Great Masters: Beethoven-His Life and Music

Course No. 755
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 755
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Course Overview

Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the most prolific and inspiring forces in the history of music. With his brilliant compositions and his unique approach to the piano, he changed the face of western concert music forever. After Beethoven nothing could ever be the same again.

This course by Professor Robert Greenberg is a biographical and musical study of Beethoven . It puts the great musician's life in a social, political, and cultural context.

First and foremost, it is a biographical study, and includes excerpts from more than a dozen of Beethoven's works.You will learn about Beethoven's:

  • Dysfunctional family life and relationships with his mother, father, paternal grandfather, and brothers
  • Musical training, especially his unique approach to the piano
  • Appearance and attitude
  • Celebrity in music- and piano-crazed Vienna
  • Compositional successes including symphonies, piano sonatas, and string quartets, among many others
  • Hearing loss and the crisis of 1802
  • Delusions and his relationship with his nephew Karl.

You learn about the core features of some of his greatest music, but without the detailed, technical analyses in the courses The Symphonies of Beethoven, or in the Concert Masterworks series, wherein Professor Greenberg discusses Beethoven's Emperor Concerto and Violin Concerto.

Reinventing Musical Expression in the Western World

Beethoven's appearance was somewhat off-putting. He was short with a thick body and an unusually large head, covered with his famous wild hair. Heinrich Friedrich Ludwig Rellstab, a journalist, music critic, and contemporary of Beethoven's, described his hair as "Not frizzy, not straight, but a mixture of everything."

Beethoven was physically clumsy; he was liable to knock over or break anything he touched. He could not keep time when dancing and had problems cutting and shaping the quill pens he needed for writing.

Beethoven exhibited a pathological hatred for authority, a persecution complex, and delusional behaviors. With his deafness, these problems forced him to look inward and reinvent himself. In doing so, he reinvented the nature of musical expression in the Western world.

An Artist of Musical Transformations

Beethoven experienced "rebirth" as an artist three times over the course of his life.

Intense Composition

He was born December 17, 1770, into a dysfunctional family with an abusive and alcoholic father and a depressed mother. His musical talent was recognized early, but his father attempted to beat him into becoming a child prodigy to rival Mozart. It was a futile attempt; there could only be one Mozart.

By 1785, the young Beethoven was the family breadwinner and, in 1787, the primary caregiver for his younger brothers. In 1789, he sought and was granted some relief from these responsibilities from local authorities and experienced his first musical rebirth.

It was for him a time of intense composition. He wrote five sets of piano variations, ballet music, concert arias, chamber works for piano and winds, and two cantatas for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Pianist and Hero

When he moved to Vienna to study with Haydn in 1792, Beethoven "was living with a reputation as a virtuoso pianist in a city that was mad for pianists," says Professor Greenberg. "He outplayed virtually every other pianist in the city in competitions and became the darling of the Viennese aristocracy. During this same time, he took lessons with Haydn, although his dislike of authority figures made most music lessons a waste of time."

These early years in Vienna were also significant for his compositional career. From 1792–1803, he produced, among many other works, the Opus 1 Trios for Piano, Violin, and 'Cello; the Opus 18 string quartets; and the Symphony no. 1 in C Major.

Meanwhile, his popularity outside Vienna increased. In 1801, Beethoven's career and finances were flourishing, but he was in poor health. His hearing loss was becoming progressively worse, and he grew more and more depressed and anxious.

His emotional crisis reached a peak in 1802—but served as the creative catharsis that brought about a second musical rebirth a year later, in a self-sufficient and heroic guise, struggling against his fate.

He took as a model for this new self-image Napoleon Bonaparte, who at the time, represented a vision of individualism and empowerment.

Beethoven's music reflects this vision in its insistence on expressing the heights and depths of the artist's emotions. His Symphony no. 3 in E-flat Major, op. 55, for example, was revolutionary in its proportions and dramatic expressive content.

This first of the "Heroic Symphonies" changed the history of Western music.

During this compositional period from 1803–1812,Beethoven produced masterworks: the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Symphonies; the Violin Concerto; the Choral Fantasy; the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concerti; the five middle string quartets; the Mass in C Major; and the opera Fidelio.

But toward the end of this period, Beethoven experienced a short affair with the mysterious "Immortal Beloved," an episode that ultimately precipitated his fall into despair and public ridicule.

In his youth, Beethoven had been irrationally possessive and jealous of his brothers. So when his brother Carl died, Beethoven transferred these feelings to his nephew Karl and pursued four years of destructive litigation to gain guardianship of the boy.

