revolutionized the art of violin playing and inspired Liszt to become a piano virtuoso second to none
  • how the folk elements used by nationalist composers became part of the shared, common language of concert music, so Dvorák could feel perfectly comfortable using "American" elements in his Symphony no. 9, the New World Symphony, examined in this course.

The core of the course is its superb structural examination of eight of the most brilliant pieces of music ever written, with Professor Greenberg grouping the composers and their compositions into four pairs, each designed to clarify different aspects of music for you.

Part I: The Classical Piano Concerto features:

  • Mozart—Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, K. 503 (1786)
  • Beethoven—Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, the Emperor Concerto (1809).

The emphasis of these lectures is on the musical substance of the concerti themselves—their formal structure, thematic relationships, expressive content, and the role of the piano soloist.

Part II: Nationalism and Expressionism in the Late 19th Century features:

  • Antonín Dvorák—Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony(1893)
  • Richard Strauss—Death and Transfiguration (1889).

Here Professor Greenberg focuses on Dvorák's structural use of conflicting keys to reflect conflicting themes, and on Strauss's tone poem as an example of a "through-composed piece," in which the motives and themes grow out of material that has preceded them.

Part III: Great 19th-Century Violin Concerti features:

  • Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61 (1806)
  • Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77 (1878).

In comparing these two works—the "backbone of the 19th-century violin concerto repertoire"—Professor Greenberg shows how the work of Beethoven, trained in the structures and techniques of 18th-century Classicism, and Brahms, the 19th-century Romantic, so clearly reflect characteristics of the other.

Part IV: Early Romantic-Era Program Music features:

  • Felix Mendelssohn—Incidental Music, op. 61 (1842) and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21 (1826)
  • Franz Liszt—Totentanz (1849).

Here, Professor Greenberg compares Mendelssohn's brilliant and endearing interpretation of Shakespeare's comedy with Liszt's virtuosic example of the Romantic era's fascination with the Gothic and the macabre in his work based on the 14th-century Black Death.

Experience Deep Structural UnderstandingStudying musical composition in this way is an opportunity to penetrate more deeply into the structure of a piece than you've ever done before.

Professor Greenberg likens the experience to understanding great works of architecture. We can see their surfaces and even be moved by their beauty, but unless we are taught to see and comprehend them in our minds, our eyes will be blind to their richest glories:

  • Their construction
  • Their ingenious blending of purpose and technique
  • Their philosophical force.
Learn to perceive most of the aesthetic, structural, expressive, and narrative information a composer builds into a piece of music, dramatically changing your listening experience.

The result? The music you listen to becomes more vivid, life enhancing, exciting, visceral, and altogether compelling.

See New Ways to Plumb Music's Depths

These lectures give you the tools of vocabulary and the structural fundamentals most of us, no matter how much we love music, have never acquired—even if you've taken "music appreciation" or learned to play an instrument at a basic level.

Even more important, you gain a knowledge of the structural conventions original audiences took for granted, allowing you to share the musical experiences those audiences had when they were surprised or challenged by a composer's departure from those conventions.

To ensure you get the most from the lectures, the explorations of each of the masterpieces analyzed are made up of three components:

  • Background: the life, times, personality, and musical stylistic assumptions of the composer under study
  • An extensive examination of the work under study, analyzing its form, themes, thematic relationships, expressive content, and more
  • The WordScore Guide—a unique visual device that allows you to follow the musical narrative as it unfolds before you, even if you can't read a note of music.

With the tools provided by this course, you can understand a composer's surrender to the status quo ... or his defiance of it. And you'll be able to experience, as those first audiences did, the music's full intellectual and expressive impact.

