Great Masters: Mozart-His Life and Music

Course No. 752
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 752
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Course Overview

He composed his first symphony at the age of 8. His middle name means "loved of God." And Austrian Emperor Joseph II accused his music of having "too many notes." This course is a biographical and musical study of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), who composed more than 600 works of beauty and brilliance in just over 20 years.

According to Professor Robert Greenberg, Mozart's music combined the pure lyricism of song with dramatic timing, depth of expression, and technical mastery of the complexities of phrase structure and harmony that allowed him to create a body of work unique in the repertoire.

Will the Real Wolfgang Please Stand Up?

And his personal life has generated nearly as much interest as his music. Who was Mozart? Was he the fair-haired boy-divinity of 19th-century Romanticism? Was he indeed the horse-laughing lout of recent theater and cinema? Was he borderline autistic or musical freak?

Was he an artistic traditionalist working happily within Haydn-defined Classicism? A social and musical rebel at war with a patronage system?

What did his contemporaries think of his music? Why was he so passionate about writing operas? How did he view his audience, his patrons, and his fellow composers? Does any of his music reflect his own moods or states of mind?

Who and what were the crucial influences in his life and his art? And how did he die?

You learn about Mozart's:

  • Journey from youthful prodigy to posthumous deification
  • Difficult relationship with his father
  • Tours to London and Paris
  • Struggles for a successful career
  • Marriage to Constanze Weber
  • Triumphs and disappointments in Vienna
  • Relationships with Haydn, Emperor Joseph II, and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte.

"Much of today's Mozart scholarship is about debunking myths," says Professor Greenberg. "One of the reasons for the Mozart mythology is the fact that few responsible accounts of Mozart's life and personality were written during his lifetime. Much was written years after his death.

"Mozart's extraordinary, prodigious talent also fueled the notion that he was some kind of freak. At the heart of the Mozart mythology is the otherworldliness of his music. His middle name, Amadeus, 'loved of God,' also helped to imbue him with a God-like image.

"The goal of these lectures is to show Mozart to be a person: a talented, hard-working, ambitious man who had friends and enemies and whose music was subject to criticism in his own day."

Mozart's Early Life: Young Apprentice and a Domineering Father

The reality is that Mozart, like any other composer, served an apprenticeship. What is extraordinary is that Mozart's apprenticeship began at such a tender age; he wrote his first symphony at the age of 8 and was a mature composer by age 20, when most other composers are beginning their training.

He had an extraordinary memory and an ability to compose whole symphonies in his head. He worked extremely hard, frequently to the point of exhaustion—often at breakneck speed, amid squadrons of distractions, and without putting pen to paper until every last note of a new work had been composed in his head.

Mozart's early life was dominated by his father. Leopold Mozart counted on his children's musical talents to bring him the fame and fortune he could not earn for himself. The grand tour of 1763–1766 made the Mozart family the sensation of Europe and turned the small, fragile, desperate-to-please Wolfgang into an international celebrity and the family's main breadwinner.

Mozart learned his craft by absorbing the music of the best composers of his day: Johann Christian Bach (eleventh son of Johann Sebastian Bach) and the legendary Franz Joseph Haydn. By the time of Mozart's second visit to Paris in 1777 at age 21, his own original genius was emerging.

But that trip to Paris was also a disaster. His mother died there, he failed to find a position, he had no money, and his domineering father was interfering with his life to a degree he now found intolerable.

Settling in Vienna: A Soaring Genius

In 1781, Mozart settled in Vienna, an exciting place to live and work for artists at the time, thanks to the reforms of Emperor Joseph II. He married Constanze Weber against the wishes of his father; Leopold withheld Mozart's wedding dowry and later disinherited his son.

Mozart's genius soared. He reached the peak of his career in Vienna in 1782–1786. At this point, his piano concerti were his main source of income. Then, beginning in 1786, he collaborated with the great librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte on three of the repertoire's finest operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte.

By the late 1780s, however, Mozart's popularity in Vienna was on the wane. His music had always had its critics—those who thought it too difficult, complex, or contrived.

"Mozart never attempted to compromise his musical integrity just to please the masses," notes Professor Greenberg. "Even his so-called 'entertainment' music is stamped with his inimitable and complex genius."

His politically controversial opera, The Marriage of Figaro, did not help further his career in Vienna. Masterpiece though it is, it deeply offended the Viennese aristocracy.

"Mozart was, in essence, biting the hand that fed him," says Professor Greenberg.

