Great Masters: Mahler-His Life and Music

Course No. 756
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 756
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Course Overview

"I am thrice homeless, as a Bohemian in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, as a Jew throughout the world—everywhere an intruder, never welcomed." Thus spoke Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), composer, conductor, symphonist. More than many other composers, Gustav Mahler's works are highly personal expressions of his inner world, a world characterized by an overwhelming alienation and loneliness.

Some of this feeling can be attributed to Mahler's Jewish heritage and his critics' response to it. Part of his isolation began in childhood, a reaction to a brutal father and the loss of eight siblings, including his beloved brother Ernst.

The tensions created by the mix of Czech, Germanic, and Jewish cultures Mahler was raised in is one of the elements that makes his work so striking and powerful.

Incredibly, Mahler was able to unite the diversity of his world and his often tortured emotional makeup into rich and original music.

The First Generation of Expressionism

This course offers a biographical and musical study of Mahler, who, along with being a composer, was the greatest opera conductor of his time.

Mahler was a titan of post-Romantic musical history. His symphonies are vast musical repositories of his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual expression. His work constitutes the first generation of Expressionism, the early 20th-century art movement that celebrates inner reality as the only reality.

Unlike other Expressionist composers, however, Mahler used the musical language of the 19th century to explore expressive themes very "20th century" in their nature.

These lectures on Mahler bring to life this complex, anxiety-bound visionary, whose continual search for perfection and the answers to life's mysteries is profoundly reflected in his symphonies and songs. These lectures also include more than a dozen excerpts from Mahler's symphonies and other works.

Passion Tempered by Artistic Control

"I might suggest that we find Mahler's music so unbelievably moving today because of its angst. Its uncontrollable extroversion, optimism, and pessimism; its sheer power and often schizophrenic emotional progressions are even more relevant to us than to the music's original audience," states Professor Robert Greenberg.

"Mahler's music is a mixture of brilliant, rich, irregularly changing harmonies; of extraordinary, often grotesque, juxtapositions of moods: tragedy, humor, farce, irony; constant, almost obsessive melodic activity; sudden, unexpected explosions of passion or rage that disappear as quickly as they come; strutting march music heard back-to-back with Viennese love music; and a pure, crystalline, overwhelming passion untempered by the 'civilizing' effect of artistic control and manipulation."

Mahler's Inner Landscape

As a child, Mahler built a fantasy world to retreat to as a defense against abuse and loneliness. This ability to retreat reveals itself in the highly personal inner landscapes of Mahler's music. From the time he was quite young, he was entranced by music and became devoted to the piano from about the age of five.

From the beginning of his compositional career to its end, from Songs of a Wayfarer (1885) to The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde) (1909), Mahler's music is about himself, the lonely, isolated individual. He used his compositions as an outlet, a coping tool. Through his music, Mahler coped with some of the deepest issues of life:

  • Romantic rejection (Songs of a Wayfarer, 1885)
  • The struggle between hope and despair (Symphony no. 1, 1888)
  • Questions raised by death and redemption (Symphony no. 2, 1894)
  • Relationships between an individual and nature (Symphony no. 3, 1896)
  • The death of children (Kindertotenlieder, 1904)
  • Grief (Symphony no. 5, 1902).

He Never Heard His Masterpiece Performed

In later life, the death of Mahler's elder daughter, Maria, in 1907—along with his resignation from the Royal Viennese Opera and the diagnosis of heart disease—was the beginning of the end for him. Maria, Mahler's favorite, lingered for two weeks. The pain of her illness was almost unbearable for him. Apparently, Mahler never spoke to anyone about the death of his daughter. He even forbade his wife from wearing mourning clothes.

However, in 1908, Mahler threw himself into composing Das Lied von der Erde as his only solace from the grief of his daughter's death. Das Lied von der Erde is a symphonic song cycle, consisting of six songs. Mahler arranged the songs to create a progressive drama about loss, grief, memory, disintegration, and, ultimately, transfiguration.

Das Lied von der Erde tells—from an idealized past in which all things are possible, back to the deadened emotions of the present, and beyond—the bittersweet realization that although life is reborn endlessly, there is no rebirth for the individual.

This song cycle doesn't really end. It expires. It hangs on a dissonance that never resolves. All pain is gone, all individuality is lost, and we are left with a feeling of awesome, profound acceptance and resignation to the inevitable.