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32 lectures
 |  Average 46 minutes each
  • 1
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, I
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 2
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, II
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 3
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, III
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 4
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, IV
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 5
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, I
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 6
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, II
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 7
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, III
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 8
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, IV
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 9
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, I
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 10
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, II
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 11
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, III
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 12
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, IV
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 13
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, I
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 14
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, II
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 15
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, III
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 16
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, IV
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 17
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, I
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 18
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, II
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 19
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, III
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 20
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, IV
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 21
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, I
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 22
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, II
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 23
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, III
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 24
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, IV
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 25
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, I
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 26
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, II
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 27
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, III
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 28
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, IV
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 29
    Liszt—Totentanz, I
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 30
    Liszt—Totentanz, II
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 31
    Liszt—Totentanz, III
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 32
    Liszt—Totentanz, IV
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x

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  • Download 32 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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Instant Audio Includes:
  • Download 32 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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DVD Includes:
  • 32 lectures on 8 DVDs
  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

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Course Guidebook Details:
  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Glossary
  • Biographical notes

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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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Reviews

Concert Masterworks is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 36.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Greenberg Does it Better, Later--Still Very Fine Audio download version As has been pointed out by other reviewers, this course is really a compilation of four other, earlier courses, where professor Greenberg takes two similar musical works and compares and contrasts them, going into some depth as to the music, the composer and the times that influenced both. This format allows Dr. Greenberg to examine eight musical works and seven composers (Beethoven gets two works) in some considerable depth. And herein lies my only problem. Other courses by professor Greenberg often cover much of the same information. While realizing that each course needs to be able to be listened to in a "stand-alone" fashion, he covers the idea that music is a mirror of the times with a far better explanation in the course "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music". And he covers the life and times of each composer in a more complete and enjoyable fashion in his "Great Masters" series. On the other, enjoyable hand, Dr. Greenberg does not cover works that I have heard him cover in any depth before, so listening to him explain, for example, "Totentanz" in some considerable detail was very instructive and rewarding. To that end, Dr. Greenberg includes in the course guidebook, a "Word Score" for each piece. Unlike at least one other reviewer, I found the word scores to be very helpful in being able to follow the musical concepts put forth by professor Greenberg. Although I can read music, the written explanations that accompanied the few bars of notated music added very much to my understanding of the music. Recommended for the detailed examination of the eight musical works, but much of the other material is presented in a more detailed manner in Dr. Greenberg's other courses.