Mozart continued to pour out one masterwork after another, the expressive content rarely hinting at his unhappy circumstances.

The Final Years: The Magic Flute and a Requiem Mass

In 1790 Mozart's health began to deteriorate and he became depressed. That year, he wrote very little of significance. His creative recovery in early 1791 was inexplicable. The compositions of that year culminated in the great Masonic opera, The Magic Flute.

By the end of the year, he was working on a Requiem Mass, anonymously commissioned by a nobleman who liked to pass off others' compositions as his own. The Requiem remained unfinished at Mozart's death on December 5, 1791.

Myths and speculation surround the cause of Mozart's death. The most famous myth is that he was poisoned by the Italian composer Antonio Salieri who, while a patient in an insane asylum decades later, claimed that he had done the dastardly deed. The most likely theory is that Mozart died from acute rheumatic fever and a stroke brought on by excessive bloodletting—at the age of 35.

A Wide Selection of Excerpts from The Great Masters

Mozart wrote more than 600 compositions, whose standard numbering comes from the catalogue listing first published in 1862 by Ludwig von Köchel.

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

Eine kleine Nachtmusick, K. 525 (1787)
Don Giovanni, K. 527 (1787)
Piano Concerto no. 21 in C Major, K. 467 (1785)
String Quartet in C, K. 465 (Dissonant ) (1785)
The Magic Flute, K. 620 (1791)
Serenade in D Major, K. 320 (Posthorn) (1779)
Così fan tutte, K. 588 (1789)
Flute Concerto in D, K. 314/320d (1777)
Piano Concerto no. 18 in B-flat, K. 456 (1785)
Ein Musikalischer Spass, K. 522 (1787)
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra, K. 364/320d (1779)
The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492 (1786)
String Quintet in C Major, K. 515 (1787)
Symphony no. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 (1788)
Symphony no. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543 (1788)
Symphony no. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter ) (1788)
Requiem Mass, K. 626 (1791)

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8 lectures
 |  Average 46 minutes each
  • 1
    Introduction
    Much of today's Mozart scholarship is about debunking myths; this lecture explores Mozart mythology. The goal of these lectures is to show Mozart to be a person: a talented, hard-working, ambitious man who had friends and enemies and whose music was subject to criticism in his own day. x
  • 2
    Leopold and the Grand Tour
    Leopold Mozart dominated his son's life from the start. When Leopold realized that his children, Marianne and Wolfgang, possessed prodigious musical talent, he made them his source of wealth and fame. Their grand tour of 1763–66 made them the sensation of Europe and turned Wolfgang into the child wonder by which we still measure prodigies today. The small, fragile, and desperate-to-please Wolfgang became his family's main breadwinner. x
  • 3
    Mozart the Composer—The Early Music
    Leopold probably had a hand in creating Mozart's early pieces, but Mozart also learned his craft from Johann Christian Bach, whom Mozart met in London in 1764–65. Mozart also modeled his early works on established Viennese symphonists, and he absorbed the Italian style on his tours of that country in 1769–73. By the time of his second visit to Paris in 1777, Mozart's own compositional voice had emerged. x
  • 4
    Paris
    The study of Mozart's musical style is often linked with two myths; neither one is true. The first is that Mozart was a vessel for divine inspiration. The second is that he composed without effort, automatically, subconsciously. What makes him different is that he began his apprenticeship at an incredibly young age and was a fully matured composer by the time he was 20. In 1777, Mozart left Salzburg for Paris—a disastrous trip during which his mother died. x
  • 5
    The Flight from Salzburg and Arrival in Vienna
    Despite the disasters that Mozart endured at the time of his trip to Paris, his creative energy never flagged. Longing to compose an opera, Mozart succeeded in convincing the Elector of Munich to commission the opera Idomeneo from him. The opera was premiered in Munich in 1781 to great success. Mozart married Constanze Weber in August 1782, against his father's wishes. The father-son relationship would be severely strained until Leopold's death five years later. x
  • 6
    Life in Vienna
    Between 1782 and 1786, Mozart reached the peak of his career as a pianist and composer in Vienna. Among his supreme achievements are his piano concerti, string quartets, and the C Minor Mass. His six string quartets, inspired by and dedicated to Haydn, exhibit an expressive range and intensity. Mozart worked extremely hard and earned a great deal of money. His speed of composing and ability to compose in his head are the stuff of legend. But his embittered father disinherited him before dying in 1787. x
  • 7
    Operas in Vienna
    Poet and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte collaborated with Mozart on his great operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. Mozart's popularity in Vienna began to wane in the late 1780s and he experienced financial hardship; his marriage was strained because of Mozart's real and perceived affairs. Yet he continued to write a series of masterworks, the expressive moods of which seldom, if ever, betrayed his unhappy circumstances. x
  • 8
    The Last Years
    Mozart's Cosi fan tutte of 1789 was no more successful in Vienna than Don Giovanni had been. By late 1790, Mozart was in financial straits and his health deteriorated further. He wrote little of significance until January 1791: The Magic Flute. He began a Requiem Mass, which remained unfinished at his death on December 5. Among the most famous myths about Mozart's death is that he was poisoned by the Italian composer Antonio Salieri. The most likely theory is that he died from rheumatic fever. Mozart gave us a "picture of a better world" (Franz Schubert), and was, as the composer Rossini put it, "the only composer who had as much knowledge as genius and as much genius as knowledge." 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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Reviews