Das Lied von der Erde is considered one of Mahler's great masterpieces, but he did not live to hear it performed. It was premiered seven months after his death.

Not a Composer of Operas, but a Brilliant Conductor of Them

Although we know him for his compositions, Mahler first made a name for himself first as a conductor. He started out conducting operettas and worked his way up to conducting at the Royal Vienna Opera, the New York Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic.

His performances were almost magical for his audiences and he ultimately achieved critical acclaim as one of the greatest conductors in musical history.

His conducting career was nevertheless marked by difficulties. He tyrannized the performers and fought with theater management. The anti-Semitic press—particularly in Vienna—continued to attack him with ferocity.

And, Mahler, the greatest opera conductor of his time—perhaps the greatest of all time—wrote no operas.

"His symphonies are his operas," says Professor Greenberg. "They are his all-inclusive art works; his universal statements about life, death, love, redemption, religion, God, nature, resignation, and the human condition in all its glory and folly."

Experience Music that Defines Its Creator

"As you follow these lectures, you'll find yourself using not only the facts you learn but your own powers of imagination, intuition, and instinct to uncover this music's inner workings," says Professor Greenberg.

"You will find Mahler's symphonies are unique. No other body of work, by any composer, traverses such expressive range, so brilliantly combines absolute orchestral/symphonic music with vocal music, so clearly and profoundly define their creator, and are so honestly and deeply felt."

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

Das klagende Lied (1878)
Symphony no. 1 (1888)
St. Anthony of Padua Preaches to the Fishes, from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1893)
Symphony no. 2 (1894)
Songs of a Wayfarer, no. 2: Ging heut` Morgen übers Feld (1884; orchestrated 1896)
Symphony no. 3 (1896)
Symphony no. 4 (1900)
Symphony no. 5 (1902)
Symphony no. 6 (1904)
Symphony no. 7 (1905)
Symphony no. 8 (1907)
Das Lied von der Erde (1909)
Symphony no. 9 (1910)