Date published: 2016-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another course, another joy from Prof. Greenberg I've enjoyed all of Prof. Greenberg's courses very much, and this one is no exception. He covers in detail works that are some of my all-time favorites and that I know very well (such as Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto and Beethoven's Violin Concerto). I learned a lot about these compositions. And he covers works that I had heard once or twice but really did not ever appreciate or understand - and now I do. As always, Greenberg is a superb lecturer, passionate, engaging and entertaining. He focuses here on the music, without going into excessive detail on fine points of music theory, so the course is totally accessible to someone like me who loves classical music but can't read music or play an instrument. Greenberg also weaves in biographical highlights of the composers, but the focus is on the selected pieces.
Date published: 2015-10-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 8 Mini Courses I enjoy Greenberg's courses. He is wonderfully entertaining and a great teacher. This course almost seems like eight 4-lecture courses that have been grouped together into one 32-lecture course. There was too much repetition of the beginning of Beethoven's 5th. So, that downgraded the course a bit. I understand that picking the 8 works to present is very subjective and completely up to Greenberg. However, I just didn't see how the last piece, Totentanz, fit with the other seven. Were the other seven the pinnacle of each composer's repertoire? Perhaps not. But, to an amateur listener like me, they were all great pieces. Totentanz, on the other hand, seemed pretty lame. To me, it just didn't measure up. So, that downgraded the course as well. I do appreciate the time he takes in each lecture to present details on the life and times of the composers. This not only satisfies my curiosity about them, but it helps put the piece of music in its place in history. I've got the video version of this course and, even though I can read music, I appreciated his following along on the word score on the black board. It makes it much easier for me to follow and, more importantly, understand the points he is making. While it is true that the quality of music from the tape recorder wasn't great, I watched this course to learn about the music and not for a concert-quality experience from my television. Honestly, the sound quality didn't bother me at all. The quality was more than sufficient to understand the points Greenberg was trying to make. After all, it is for the points Greenberg makes that one watches this course.
Date published: 2015-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Word Scores First of all I am an amateur musician, I play the notes I see on the page, that's about it. I have listened to many of Prof Greenberg's courses, including the composer series, piano works, and How to listen and understand classical music, the best Great Course out there. All I can say is...I love word scores! I love following these in the course book, and it helps me understand the music. I have always loved Dvorak Symphony 9, and am aware of hearing recurring themes, but this course made sense of it all. Please include more word scores in your future lectures for geeks like me....thankfully you have lost the notepad....as for the moustache...with/without....I will leave that up to the Maestro. Thank you Professor Greenberg!
Date published: 2014-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best course so far While I have enjoyed almost all the courses, this course on Mozart and Beethoven concerti have been outstanding. I don't think any course has taught me so much. I learnt both music theory, the sonata allegro form, what makes good musical composition, the concerto form, opera, as well as biographical material concerning Mozart and Beethoven. It was fun to hear, it was just a great course. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2014-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Musical Ellaboration This review will pertain to the audio version. First of all, let me say that I am a devoted Greenberg fan. As a college music major, I can say, in all honesty, that, compared to what I have learned from Professor Greenberg, it makes me question what I really learned in my college music courses. This is about my sixth Greenberg course. If I had taken this course earlier, perhaps I wouldn't hold other courses to very high standards. It was difficult for me to review this course, mainly because it isn't up to the same standards as more recent Greenberg courses. However, I do recognize, that this is to be expected. This course was produced in 1995, and both The Teaching Company, and Dr. Greenberg himself, have matured in so many ways. Here are my major observations about this course: 1# At times, I found the tone quality very distracting. There is a hissing, open, airy sound that is present throughout most of the presentations. Sometimes, when the music is soft, the hissing sound is louder than the music. Even when one tries to tune this out, it still is very annoying. 