Great Masters: Mozart-His Life and Music is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 87.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoughtful, helpful introduction This is one of the first of the Great Masters series we have listened to, and when we finished this (and the Haydn lecture) we bought five more from the series. We found "Mozart" an excellent use of our time (although you must be realistic about what you can expect from a few lectures on a multi-faceted genius like this composer). Professor Greenberg takes delight in showing us much of what we "know" about Mozart is conjectural (we have few solid facts about his life or death and very little of his current public image is based on sound information). Prof Greenberg shows not all is lost, though, and through the use of our reasoning and common sense, we can establish a more realistic picture of Mozart. For example, my respect for his character was enhanced by knowing that Mozart composed some of his most beautiful and uplifting works when was most stressed by financial and personal ruin, and racked by severe and chronic pain from illnesses ranging from digestive ailments to chronic tooth abscesses. Prof Greenberg gives his typically solid selection of works to illustrate his main points, continues his tradition of illustrating those points with interest and enthusiasm, and concludes with a well-reasoned and intriguing theory of what really did Mozart in, My wife and I enjoyed this course, were sorry it ended, and plan to loan it to several of our musical friends (then we can listen to it again).
Date published: 2012-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fascinating As a "non" music person, Professor Greenberg makes Mozart and his life come alive -- I almost feel him sitting next to me while I am driving (Mozart and Professor Greenberg) Professor Greenberg helps me understated the music, the person, the historical context -- every lecture, creates a "drive way" moment (or hope for a traffic jam)
Date published: 2012-09-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mozart in 3 dimensions The 'Life and Music' titles are all fairly short (about 6 hours total), which is just enough time to give a biographical sketch with a few musical examples. There's no time for music theory or detailed analysis of compositions. Mozart's surviving output fills 180 CDs in the Philips edition, so one really does feel that the music examples, though well-chosen, barely scratch the surface. Happily, there are more Teaching Company/Greenberg courses to dig deeper into Mozart's catalogue: besides the whole courses on Mozart's Chamber Works (16 lectures) and Operas (24 lectures), Wolfgang gets 2 lectures each in the Concertos and 30 Greatest Orchestral Works courses, 1 in the Symphonies course, 4 in the Concert Masterworks course and 4 in How to Listen to and Understand Opera. Where the course excels is in vanquishing many of the popular myths that have surrounded Mozart in the media and presenting him as a real human being.
Date published: 2012-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Overview Mozart was a prolific composer. His life and music are difficult to completely capture in a short eight lecture course. Any selection of music attempting to represent the life of Mozart will be, by necessity, incomplete and only a sample of the vast store available. Concertos, symphonies, chamber music, operas, and more – what and how much do you choose and where do you focus? Mozart’s life also was vast and complex. This course offers an introduction to the composer and his music, but only an introduction. Expectations that this course will provide more than an overview will be disappointed. Professor Greenberg is a very effective teacher. He knows his topic well and has an engaging style, always maintaining interest for the listener. After listening to this biographic overview of Mozart one may be tempted to pursue further study of his life. A detailed biography such as Mozart: A Life by Maynard Solomon may be helpful. I certainly will listen to his music with more care and study after completing this course with Professor Greenberg.
Date published: 2012-04-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Greenburg's best With Greenberg, your getting incisive analysis and concepts presented clearly. The enthusiasm is great too. The musical choices are good but they are often weirdly slow. You also get Greenberg's sometimes teeth-gritting corniness and hyperbole. For example, we do not need to know Mozart was a screaming genius. In most courses by Greenberg, the combination works. You grit your teeth and get on with it. The Bach Lectures I enjoyed very much. Some how the shortened format is not good for Greenberg. There is much more depth in the Bach lectures. He's much better when he has time to go over his point. His digressions are appropriate and cast light on the subject. He knows of what he speaks. So it is useful to give him time. When he has less time to cover things, the theory and musical examples suffer.