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8 lectures
 |  Average 45 minutes each
  • 1
    Introduction and Childhood
    From the time he was quite young, Mahler was entranced by music and became devoted to the piano from about the age of five. One of the most significant aspects of his life was his sense of alienation, brought on largely by his Jewish heritage. Tensions created by the Czech, Germanic, and Jewish culture of which Mahler was a part may be one of the elements that makes his work so striking and fascinating. x
  • 2
    Mahler the Conductor
    Mahler's early life was deeply affected by the death of his brother and influenced by the work of Richard Wagner. He studied, composed, and became a conductor at the Royal Hungarian Opera in Budapest. x
  • 3
    Early Songs and Symphony No. 1
    Mahler's years in Budapest were quite successful. He composed many lieder, German romantic songs. In 1887, Mahler discovered a poetic anthology, Des knaben Wunderhorn, or The Youth's Magic Horn, which became one of his greatest inspirations. Later that year he began composing his Symphony no. 1, which focuses on the struggle between hope and despair. x
  • 4
    The Wunderhorn Symphonies
    In 1893 Mahler returned to composing, beginning with Symphony no. 2, the first of the so-called Wunderhorn symphonies. Symphony no. 3, written almost immediately after the second, is a natural companion piece. The Symphony no. 4 is Mahler's "classical" symphony, addressing a child's innocent view of life and heaven without the intervening step of death. x
  • 5
    Alma and Vienna
    In November of 1901, Mahler met Alma Schindler, and in March of the following year, the two were married. His appointment as music director in 1897 at the Vienna Opera created a firestorm in the press, but his debut was a triumph. He also instituted reforms at the opera, and his first few years there were phenomenally successful. x
  • 6
    Family Life and Symphony No. 5
    Mahler experienced the best years of his life from 1902 to 1907. He and Alma had started a family and built a summerhouse where Mahler could compose. In 1902, Mahler completed his Symphony no. 5, a superb example of the Expressionist art movement. Mahler befriended Arnold Schönberg, one of the most well-known Expressionist composers of the early 20th century. x
  • 7
    Symphony No. 6, and Das Lied von der Erde
    Three events shattered the Mahlers' lives in 1907: his resignation from the Royal Vienna Opera, the death of their elder daughter, and the diagnosis of his heart disease. In 1908, Mahler threw himself into composing Das Lied von der Erde as an attempt to find solace from the grief of his daughter's death. The work is a symphonic song cycle about loss, grief, memory, disintegration, and transfiguration. x
  • 8
    Das Lied, Final Symphonies, and the End
    Mahler next completed Symphony no. 9, which is filled with contemplation of his own mortality. Symphony no. 10 was left incomplete at his death. During this time, Mahler was working in New York and spending the off seasons in Europe. He died in Vienna in 1911; according to Alma his last word was: "Mozart!" 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: Mahler-His Life and Music is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 39.
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Fair But Not Great Course There is much to like about this course. You get the usual Wikipedia background which is helpful in understanding the man and the music. There is reasonable coverage for each of Mahler's symphonies. And the Greenberg YPM, yucks per minute, is slightly lower than average. There is something missing however. Mahler seems to be somewhat of a jerk. His treatment of Alma is deplorable yet Greenberg seems to place the responsibility for that behavior on Alma rather than on Gustav. She was, after all, young and attractive. There is an inconsistency here in that Greenberg comes out swinging with other self-centered composers, Wagner and Beethoven, to name a couple. Yet there is an apologist tone for Mahler. Perhaps that's too niggly. Remove the basic Wikipedia material and you've got a lot of air time that could have been devoted to the music. Yes, the background is indeed helpful but it needs to be in balance with the instruction of the music. Few of us will remember what year a particular piece was written but we will remember why the Song of the Earth wasn't given the designation of Symphony number 10. The jokes again detract from the presentation but there aren't as many and they are more subtle, thus less annoying than in other Greenberg productions. I was discussing this course with a friend who asked, "Is that another course from that guy with all the pompous jokes? I can't watch that guy." I too have a hard time watching Greenberg but the audio versions are okay. On balance, this a C+ course. For the sake of scale, I gave his Wagner lectures an F and his Shostakovich production an A. (So you know I'm not just anti-Greenberg) I am mixed about recommending the course. If you truly want to increase your appreciation of Mahler's music, this course might work for you. I wanted less easy to find biography and more analysis of the music. To be fair, the course is billed as a Mahler biography. Would love to hear your comments, especially about the jokes. I find them distracting but you may find them entertaining.
Date published: 2015-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg scores again ! DVD REVIEW: Yet another winner from the always-effervescent, wildly-expressive (and slightly corny) Dr Robert Greenberg sporting his 70s-style 'tache! I was fascinated to learn that Mahler considered his Jewish heritage a burden and a terrible hindrance to his career, that he thought himself an eternal outsider. His early life was most revealing. The emphasis that the professor places on Mahler's background, experiences and activities, and his career source, is rightly given I believe, for it all helps explain his works... and although we hear only snippets of Mahler's music, there are plenty of low-cost CDs available, and even free excerpts on the Web; I just downloaded a Mahler funeral march from YouTube. The lecture on Mahler as a conductor is a classic, with plenty of quotes and humour. The following lecture (Early Songs and Symphony No. 1) is brilliant, with Dr Greenberg at the piano to give explanations of the remarkable Titan Symphony No.1 in D Major. The balance of this course reflects Dr Greenberg's deep knowledge, experience, and love of the masters of classical music, and Mahler comes right to the fore in these lectures. Heartily recommended, a keeper.