2) Unlike most of the TTC courses, these lectures can be skipped around, within individual works. There are about two major ways in which the course is set up. One way, is to think of it consisting of 8 different lectures, each of which lasts for 3 hours. The second way is to think of it as being in four different sections: Each section consists of 8 different lectures, of which each lecture is 45 minutes long. Within that context, half of these works are primarily orchestral works, the remaining half are works written for a soloist with orchestra #Concerti) 3) There is much to be learned from this course. Even as a music major, I was able to extract much from these lectures. Although some reviewers were confused as to why Dr. Greenberg would spend so much time on using Beethoven's 5th in order to introduce the Beethoven Violin Concerto, at the conclusion of the 4th lecture on this concerto, I was able to make the connection between these works. I must admit, that, for awhile, I was also asking myself, as to why so much time was devoted to the Beethoven 5th. As the third lecture rolled around, and I could see where the professor was going with this, I looked at this a bit of masterful teaching. 4) There are a few times, when, right in the middle of a lecture, the sound phases out, then re-phrases in again. This might be distracting for some. 5) Although I have not seen the video version, there are several times that Professor Greenberg references items that he has outlined on the board. However, it seems that most of these visuals are well represented in the Word Score guides. As I have mentioned in other reviews, I am not a big fan of these Word Scores, I can appreciate the fact, that they are designed for non-music readers. In conclusion, there is much to be gained from purchasing, and completing this course. However, I caution that one should not expect this course to be on the same high quality level, as more recent courses are. This is due to the early release date of this course. Hopefully, if this course continues in the catalog, it will be considered for a major revision.
Date published: 2014-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from More than I wanted to know. I have listened to many of Professor Greenberg's lectures for The Teaching Company and bought this one just because I enjoy him so much. However, this one I had to force myself to stay with. This course was much too detailed for me but I am sure many people were happy for the depth of the presentations. I found I truly enjoyed the detail of pieces I was very familiar with. Maybe if I knew the other pieces better I would appreciate the dissection more. Professor Greenberg's use of what he calls "WordScore Guides" is a magnificent tool to understand the structure of the piece he is presenting. It really helped in the understanding of the parts of a piece. I.e. exposition, development and recapitulation. The course is structured with 8 sections of 4 lectures each. I frequently felt that this could have been 8 mini-courses, like his Great Masters series. As in his other courses, his love of the topic, sense of humor and talent shine throughout. When he is describing the 'war' between the orchestra and the piano you can really hear it.
Date published: 2014-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Vintage Greenberg! This series of lectures by Professor Robert Greenberg dates back quite a few years: 1995 is referred to as ‘recent’, ‘Teach12’ is called ‘Teachco’ and there is talk of cassettes and tapes! Still, though he is perhaps comparatively a bit low-key in style, all used to Professor Greenberg will recognize here his usual energy and pertinence. However, it must be pointed out, that contrary to later productions works are not discussed in chronological order but rather thematically. This provides the advantage of making each lecture independent but generates non negligible repetitions for those who listen to all. The musical excerpts are of particularly poor quality and it is definitely useful to insert between lectures onto your playlist the musical works discussed obtained from other sources.
Date published: 2014-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not the Best of Professor Greenberg's Courses I could listen to Prof. Greenberg discuss music all day. His presentation style and excellent knowledge of great music makes him a "must-hear" in most of his courses. Unfortunately, "Concert Masterworks" is a let down. It's clear from many of his pop culture references that this is one of Greenberg's earlier courses (c. mid-1990s or thereabouts). Besides these references (and the omnipresent paper shuffling which is absent in his later, better-produced courses), there are two main problems with this set, one which is clearly a manifestation of this being an earlier course. First is Dr. Greenberg's manner of speaking. One of the great things about his speaking style, generally, is his crisp, enthusiastic, humor-filled, and very forceful delivery. However, in this course, Dr. Greenberg frequently adopts a haughtier, snobbish inflection, which is not present in later courses, suggesting that this was feedback acted upon. It becomes intolerable at times here, sounding high society and holier than thou. It drove me crazy, and had me wondering where the real Dr. Greenberg went. The second, and more crucial issue is the material presented. I had high hopes for this course, because I relished the opportunity to discuss great works in extreme detail. However, many of the four-lecture presentations take wild detours, leaving precious little time to fully investigate the work in question. For example, Liszt's "Totentanz" doesn't begin to go under the microscope until the third lecture. The first two lectures discuss Paganini and several Variations pieces that have nothing to do with "Totentanz". Even worse is the Beethoven Violin Concerto. It's worthwhile to discuss thematic development as part of this series, but Dr. Greenberg spends *two* of the four lectures analyzing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to make his points. Those same points could have easily been made with reference to the Violin Concerto itself, so he lost me there. There was at least one other series where Beethoven's Fifth was trotted out at length as a show pony, at the expense of time spent on the actual Masterwork in question. I give the course a modest 3-Star rating, because there is interesting stuff to be found here, and I imagine many listeners will like this just fine. Compared, however, to the more polished presentation style found in Dr. Greenberg's "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music", this course falls way short.