Date published: 2012-02-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from There are better sources I'm generally a fan of Robert Greenberg and his courses but too often he states things as facts that are actually ambiguous. IE. He presents as fact that Tchaikovsky committed suicide, completely ignoring all the evidence and conclusions presented by Alexander Poznansky and others. In his Mozart biography he assures us that Mozart had extracurricular liaisons - which had Constanze "furious over her husband's affairs." There is no credible evidence whatsoever that this was the case, and I feel a little furious myself when Mozart is slandered in this way. For a more balanced and accurate account of Mozart's love life I would recommend Robert W. Gutman's very detailed book. As far as short biographies go, I have to say I prefer Jeremy Siepmann's - Mozart - His Life and Music for Naxos publishing. Siepmann includes more analysis of the music, more extensive quotes from the letters Mozart wrote ( crucial to any insight into his psyche), and details that Greenberg leaves out because Greenberg spends too much time on unimportant things. I really don't think it was necessary to have an entire lecture on the mythologizing of Mozart. That time could have been spent going into more details on the Grand Tour or what Mozart learned in Mannheim, his compositions in Paris, etc. I feel this lecture misses the mark overall and I would never use Greenberg as my only source of musical information. It's crucial for any serious scholar to check other sources as well.
Date published: 2012-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Demystified. Last September my wife was singing the Mozart Requiem for a memorial concert on Sept. 11 in Honolulu, Hawaii. we were inspired to rent the movie Amadeus again We enjoyed the biography and heard the requiem performed in part. Seeing the movie again inspired a whole series of questions about Mozart including: 1. What was Mozart really like; did the movie accurately portray him? 2. How did he compose. 3. What did his fellow Vienese think of him? 4. Did Antionio Solieri really kill Mozart? and many more questions. I felt that the answer to all these questions would be answered in the Great Masters: Mozart—His Life and Music by Robert Greenberg. I wasn’t disappointed by Greenberg’s course. It was fast paced, richly research, capably delivered. Robert told great stories, had marvelous quotes from Mozart’s letters and other people. He selected an hour’s worth of Mozart’s best music to be played in the 6 hour course. The course did answer my questions and supplied much more information about Mozart’s life. I was always eager to get on to the next CD, the biography was so captivating. Of course after hearing the course it raised new questions about Mozart such as: 1. Would Amadeus have living longer if he led a more balanced life? That is if he had partied less and paid more attention to the needs of his wife. 2. Would he have found greater financial success if he had the interests of his clients more in mind when he wrote his music? 3. What would Mozart’s life be like if he had more of spiritual basis? He loved being with his friends at night and he loved womanizing. Robert Greenberg did supply a list of references that we can continue our study and speculation of Wolfgang’s life.. I would heartily recommend this course to anyone. Professor Greenberg is a very effective lecturer. He abounds with energy and vitality and tells the best of stories.
Date published: 2011-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and entertaining As with all the best college professors I've had, Greenberg packs lots of information into lectures that are entertaining and that convey his enthusiasm for the subject. He mixes irreverent humor and admiration for Mozart in a way that underscores his basic theme that Mozart was both a man and an incredible genius. For those reviewers who do not like Greenberg's sense of humor, fair enough -- it's a matter of taste. But for those who want him to be more "serious," then read a book on Mozart (Greenberg quotes from many excellent books that you could choose from). Some TC lecturers are repetitive, and with some you miss information because the dry delivery has caused your mind to wander. You can't say either of those things about Greenberg.
Date published: 2011-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worthwhile despite stylistic drawbacks It took me a few lectures to warm up to this course, but by the end I was impressed with how holistic an overview of Mozart's life and work were contained in the six hours. Like many reviewers, I'm ambivalent toward Professor Greenberg's style - I appreciate his enthusiasm, but his jokes and tone get annoying fast. He's also not entirely logical and consistent, e.g. at times reading Mozart's mental state into his compositions, and at others asserting that can't be done. Style aside, though, his knowledge is tremendous - he knows Mozart's music inside and out, and I was particularly impressed by his thorough use of primary sources (especially letters written by Mozart) to tell a story and substantiate his point of view. Overall the stylistic drawbacks are bearable and the course is worth the time and money invested.