Date published: 2013-10-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Alas, too short for Mahler! Mahler didn't write as much music as Beethoven or Haydn (or many other composers for that matter), but his huge symphonies require longer audio "chunks" than can be offered in a short course like this one. A few of the symphonies are barely heard at all, yet Greenberg curiously devotes a huge amount of time to "Das Lied van der Erde," my least favorite Mahler work. Mahler's songs are also given short shrift. Yet, as always, the biographical part of the course is fascinating, especially the portion relating to how Mahler's Jewishness affected his music and career. It's an adequate introduction, but I wish it could have been longer.
Date published: 2012-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Ignorati's Review Going into this course, I knew nothing about Mahler or his music. Now coming out the far side, I feel that I know a fair bit about Mahler the man, but still don't really 'get' his music. Very little of it clicked with me (as opposed to enjoying much of what I've heard in 8 other music courses by Professor Greenburg). However, this course helped me understand why I don't get it. Mahler's music language is highly self-referential. He uses melodies from his own German lieder in his symphonies, intending to transfer the emotions of the lyrics to the instrumental pieces. If I'm remembering rightly, it was his 5th symphony about which Mahler claimed that 'no one will understand this if they're not steeped in my previous symphonies' or something to that effect. Mahler seems to demand commitment to his entire catalogue. Which feels like homework to me, since I don't particularly enjoy Lieder (I know about drei words of Deutsch, the piano accompaniments are generally not inspiring - they just back the singers - and the classical vocal style feels stilted to someone used to the natural expressiveness of ethnic folk music when stripped of the grandeur of vocal harmonies that the choral works can provide, or even the vocal gymnastics of operatic arias. I warned you that this was an Ignorati's review.) It's quite possible that the musical samples were just too short (a necessary limitation of the format and the amount of material to be covered) for me to get into the groove. And I was intrigued by the very last sample (the grand choral intro to Symphony No. 8), so I'll go check that out. But starting in on Greenburg's Tchaikovsky course was like a breath of fresh air - he must be at the opposite end of the accessibility continuum from Mahler, and seems to require almost nothing from his listeners. Despite my inability to get into the music, I did greatly enjoy the biography, so the course was still a win in my book.
Date published: 2012-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mostly excellent This is a mostly excellent but uneven course. I feel that the problems with it might be mainly due to its short length. It should probably include twice as many lectures so that it could cover the material more thoroughly. As it is, the symphonies are not all explored in-depth (for Symphony No. 4 we are only urged to "seek it out", and Symphony No. 7 -- in some ways Mahler's most enigmatic -- is not even mentioned.) I was also surprised that Dr. Greenberg utterly mis-identifies the "hammer blows" in the finale of the Sixth, along with leaving out any discussion of Mahler's superstitious feelings over leaving all three intact or the ongoing disagreement over the order in which to perform the middle two movements. Still, I learned a great deal and the course has deepened my appreciation for Mahler. Dr. Greenberg is a lively, often very witty presenter. Despite this course's shortcomings I will be recommending it to several of my friends who are Mahler buffs.
Date published: 2012-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mahleriana After each one of Prof Greenberg's great masters courses, I feel like I have become an overnight expert in the subject and wonder how he can maintain such a high level. It may seem he is speaking spontaneously, but he chooses his words and music selections well. The story of Mahler is one of a great conductor as well as composer, and his music was influenced by his childhood in which he experienced first hand many sibling deaths and funerals. This sense of morbidity comes across in his symphonies and Lieder. We can thank an early fan named Nathalie Lechner for the detailed records she transcribed about Mahler, which became known as Mahleriana. Some great works from his early career include the Songs of the Wayfarer and Knaben Wunderhorn Lieder. His later life was highlighted by his marriage to the young Alma, who sacrificed much to be with Gustav. She was an interesting character, and dallied with such artists as Gustav Klimt and Walter Gropius. The crucial events of his later life are detailed, such as leaving the Vienna opera director position, his daughter Maria's death, and his own cardiac condition. Of note, by listening carefully to this course one can see how the social seeds of anti-semitism were planted long before Hitler's ascent. When Greenberg recommends a piece enough to purchase, he is often on the mark. The ones highly recommended here are Mahler's symphony #5 and his Das Lied von der Erde. The most famous Mahler movement is the adagietto from Symphony 5. He is especially effusive in his praise for Das Lied, and I wish he could have devoted a single lecture to it instead of spreading it out over 2 lectures. In sum, another home run by Greenberg. His shorter biographies force him to stay on target, and he often balances biography with music. This one leans toward the biography side, as his early life was so important and his wife was such a colorful character. I don't think there was a single note in lecture 5, but still a must for any classical music aficionado.
Date published: 2012-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg picks up the fifth star This is the sixth course in Greenberg's Great Masters series that I've listened to, and it's the best so far. An excellent brlend of biography and music. The layout of the course was quite instructive (as opposed to say the Beethoven chapter), and he goes into a good amount of detail about both his life and the significance of his musical contributions. Looking forward to going through the rest of the series.