Date published: 2013-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Oh My! I must confess that I wrote the most negative of all the reviews received for Greenberg's course on Beethoven in his "Great Masters" series. I thought that course was thin, mostly pop psych biography, with little, mostly forgettable, analysis of the music. In a move I rarely make, I sent it and an unopened companion set on Brahms back to the company for a refund. My low regard for that course hasn't changed one bit over the years. Yet, here's the punch line: I'm giving this course by Greenberg on Concert Masterworks an exuberant 5 stars, my strongest recommendation, and an admission that it's one of the finest courses I've ever taken from TGC. Go figure. During the time I've so enjoyed this experience, I've worked at trying to figure out the mystery. Based on others' reviews and my own reflections, I've got a hypothesis. It appears that the good professor created some extraordinary work in these early courses (more on that in a moment) and then chose to, or was led to, make some short courses on composers that would be "more accessible" to the masses. I don't want to speak for others, and indeed there obviously are others who buy and like these courses. But, as for me, and at least as to the Beethoven, I believe it was quite simply a failed and unfortunate experiment. This course is everything that course was not. Greenberg goes exceptionally deeply into a limited number of outstanding masterworks. I cannot describe how exciting and fulfilling the teaching is here. Greenberg is extremely knowledgeable, well organized, sharply focused, deeply passionate, and remarkably effective in his treatment of the music in context, his rich exploration of the form and content of each piece, and his powerful advocacy for the beauty and power of the music itself. I could go on and on with superlatives. His careful and frequent comparison of orchestral music with opera, his explanation of how the initial theme often carries on in the music in more ways than the casual listener might recognize, his use of WordScore and the blackboard to show the student precisely how and in what ways the music progresses, his hard work and superb manner in describing in the most eloquent terms both the smallest details and the grandest glory of the music - in all these ways and more, Greenberg does exemplary and really exceptional teaching. The course maintains a very high level throughout, perhaps with a slight dip in the Liszt. But that's a quibble. I am very familiar with most of the music he teaches here, and less so with some. I loved and benefitted from it all. While I will stay away from "The Great Masters," I have rushed to buy several of the older courses and eagerly await their arrival.
Date published: 2013-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent analyses, could do with shortening This course consists of eight 3-hour lectures, 45 minutes at a time, on music from diverse corners of the repertoire. The first lecture in each case is a Life And Times of the Composer, a good introduction, but a bit long. Each of the eight lectures is a standalone unit, there is little cross-comment, and not much building on previous information across the lectures. I sometimes got the feeling that he was stretching it out to fill the time required. Four lectures per piece could have been three. I would agree with a previous reviewer that the audio quality could be improved, and that it appears to have been recorded in the mid-1980s. On the other hand, he does an excellent job of analysis, pitched exactly at the level of musical morons like myself who can't remember a series of notes for more than 15 seconds. He plays the theme on the piano, then the orchestra, then shows how the theme gets twisted and replayed, then a second theme comes in, etc. It was a wonderful revelation to me, that a musical event which can be described and dissected, happens about every 10 seconds in a piece of concert music. It's not just a nice-sounding blur of noise. Which adds significantly to the enjoyment of listening to the piece. I learned, began to understand, what it is that a composer actually does, how he thinks, what the composing process looks like. Greenberg does an excellent job showing this.
Date published: 2011-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deep, Rich, and Enjoyable Robert Greenberg has developed a thoroughly rich and fascinating examination of some of the greatest music ever written. Of the many TC series I've enjoyed, there have been only a few that I listened through back-to-back. This is the first one I went through back-to-back-to-back. There's so much to take in here that repeated listening made the instruction "deeper" and clearer each time. It makes a big difference that I came to it already loving some of the musical works examined. As far as I'm concerned, you can't talk too much about the music of Mozart or Beethoven. But I also enjoyed learning about some of the other works for the first time. Even the one piece I definitely did not like I enjoyed learning about. Greenberg's teaching gave me a better understanding also of how and why concert music developed from the 18th through 19th centuries. There are interesting biographical sketches of the composers. He packs in so much information that the listener also learns about some of the social and political history that formed the background of these composers and their works. If you are new to Robert Greenberg, you'll find him to be passionate, enthusiastic, informative, funny, and sometimes corny. You may not like his style (I do, witnessed by the four series of his I own), but you will not find him boring. If you're interested in learning how the world's greatest music "works" on a deeper level, you will enjoy this series.