"Modern" Works and the Ninth Symphony

In 1819, Beethoven used events, once again, as a catalyst for an artistic rebirth. In the last years of his life, he wrote many of his most profound, most "modern" works, including the six late string quartets, the Ninth Symphony, and the Missa Solemnis.

Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 became the single most influential piece of music composed in the 19th century. The work breaks with time-honored conventions and distinctions to give precedence to the expressive needs and desires of the artist.

During these years, Beethoven was consumed by his craft, but socially, he was still difficult with friends, family, and business associates.

An "Impossible" Composer

Beethoven died March 26, 1827. At the end of his life he had managed a reconciliation with his family and was given an affectionate tribute by the Viennese people.

When Gioacchino Rossini met Beethoven in 1822, he was stunned by the squalor of his apartment and the sadness of the artist himself. As Frances Toye tells the story, "Later, Rossini tried to do something for Beethoven, himself heading a subscription list. To no purpose, however. The answer [the Viennese gave] was always the same: Beethoven is impossible.'"

Works you'll hear in the lectures are excerpted from:

Symphony no. 7 in A Major, op. 92 (1812)
Missa Solemnis in D Major, op. 123 (1823)
Symphony no. 8 in F Major, op. 93 (1812)
Wellington's Victory , op. 91 (1813)
Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, op. 106 (1818)
Piano Sonata in C Major, op. 53 (1804)
Symphony no. 3 in E-flat Major, op. 55 (1805)
String Quartet no. 7 in F Major, op. 59, no. 1 (1806)
String Quartet no. 9 in C Major, op. 59, no. 3 (1806)
Symphony no. 6 in F Major, op. 68 (1808)
Piano Concerto no. 4 in G Major, op. 58 (1806)
Symphony no. 5 in C Minor, op. 67 (1808)
Symphony no. 9 in D Minor, op. 125 (1824)
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8 lectures
 |  Average 45 minutes each
  • 1
    The Immortal Beloved
    Beethoven's foremost physical characteristic was his hair; four strands under recent chemical analysis revealed lead poisoning that could account for the abdominal distress, irritability, and depression that Beethoven suffered from for most of his adult life. But other physical, emotional, and spiritual problems were the result of a lifetime of struggle and frustration, which forced him to look inward and reinvent himself and, in so doing, reinvent the nature of musical expression in the Western world. x
  • 2
    What Comes down Must Go up, 1813–1815
    In the summer of 1812, Beethoven composed the Symphony no. 8 in F Major, op. 83. On its surface, the symphony seems to be in the Classical style, but it is filled with modern twists and turns. He was depressed over the loss of a relationship and his worsening hearing. But in 1813, he wrote a piece of music commemorating the defeat by Wellington of one of Napoleon's armies. When it premiered in December of 1813, it garnered Beethoven a new level of popularity. x
  • 3
    What Goes up Must Come down, 1815
    Beethoven's return to fame and fortune was short lived; this lecture describes the six factors, most notably his increasing deafness, that contributed to his fall from popular grace and his plunge into emotional instability. x
  • 4
    Beethoven and His Nephew, 1815–1819
    Beethoven emerged from his shell during his second decade, through his musical talent and with the help of his teacher and mentor, Christian Gottlob Neefe. The events of these years, however, would influence Beethoven's outrageous conduct in 1815 in the litigation over custody of his nephew Karl. During these years, Beethoven's deepest fears and longings were brought to the surface. Events would also serve as a catalyst for Beethoven's next "rebirth," in 1819, and the creation of the Ninth Symphony, the Missa Solemnis, the last piano sonatas, and the six late string quartets. x
  • 5
    Beethoven the Pianist
    Aside from the Piano Sonata in B-flat, op. 106, Beethoven wrote little significant music from 1815–1819. By 1820, Beethoven was well into his third compositional period, which encompassed such masterworks as the Missa Solemnis, op. 123, and the Symphony no. 9 in D Minor, op. 125. Before this, Beethoven was living in Vienna, outplaying virtually every other pianist in the city in competitions and became the darling of the Viennese aristocracy. x
  • 6
    Beethoven the Composer, 1792–1802
    Beethoven's Viennese period, 1792–1802, was a time of assimilation, technical growth, and mastery of the existing Viennese classical style. For 18 months Beethoven devoted himself to the string quartet, composing six. Next, he turned to the symphony, premiering his Symphony no. 1 in C Major in 1800. Seemingly conservative this symphony is full of witticisms, shocking harmonic events, and unique organic developments. But his hearing loss, which began in 1796, was becoming progressively worse, as was Beethoven's despair over it. In 1802, he wrote a letter to his brothers that may have provided him a catharsis. x
  • 7
    The Heroic Ideal
    The model for Beethoven's new self-image was Napoleon Bonaparte, who represented individualism and empowerment. Later disillusioned with Bonaparte, he held on to the sense of the individual struggling and triumphing against fate. Beethoven's Symphony no. 3 in E-flat Major, op. 55 (the Eroica), for example, was revolutionary in its expression of the heights and depths of the artist's emotions. Beethoven came to be known as a radical modernist who had broken forever with the classical standards of Haydn and Mozart. x
  • 8
    Two Concerts, 1808 and 1824