Date published: 2011-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mahler for non-experts Being strictly a music consumer (from wailing Country to Keith Jarrett to Classical) without any ambition, nor auditory ability, to dissect musical scores into their finer points, I came upon this course after a friend’s characterization of Mahler’s music being “romantic” rather than “modern”, as my prejudice, formed in the distant past without knowing any of his music, claimed. And what a treat it was! Dr. Greenberg presents a captivating and well-balanced mix of biography and music. He weaves a fascinating narrative around Mahler the man and Mahler the composer and conductor and the times in which he lived. The prejudice he encountered as well as the pain he inflicted on others and then suffered himself as a consequence. What I like about Dr. Greenberg’s presentations (hearing “Mahler” inspired me to listen to the other “life and music” courses) is that he does not shy away from the more salacious aspects of his subjects’ lives, making them human rather than godly geniuses. In fact, his discussion of Mahler’s encounter with Freud after his wife’s infidelity made me notice a film (Percy Adlon’s “Mahler auf der Couch”) that I may otherwise never have become aware of, and watching it was greatly enhanced by having Dr. Greenberg’s lectures as a background. In the same vane, I probably would not have read the Economist’s review of a recently published book (“Why Mahler” by Norman Lebrecht) and subsequently the book itself, without having been sensitized by this course. In other words, Dr. Greenberg’s six hours of lectures has motivated further engagement with Mahler (almost needless to say, I also put all of Mahler’s symphonies on my iPod) and this is perhaps the most important résumé of the course: that it inspires to want to know more.
Date published: 2011-07-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing Greenberg is always energetic and entertaining, however I bought this course hoping for a detailed analysis of the themes and inspirations of each of Mahler's symphonies. This course only examines symphonies #1, 2 and 5 in any detail, and spends way too much time on Das Lied von der Erde. Inexplicably, symphony #7 is never mentioned, not even briefly to apologize for having to pass over it (as Greenberg often does for other works). Not recommended.
Date published: 2010-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Biography Though I possessed this DVD for over a year now, it was only over the last 4 days that I went through it. The result: I am completely bowled over by Mahler's genius. Professor Greenberg has always done a very good job on most TLC courses. But this one together with the Beethoven symphonies & the Brahms biography is his best. The phasing of the contents, the emphasis on explaining the context of any work in order to understand its merit, the historical connections, the choice of works and recordings - all these are done so well that when the course ended, I was a converted Mahlerian fan. One of the first tasks that I did was to send a mail to my sister in the UK to send me CDs of the recommended works of his. What was disappointing : Lack of information on which recordings to tap into. I understand the legal reasons for Profesoor Greenberg not providing it but for most learners confronted with a huge library of music available, it is a daunting task to select the follow through recordings, without which this course does not really meet its objective. A suggestion: You cannot recommend recordings but would it be possible as a value add to give a Music appreciation road map at the end of each course.
Date published: 2010-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow. Captivating and compelling lectures on one of the great artists in the pantheon.
Date published: 2010-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Insights into a Great Mind Having enjoyed Mahler's great symphonies for nearly fifty years I now have a better understanding of the deep thought and emotion behind them. Dr. Greenberg superbly presented the composer as a product of his frustrating childhood and the tragedies of his later albeit too short life.
Date published: 2010-04-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not enough Music! After purchasing some of Professor Greenburg's other courses I was disappointed in his lectures on Mahler. Perhaps because there is more contemporary information available on the composer, the course had more gossip and details about his life, rather than an exploration of his music. I would recommend the other series about Beethoven, the history of Classical Music and Bach over this fluffy, irreverant series.
Date published: 2010-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Ovation fpr Greenberg!!! The lecturer is fantastic. This was my first exposure to Greenberg and, let me tell you, the guy is great! He's funny, articulate, lively... even when dealing with the rather depressing aspects of Mahler's life. I have purchased How to Listen to and Understand Great Music and now I am an even bigger fan of Greenberg and his series. He has lifted me out of my musical ignorance and given me something to build on. I plan to get all of them. Get these lectures...although I cannot vouch for all of them since I haven't listened to them all, I know Greenberg will not disappoint.
Date published: 2010-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mahler: Life, Man, Music In these two DVDs, Robert Greenberg approaches Mahler by asking how Mahler's life shaped Mahler the man, how Mahler the man shaped Mahler the composer, and how both shaped the body of work that Gustav Mahler left us. With so short a course, much has to be left out. Here and there Greenberg gives us a glimpse into the musical structure of a symphony or a song. I long for more; as a non-musician who finds Mahler's work compelling and sometimes painfully beautiful, every bit of knowledge is precious to me. I suspect that no amount of analysis can reveal how a composer who so heavily re-used thematic materials managed to make every one of his works so original and fresh. Perhaps a greater weakness is the short time spent on the last symphonies, and especially the Eighth. How Mahler, who was not only steeped in tragedy but who considered it a virtue, could escape the great theme of his life in a symphony about escape from tragedy itself, a symphony whose inner drive seems to