Date published: 2011-09-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent coverage of diverse music styles Have come to appreciate Dr. Greenberg's style, as he is an acquired taste for most people. Having gone through his recent courses on Beethoven string quartets and piano sonatas, and biographies of Haydn and Mozart, I was eager to listen to his treatment of Liszt, Strauss, and Dvorak, as well as Beethoven and Brahms. The content deserves 5 stars, because he analyzes each work in 4 CDs over 3 hours. Few people will be familiar with all of the works, so there is much to be learned. He presents things from a composer's perspective, so there is much focus on themes, key signatures, and contrasts. His wordscores are useful if you have the time to read while listening. I have to deduct from the presentation, value, and overall because of the need for updating. It is clearly an early course from over 10 years ago, because he refers to the recordings on tape and to Amadeus as a recent movie. During the music you can hear rustling of papers, which was very distracting. The course should be updated to the audio quality of current courses, or at least reduced in price. It would also be nice if he included the entire piece for all of the subjects, as he did for Liszt's Totentanz. To hear a course in stops and starts can be confusing, and he should include at least the first movement of each piece if not the entirety. For content alone, it is still highly recommended.
Date published: 2011-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Experience I greatly appreciated the understanding I gained from Dr. Greenberg about the structure and style of music. I have always enjoyed classical and baroque music, but did not know how the pieces were structured and what the differences between various styles are. This course provided entertainment as well as a wealth of knowledge about the content and style of the masterworks addressed. Dr. Greenberg is a wonderful guide through this music and he has an engaging presentation style. I watched this course over dinner with my family and it was a delightful experience. We watched lessons from the "Everyday Guide to Wine" course and then we needed a few dinners to finish the bottles of wine used in that course so we watched "Concert Masterworks" on alternating days. The two courses fit together very well because they cover the finest experiences of the senses: great music and the finest wines.
Date published: 2010-10-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from GREAT FOR MUSIC MAJORS Fascinating, but very, very technical. I always love Professor Greenberg's lectures and quotes and jokes--but here he is chained to musical structure. It's a great course for those who want to delve into the elements of music and how a composer builds a great musical composition. For the average person who loves music, it may not be the best choice. I've taken about 15 Greenberg courses and enjoy them all and only wish he could play more music in each one of them. I'm also disappointed that he singles out 10 composers for individual mini-courses and omits Wagner. Where is Wagner????
Date published: 2009-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Overview of Great Concert Works Prof. Greenberg is one of the best Teaching Company lecturers and once again he is in top form with this set of Concert Masterworks. The bad news is not every great concert masterwork is in this collection (he was not willing, apparently, to spend a couple hundred lectures on this particular course.) The good news is that for each one he presents, he does so indepth. Each work get a 3-hour treatment in 4 lectures each. If you want a deeper grasp of the classical piano concerto and the romantic violin concerto (without buy his entire course on The Concerto), and if you want to be surprised at some works you may never have heard (for me, Richard Strauss—Death and Transfiguration and Franz Liszt—Totentanz) then this is a good set for you.
Date published: 2009-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm retired & unable to attend college (there are none nearby). These courses have enriched my old age more than you can know. Thank you!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Robert Greenberg is a great teacher. Very knowledgeable. Easy to understand. Excellent presentation.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Some of the taped music was flat.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Greenberg is outstanding. His courses have helped me to truly enjoy concert music. He had enabled a non-musician to even understand it-a little.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Teaching Company's lecturers do more than simply teach and educate - they inspire us to want to learn more about a subject than is contained in the course. That inspiration to continue learning is invaluable.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my greatest days was when a friend informed me of The teaching Company - and - Dr. Robert Greenberg! Fantastic Lecturer.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Greenberg is a outstanding teacher and we would consider any course he taught. we look forward to other course as well.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It is clear Professor Greenberg puts a lot of effort & enthusiasm into his teaching
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love professor Goldberg's courses. He makes me want to drive more just to listen to him.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Greenberg is outstanding.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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