    With his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, among other pieces, Beethoven became a legend. More than 15 years later, in May 1824, the Ninth Symphony was premiered to an overwhelming reception. The Ninth, regarded as the most important piece of music composed in the 19th century, embodies Beethoven's belief that the expressive needs of the artist must transcend the time-honored assumptions of art. In November 1826, Beethoven fell ill with cirrhosis of the liver and died on March 26, 1827. In the end, he had managed a reconciliation with his family and was given an affectionate tribute by the Viennese people. 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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Great Masters: Beethoven-His Life and Music is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 75.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very Disrespectful!!!! I have purchased a number of Great Masters courses by Robert Greenberg from you and generally I have been pleased with them - I have learned a lot. However, recently I purchased and completed the course: Beethoven - His Life and Music. I was very disappointed with Dr. Greenberg's, almost disrespectful treatment of a person that many consider the greatest composer. He dwelled excessively on Beethoven's personality at the expense of a serious presentation of his music and his genius. For example, mere snippets of the 6th and 9th symphonies were included and a wholly inadequate treatment of his music as a whole (the piano sonatas were barely touched on), while he droned on excessively about Beethoven’s personality.
Date published: 2012-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you just want to dabble in classical music... I only want to dabble in classical music -- I'm not a serious student of it. Given that, I enjoyed this course. Prof Greenberg did a good job of intertwining Beethoven's personal life with his music. The course contains lots and lots of anecdotal stories from Beethoven's life, and Greenberg's interpretation of the impact these might have had on shaping his style of music. Prof Greenberg is exuberant and keeps the course from becoming dry (again good for the student who only wants to dabble in classical music). The course does jump around a lot in time so it is good to be aware of that before starting - it does not go in order.
Date published: 2012-05-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good stories told out of order I am a great fan of Professor Greenberg, but I did not like the organization of this course. By abandoning the chronological approach for a topical one, I didn't walk away with as clear of a biographical narrative as with his other 'Life and Music' courses. I remember anecdotes, but they don't hang together. I'd recommend watching the film 'Immortal Beloved' before listening to these lectures, because the series dives right in with addressing questions one would have if they'd seen the popular film (like 'who was the 'immortal beloved'?) that wouldn't be very meaningful if this was your very first foray into Beethoven. The course was an interesting contrast to Greenberg's treatment of Mozart. In Mozart - His Life and Music, Wolfgang is presented as a mature, complex individual at odds with the images of him from the popular media and imagination, while this course didn't make much effort to present Beethoven as anything but a cantankerous misanthrope (albeit a brilliant one). That isn't to say I have any inside information that this portrait is incorrect - just that I felt a strong difference between the demythologizing of Mozart and the embracing of the popular image of Beethoven. Like my comment on the Haydn course, I'd have liked to learn what drove Beethoven to produce so many folksong arrangements of music from the British Isles. Was this a popular trend in Vienna? All in all, a decent course, even if I'm left feeling like I need to go read a Beethoven biography now.
Date published: 2012-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Kaleidoscope As in most of his other composer courses (the notable exception being Shostakovich) Professor Greenberg is his exuberant self as he presents a kaleidoscope of Beethoven’s life and music. I use the word “kaleidoscope” because, in contrast to his other biographies, he jumps between different stages of Beethoven’s life. I’m not sure he is entirely successful with this organization, the non-linearity does make for some incongruence in the story line, but, given the inherent limitations in a six-hour course, any resulting shortcomings are a minor distraction from the pleasure of getting, in a concise and entertaining way, a glimpse of the life and music of one of our great composers. The problems imposed by the non-chronological order notwithstanding, Professor Greenberg is at his usual best narrating Beethoven’s life and music and putting them within the cultural and political context of his era. He shows how being a musical genius and being a social jerk are not mutually exclusive but one can also feel his compassion when he talks of Beethoven’s progressing deafness. And in putting Beethoven’s musical creations within the context of his contemporary personal circumstances I was often reminded of Shelley’s “our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”. Professor Greenberg’s narrative always keeps engaging this listener. A final remark regarding the musical selection: Considering that Beethoven’s music is featured in a good number of other courses I was glad to find relatively little overlap here, even it meant that some of my favorites were missing.
Date published: 2012-03-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Surprised Professor Greenberg is just a little too 'cute' (not to mention sarcastic and arrogant) for his own good. The material was good, and I guess I would recommend it to others for the content, but the presentation was disappointing. I found the instructor offputting. I won't buy another by him (he does 34 titles???)