Date published: 2011-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This is based on the downloaded version. I listened to all Greenberg’s Great Masters. Each contains 8 lectures, which cover a lot of biographical information while at the same time providing quite a few samples of the composer’s works. Each one is excellent and enjoyable. Professor Greenberg is unique. You either love him or hate him. I loved him, despite the fact that some of his jokes were silly and not very funny. But it’s the thought that counts and he has the energy that’s contagious. Plus many of his jokes were actually funny. Prof. Greenberg is obviously very familiar with the material. He has nice voice, pleasant delivery and is just fun to listen to. But while you are enjoying yourself listening to the professor, you unexpectedly end up learning a lot of material. You will learn about Mozart’s childhood, his amazing accomplishments even at a young age, his talent as a composer and a performer, his absolute genius when it came to site reading (playing a piece of unfamiliar music from notes as if he knew it for years) and improvising. You get to appreciate just how much he has accomplished in his short life, which was often the life of suffering and hardship. You get a psychological analysis and some speculations on what caused Mozart’s death. I enjoyed this course very much. As with all Greenberg’s courses, I was sorry when it was over. I think the professor could have easily filled 8 more lectures with great music and interesting information. Highly recommended. I would also recommend another course called Operas of Mozart. A truly delightful course that gave me lots of pleasure, not only from the course itself but also from listening to the operas discussed in it.
Date published: 2011-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An experience that rivals "Amadeus" DVD review. I am an unsophisticated listener who values music, classical or otherwise, primarily for the mood it creates, moods that can be as fresh and powerful as those I took for granted as a child. So the technicalities of music theory interest me very little; no more so than the exact blend of ingredients used by Monet when creating his colors. It is the total effect that moves me, not the hidden decisions behind it all. This short course on Mozart is an introduction to a life's work by means of biography. Music form is ignored for a moment to better portray a man who remained a child in his abusive father, and a glorified servant in the eyes of his aristocratic patrons. Dr. Greenberg communicates this without seeming effort and notes. He really is among the best public speakers used by TTC. It all builds up to the final question: Why did Mozart die so young? The answer is very different than that in Amadeus, but it sums up quite well the physical and psychological stresses artists lived under at the end of the 18th Century. I still value his music primarily for the undiluted joy it communicates to me. With this course, however, I am more conscious of his true strengths. He is the master of short-lasting moments of bliss, not because he tries to portray God or nature or some social movement, but because his music communicates humanity directly and simply like sunlight through leaves.
Date published: 2011-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mozart revealed The enthusiasm and intensity of this series was refreshing and entertaining. Professor Greenberg obviously holds Mozart and his works in high esteem. His deep interest helps make this series eminently enjoyable. I find the Professors' style a bit too much like a carnival huckster than a teacher and his gestures and jokes can be somewhat distracting. I would also have liked to see the names of the performers for the samples of music. Apart from these minor criticisms this is a wonderful lecture series.
Date published: 2011-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy listening This review is based on the Audio CD Version. Having watched and enjoyed Professor Greenberg's How to Listen To and Understand Great Music, this was a refreshing isolated look at the life and music of Mozart. Greenberg's style is here in all its glory, with perhaps even less restraint. This may rub some people the wrong way, but it suited me just fine. This was perfect for commuting as there were few difficult subjects to digest. Rather, it was a casual, yet thorough, look at Herr Mozart's life. I would have preferred more musical samples, but the scope of the course would not permit it. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2010-10-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Content - Goofy Professor The content is excellent but I found the professor's teaching style to be very distracting. I would have preferred a more serious approach to the subject matter with fewer, frankly, silly jokes. He spent too much time debunking the myths and too little time discussing the facts and the music. Overall though, I enjoyed the course.
Date published: 2010-08-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining and Informative The course offers an excellent mix of music and lecture. Prof Greenberg does a good job of being both informative and entertaining, although he is often overly flippant. My one serious complaint about the course is that I don't already have a solid understanding of music, and a lot of the discussion went over my head. I think a course like TTC's How to Listen to and Understand Great Music before this one would have greatly aided my enjoyment. (Greenberg's Haydn's course does a much better job of explaining things.)