be escape from all earthly limit, is a question worth pondering at length. Mahler the man was no god, nor did he live what could remotely be called a balanced life. He suffered, and he imposed suffering on others for the sake of his work. Some of it was necessary; much was probably needless and certainly selfish. You will learn about the triumphs and the very real suffering of a man both deeply flawed and transcendently brilliant. A longer course could also spend some time on Mahler's legacy and how it developed. Mahler's conducting protege Bruno Walter survived into the Space Age, leaving us quite a few high-fidelity recordings of performances of Mahler's work. Are Walter's recordings our best record of how the works should be performed? And how did the man whom Leonard Bernstein called "One of the saints of music" carry the legacy of Mahler's tragedy and internal fury? There really is enough material for a four-disc course. This is an older course. The introduction before the disk menus speaks of "these tapes." The content will not grow stale and the production values are uniformly excellent notwithstanding the age of the course. Greenberg is visibly younger in it than in many other Teaching Company courses, and his trademark delivery style is not quite so accomplished as it is in newer courses, but his energy and humor are all there. If you have any interest whatsoever in Mahler, Mahler's music, or the progression from Romanticism to the twentieth century in music, I highly recommend this course. Just realize that you WILL come away wanting more.
Date published: 2010-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Death and Jewish Music Prof. Greenberg it at his brilliant best in these lectures on the life and music of Mahler. We are transported to the world of late C19 / early C20 Vienna where virulent anti-semitism and high culture mixed. We learn of Mahlers obsession with death, his passion for Alma and the influence of his Jewish background on his music. If only there had been more time to explore the Mahler symphonies in depth, but the extracts Greenberg plays whet the listerner's appetite. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2009-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots of musical examples My husband and I have played music by Mahler with our community orchestra but knew nothing about him or how he came to be a composer. Dr. Greenberg did an excellent job bringing his life to light for us. We have a deeper appreciation of his music after hearing Dr. Greenberg discuss his wonderful and thoughtful examples by this composer. All the Great Masters courses are well worth the effort and time to study.
Date published: 2009-07-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Masters: Mahler - His Life and Music Taught by Robert Greenberg 8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture Dr.Greenberg has done a great job presenting the life and work of one of the most interesting and deeply personal of the musical composers at the turn of the 20th century. Mahler, perhaps more than any other composer in the series, produced deeply personal music that profoundly represented the inner soul of it's creator. Dr. Greenberg expertly opens up the life and music of this complex, expressive and often tormented genius of the modern musical world. Dr. Greenberg is at his best in this course where the composer and his works are so intimately inseparable. Dr. Greenberg provides examples of the composer's work with his keen insight and analysis drawing not only from all of the nine symphonies but from other works such as "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" and "Das Lied von der Erde " 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 "Mahler—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: 2009-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Touch of Mahler Some may think that Mahler deserves more than the 8 lectures in this biographical series, but I think Prof. Greenberg does a good job of putting Mahler's work in proportion. (Who wouldn't want several courses more on Mozart and Beethoven, sacrificing Mahler and others in the process?) Prof. Greenberg is a great teacher, and for those of you who want a solid survey of Mahler's life and works, this set fills the bill. Like so many Teaching Company customers, just about anything Prof. Greenberg does is okay with me. We always want more and await each year for his latest course. Perhaps when Prof. Greenberg finds himself still cranking out lectures in his 80s, he will give Mahler a more thorough treatment.
Date published: 2009-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Greenberg masterpiece: his "Great Masters" courses have yet to let me down. Always engaging (if sometimes a little corny and over-the-top in his presentations), Greenberg does an excellent job of portraying both Mahler's life and his music. I always finish these Great Masters courses knowing so much more about the composers and why their music is considered great.
Date published: 2009-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm so glad for The Teaching Company! You have shown me that learning can be an immensely enjoyable and fulfilling experience!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Keep Greensburg producing courses.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Going to the university to study my favorite subjects in the privacy of my own house.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed the course. Did find Mahler's life and music a bit depressing - especially after taking the Brahms course.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dr. Greenberg's music courses are exceptional! - insightful, educational, entertaining, and fun. I've never considered myself a classical music fan, but am rapidly gaining new understanding, appreciation and enjoyment.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I look forward to traveling in my car to and from work now that I have these wonderful cd's
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greeberg is excellent. I would purchase any course from him.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The hours I've spent listening to your CDs are amonst my most treasured hours. Your courses are a gold mine of intellectual pleasure.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I am getting the liberal arts education I didn't get forty years ago!
Date published: 2008-10-17
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