Date published: 2012-01-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Ugh! How could someone make Beethoven sound bad? A lot of people seem to like this Professor's style. I, on the other hand, found it detracting from the subject. I felt that he was all over the place and gave his two cents so many times that it was annoying to me. I love Beethoven and I found that this lecturer didn't do him justice. Also, the timeline was horrible. It was like a bad movie moving forward and backward through time. I kept listening because I thought it would get better. It didn't. I'm sending it back.
Date published: 2011-12-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from ENTERTAINING INTRODUCTION TO BEETHOVEN Professor Robert Greenberg provides wonderfully entertaining insights into the life and compositions of Ludwig Van Beethoven. Often, I found myself wondering if I was primarily listening to Greenberg's lectures because of his entertaining, highly opinionated perspectives or because of the excellent content. No matter what my motivation, I learned Greenberg's views of why Beethoven's music is so innovative for his day, the variances in his music over his life time, the personal struggles he encountered and generated, as well as some of the alarming idiosyncracies of this truly musical genius.
Date published: 2011-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr Greenberg It does not matter if you interested in the topic or not, Dr Greenberg makes the course an enteraining educational experience
Date published: 2011-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stimulus for Beethoven scholarship I had put off listening to this course for a while, because I went through his Beethoven piano sonatas and string quartet courses, which were each 24 lectures and covered lots of Beethoven's life somewhat redundantly. I actually think doing these courses first is good preparation for his dedicated Beethoven course, given the non-chronological order of his talks. He starts with discussion of his immortal beloved, which jumps right in and is great for grabbing the listener's attention, but could be confusing for those expecting the traditional early life and childhood introduction. I enjoyed the format, which highlights 3 major turning points in his life and explains their influence on his music. All of the important life events are discussed and put into context: his tumultuous relationship with his nephew Karl and his mother, his enigmatic immortal beloved, the French revolution and Napoleon, his progressive deafness and isolation, his revolutionary style and initial public skepticism, and his extraordinary body of work encompassing all major forms. For better understanding, I would recommend people go through Greenberg's Beethoven piano sonatas or string quartets courses as a prerequisite for this course. The other characteristics of his style are here, and should be familiar by now: the animation, the copious quotes from outside sources, and the occasional long periods of discussion without music punctuated by carefully chosen musical selections and performances.
Date published: 2011-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course, great professor! This is the first course I've listened to by Prof. Greenberg and after hearing it I know I'll be back for more. I'm a big Beethoven fan and was familiar with a little of his background. However, this course really opened my eyes (and ears) and gave me more insight into his personality and life experience, especially as to how they relate to his music. I love Greenberg's enthusiam, knowledge and relaxed style of presentation. His sly sense of humor made me laugh out loud. The only minor problem I had was the time line of events but I learned to pay close attention to dates while he was speaking. Overall, this course is highly informative and enjoyable and the professor is so engaging. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a better understanding of Beethoven and his life. I wish he would do a course devoted to Chopin.
Date published: 2011-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good There was an excellent mixture of lecture and music. Prof Greenberg's use of the piano to illustrate his musical points was excellent. I had previously listened to his Haydn and Mozart lectures. I believe that this set was superior to both of those, for the reasons mentioned above and because he limited his use of "humorous" strings of synonyms to make points (or maybe I've grown accustomed to this). My only complaint is the interesting non-chronological approach. For those familiar with Beethoven, this probably allows an improved thematic understanding of the most important highlights of his life. But for those who -- like me -- knew almost nothing about him, this approach resulted in less learning than might otherwise have occurred.
Date published: 2010-06-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from chronology may be confusing Prof. Greenberg is great as usual, but his non-chronological approach may be confusing to those completely unfamiliar with Beethoven or the period in which he lived. It wasn't to me, but I can sympathize with some of the previous reviewers.
Date published: 2010-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent An excellent biography. The author really puts Beethoven in perspective with respect to classicism, romanticism, and beyond. Although some aspects of his life were deeply troubling, it was great to see he was able to pick himself out of his despair and use it as a stimulus for reinventing his life and music.