Date published: 2010-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mozart the wunderkind, Mozart the human being This course was very entertaining. It was the first biographical TTC course to which I have listened. I will start with the only criticism that I have. The course felt like it was roughly 90% biography and only about 10% musical selections. I would have preferred a ratio more akin to 75-25, but perhaps other listeners would not. I completed How to Listen to and Understand Great Music as well, and from what I remember, there is little redundancy between the courses with their Mozart coverage. Professor Greenberg is even more entertaining here than he was in How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. His passion for great music in general and Mozart in particular is electrifying. The course generally follows a chronological outline of Mozart's life. You follow Mozart from his earliest musical influences, his turbulent relationship with his father, his celebration as a child prodigy, and his ascent to stardom. I particularly enjoyed hearing selections from the 5 year old Mozart, one of his father's composition, and the ironic last composition that Mozart worked on before his death. The personal anecdotes and details provide a vivid picture of Mozart's personality, his motivations and influences, his virtues, and his flaws. You feel as if you are getting a priviliged peek inside the life of a genius of the highest order. A particularly strength of the course is that it manages to convey Mozart's great genius and talent without glossing over his very human foibles. It neither deifies nor vilifies Mozart but paints a subtle character study of Mozart the genius and Mozart the human being without resorting to caricature. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and look forward to other courses in the Great Masters series.
Date published: 2010-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from surprisingly good for so few lectures I was initially afraid that Mozart's incredibly rich creative output may not be given justice in a span of only 8 lectures. I'm glad I was proven wrong. Greenberg touches upon most of the important aspects of his biography, provides key music examples and enough family and historical background. He even has time to quote plenty of letters, contemporary accounts, and music critics. Clearly a well-planned course. Even longtime fans will find something new. For an in-depth examination of Mozart's Operas, turn to "How to Listen to and Understand Opera", and "Operas of Mozart" - their current editions do not overlap.
Date published: 2010-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well-Done Biographical Sketch As usual, Robert Greenberg has put together a thoroughly fascinating series of lectures on the life of Mozart. I've never read a biography of Mozart, so I came hoping to learn something more reliable than the portrait given in Amadeus. That wish was satisfied. The popular view of Mozart's character is that of a perpetual man-child blazing, manipulating, and sometimes blundering his way through life in 18th century Europe. As Greenberg explains, that picture is true -- except the "man-child" part describes the elder Mozart, Leopold, not Wolfgang. Wolfgang emerges as a remarkably healthy and functional man. Besides being an amazing composer and performer, he was an astute businessman. Especially in light of the dysfunctionality he grew up with, exploited and used by his own immature father, Mozart's development speaks highly of his own character and courage. Greenberg makes a convincing case. Those who've heard other series by Greenberg will not need this paragraph, but just in case you are new to his teaching: Robert Greenberg is passionate, fascinating, and funny -- sometimes simply corny. But always enjoyable. If you're interested in Mozart, you'll enjoy this series.
Date published: 2010-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mozart with Quirkiness Robert Greenburg continues his journey through the life stories, personalities, heights and depths of the worlds greatest composers and here he settles on Wolfgang Mozart. The presentation is, as with all of Greenburgs lectures, full of insight and such wonderful music, but also peppered with his awful humour and flippant remarks. These are actually worse in this set of lecture, probably because he has so much to cover in such a small amount of time. Greenburg is good, he has taught me a lot of great insights into these composers. However because of his quirky irritating remarks, I can not listen to two of his courses consecutively.
Date published: 2010-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from MOZART LIVES! AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT! Professor Robert Greenberg is God's gift to music. I say that in all sincerity. I wish he had been an instructor in the college I attended, but so what: THIS IS EVEN BETTER. I've got him on DVD and can watch it again and again (etc.). I have always liked Mozart's music. After this course, I've found a new love (and yet something else to spend my $$$ on -- Mozart CD's). The course is concise but still inclusive. Nothing important is skipped. Professor Greenberg's wonderful personality is stamped all over the program and that alone would makes it MORE THAN WORTH THE PRICE.
Date published: 2009-07-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining and Enriching Course Great Masters: Mozart - His Life and Music Taught by Robert Greenberg 8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the only musician who had as much knowledge as genius, and as much genius as knowledge" Gioachino Antonio Rossini In this lecture series, Dr. Greenberg examines the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Certainly one of the most creative and influencial composers of all time, there is almost as much interrest in his personal life as his music. Dr. Greenberg notes that a great deal of mystery remains due to the fact that very few reliable accounts of his life were written during his lifetime. After this course, one will have a clearer understanding and appreciation of the composer that left such a rich legacy of music. In these eight lectures, the viewer will visit some remarkable music from Mozart's Concertos, Symphonies,Chamber Works and Opera. 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 "Mozart—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: 2009-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I wish there were more! I wish the lecture was definitely longer! Professor Greenberg is an excellent, knowlegeable, and in all ways, engaging speaker. His courses are insightful, comprehensive and clear. Guarantee: You will NOT be drumming your fingers with this professor!