Date published: 2010-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite of Greenberg's Series I own virtually every one of Mr. Greenberg's lecture series, being a huge classical music fan and admirer of the good professor's style and delivery. This particular biographic series is notable in my very favorite. One reviewer noted that he found the lack of a purely chronologic narrative off-putting, but I feel the complete opposite. There's something much more engaging - one can sense that Dr. Greenberg truly feels a great passion for Beethoven and his music. And the unique and highly creative organization allows this passion and energy to flow freely! The entire biography series is priceless. This is, in my opinion, the best, followed closely by the Schumann.
Date published: 2010-02-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Much As Advertized Some of the reviews have criticized this course for not going more into Beethoven's music. I might have enjoyed that, too, but I suspect that the music per se is the reason for Greenberg's OTHER courses specifically about Beethoven's music. I had some trouble deciding how high to rate this course. I think the information is rather interesting and very well presented (and, so, on that basis would be worthy of 5 stars). However, by the end of the course I concluded that I personally did not care--or did not need to know--THAT much about Beethoven's life. And, of course, that is simply my personal bias; it is not the professor's fault. I deem 4 stars to be a high rating, and I do recommend this course, with the foregoing reservations.
Date published: 2010-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lectures More Tumultuous than Beethoven's Own Life I was put off by the avant garde approach of this course. The decision to begin "in medias res" -- at the point of the 7th Symphony -- didn't work for me. I found that the written course description on the Teaching Company web site was more helpful in summarizing Beethoven's life history than the disjointed presentation of the lectures. Greenberg is obviously a popular lecturer, and it apparently is my misfortune that this is the first of his courses that I have listened to. I hope his approach here is aberrational. I would have preferred a more linear approach.
Date published: 2009-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Biography This course works well for listening to while driving. I did not know about Beethoven's sister-in-law trying to help him when he was dying, even though he had malevolently stolen her son from her. It was emotionally moving.
Date published: 2009-10-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Good but Not Greenberg's Best This course is one of ten "Great Master" biographies by the wonderful Professor Greenberg. Although a biography of history's greatest composer -- Beethoven -- this course falls somewhat short of the other lecture sets in the Great Master group. The reason for my slight disappointment probably is that the good professor takes a non-linear approach to Beethoven's life. Instead of starting with his childhood, then progressing through young adulthood and so on to old age, Professor Greenberg begins his narrative in the middle of Beethoven's career, and then jumps back and forth in a seemingly disjointed manner. The result is an uneven presentation; it feels as if you strolled in off the street somewhere in the middle of a movie and you're never quite sure if you saw enough of it to grasp the entire plot. This course does indeed provide much enjoyment, and is a disappointment only in comparison with other superb lecture sets in this series. For a sampling of Greenberg at his very best I would highly recommend the professor's courses on Beethoven's symphonies or piano sonatas, or any of the other nine Great Master biographies, especially those of Shostakovitch, Brahms, Liszt, and the Schumans.
Date published: 2009-06-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from showy, but poor i bought the cds based partly on the superb reviews. i was bitterly disappointed and have returned them, an option that i have only once before utilized. there is a lot of cutesy language about the composer and his life with a fair amount of pop psych (the terrible father's role, etc.), but there is little about the music that one hasn't read in orchestral program notes. potential buyers should be warned that if they're buying this course to learn much serious about beethoven's music, they will be sorely disappointed.
Date published: 2009-05-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Short Survey of Beethoven and his Music Great Masters: Beethoven - His Life and Music Taught by Robert Greenberg 8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture In this series Dr. Greenberg discusses the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven in light of the social and political influences on the composer. In this lecture series more than a dozen examples are give of the composer's music.Through these examples, Dr. Greenberg makes a strong claim for Beethoven being perhaps the most influencial composer of all time. This series of eight lecture develops non-sequentialy, examining his disfunctional family upbringing, his developing successes and later life.Excellent examples are given with Dr. Greenberg's keen insight. The series is too short to even begin to understand the music and life of this composer but the speaker has two other courses on the sonatas and symphonies of Beethoven and are well worth exploring. Dr. Greenberg is one of the most prolific and popular speakers in the Teaching Company Collection. He is both a renowned scholar of music history and a composer in his own right, having had his own music recorded and performed worldwide. His many music courses with TTC include "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music", "The Symphony", "The Concerto" among many many others. This course titled "Beethoven—His Life and Music" is one of ten courses highlighting the life and music of major classical composers from Hayden to Shostakovich. The courses in this series are interesting in that they emphasize the importance of the composers lives and the historical context in which the music was created.
Date published: 2009-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Immortal Beloved Beethoven is the third of Prof. Greenberg's "Great Masters" lecture courses I have listened to and reviewed - after Mozart and Haydn - which I gave five stars, I wish I could give this one six! Each lecture is a brilliant mixture of story-telling, psychological insight and musicological information. Prof. Greenberg does not follow a strictly chronological approach - as he did with Mozart and Haydn - instead he picks out episodes in Beethoven's life - such as the "immortal beloved" affair and his disgusting behaviour towards his sister-in-law and the ugly litigation over custody of his nephew - then gives us a flash back to Beethoven's childhood (when he suffered abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father). Prof. Greenberg paints a convincing picture of the artist as hero and tormented genius and suggests that - tragic though Beethoven's deafness was - it was the catalyst of his musical creativity and originality in his final years.
Date published: 2009-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's About the Hair Professor Greenberg's storytelling abilities shine brightly in these lectures on Beethoven as he starts the course by talking about the composer's hair - apparently tests done on Beethoven's hair show it contained an enormous amount of lead - could this be the cause of Beethoven's famous mood swings? Learn how Beethoven emerged from Mozart's shadow - how his career developed along with the evolution of the piano - and how he re-created himself several times hundreds of years before the material girl became famous for her career extending chameleon acts. Who was the "immortal beloved?" It's in these lectures. A story as riveting as any ever told by a lecturer blessed with superlative oratory skills. You won't be able to stop listening to these lectures until you have finished the last one. Even then, you may feel compelled to immediately start listening to them again.
Date published: 2009-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It got my 13yr old hooked Professor Greenberg hooked me with his outstanding "Understanding the Fundamentals of Music". I bought the Great Masters series and have deepened my love for and enjoyment of some great music. My 13 yr old - Mr. "I don't like classical music" mentioned that a teacher was talking about Beethoven in his middle school. I told him that Ludwig's friends called him "Louis" and that during a concert in 1808 he halted the orchestra about half way though, yelled "FROM THE BEGINNING" and made them repeat the whole piece - facts I learned form this course. Well, this piqued my son's interest, so I played Professor Greenberg's lecture on "The concert of Dec 22, 1808" for him and the boy is hooked. The musical excerpts color the story telling and bring to life the outrageous character and sublime music of this great composer. Thank you Professor for helping to bring the gift of good music to my teenage som.
Date published: 2009-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Revelations Prof. Greenberg delivers quite a non-linear course with his "Great Masters: Beethoven-His Life and Music." He starts with the famous Immortal Beloved letter and reveals that the woman in the movie was not the real-life woman in Beethoven's life. It turns out that Beethoven was an even more thoroughly unpleasant person than we imagined: slovenly, rude, and even seriously delusional. It also turns out that his artistic achievements were greater than we imagined. I loved the way Prof. Greenberg shows how Bach became a greater and greater influence in Beethoven's composing, especially in his later works. Prof. Greenberg is the best lecturer at The Teaching Company. If you plan on buying one of these 10 Great Masters courses, you might as well save money and shipping and buy the complete set. Prof. Greenberg is completely addicting.
Date published: 2009-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More Entertaining than TV -- But Educational Too This review applies to the entire Great Masters courses by Dr. Greenberg. Everything by Dr. Greenberg is exceptionally informative and entertaining. I loved this series because it is a great mix of solid academic information about the composer and his work along with lots of dishy details of the composer's life and psychology. I looked forward to watching one lecture each night as though I were following an engaging television series. Fun, informative -- what more could you want?
Date published: 2009-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from at 79+ years i may not grasp things fully but a joy to try prof. greenberg shot down one of my hero's
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Professor Greenberg is superb, dynamic, erudite and entertaining.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I was overwhelmed by the company's generosity when all my Teaching company courses, destroyed by the flood following hurricane Katrina, were replaced w/o charge.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The courses are so well organized and presented that whether you have little background on the subject or quite a bit they are interesting and instructive.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In my retirement, you have helped to add tremendously to my great love of classical music. kudos for Dr. Greenberg.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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