Date published: 2009-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What fun! This turned out to be a great experience for the entire family - including Grandma and my two young sons (11 and 9). We listened in the car, talked and laughed - more importantly we all know Mozart a bit more. Professor Greenburg made it all simple enough for me as I have the musical skills of a rock. I know I missed the finer points when listening to the music (melodic and harmonics ??), but I sure did enjoy it. The lecture was a perfect blend of history and sampling of music. Greenburg brings an incredible amount of energy to his lectures and kept us all hooked. We all are now looking for other lectures by Greenburg.
Date published: 2009-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mozart the Man In just 6 hrs (8 x 45 mins) Prof. Greenberg gives us a convincing picture of Mozart the child prodigy, the composer of genius and the man. He blows away the myths surrounding Wolfgang Gottlieb ("Amadeus" was a later affectation we are told) and covers the best of the music - all too briefly in the time available - against the chronological background of Mozart's life and his turbulent relationships with his family. Having just finished listening to the lectures for the second time (a wonderful source of entertainment) on a long transatlantic flight, I cannot wait to start on Greenberg's various courses on opera - in particular his long course on the Mozart operas. Bravo Professore!
Date published: 2009-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fine biography I have to admit at the outset that this was my very first introduction to Western music. So I am writing this review as a complete layperson, not as someone trained in music. I listened to the audio version of the course. Unlike the other audio courses I listened to from philosophy, religion and science, this was a course I could listen to even while driving. It was not heavy in technical content (like say the course on Philosophy of Science) and so it did not demand my total concentration in order to appreciate it. Prof. Greenberg is the most enthusiastic professor I have listened to so far from the Teaching Company repertoire. It is not just what he says but how he says it that maintains your interest. The lectures provided a good balance between descriptions of events, people and places in Mozart's life and an actual listening to the wide variety of music he composed, and the professor often pointed out the relationship between the two. It was clear that Prof. Greenberg thinks very highly of Mozart and yet he was always quick to demolish myths that have developed about Mozart, elevating him to a superhuman status. Actually, studying Mozart as a human being with the same weaknesses and desires that humans in general have leads to a greater appreciation for the excellent music that he composed, in contrast to deifying him and making all his compositions seem effortless (as if he did not have to work hard to compose them). The quotes from the letters exchanged between Mozart and the other people in his life gave a nice personal insight into what the characters involved in the Mozart story themselves had to directly say. All in all, this was a great musical biography presented by someone whose enthusiastic voice will keep you hooked, while not distracting you in case you also multitask your listening with driving. The course guidebook provided excellent summaries of each lecture.
Date published: 2009-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Beautiful Telling of a Short but Brilliant Life So you think you know all about Mozart because you watched "Amadeus?" Professor Greenberg gives you detailed information about Mozart, exploring his relationships with his mother, his wife and, of course, his father. You will discover how Mozart broke the chains of servitude that defined the social status of musicians in the 18th century. Professor Greenberg addresses the falsehoods perpetuated by the film and play countering the representation of Mozart as a social idiot. You learn of Mozart's genius beyond music - his sharp wit - his devotion to friends. You will learn what brought about Mozart's early death and fully appreciate what was lost. Consider that the piano was in its infancy when Mozart wrote his piano sonatas and concerti. What would he have done had he lived another thirty years and enjoyed the instrument that inspired Beethoven's work? Greenberg gushes that no composer that has ever lived measures up to Mozart. Although I still have some reservations about that contention, after listening to these lectures I have to admit that Greenberg makes a compelling case. At the end of these lectures you will not only feel that you heard a marvelous tale and fall in love with Mozart, you will want to explore more about him and his music on your own.
Date published: 2009-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best musical biographies This is one of Greenberg's best biography courses. He does like to hear himself talk and his humor is sometimes inappropriate. But this course is excellent for debunking Mozart myths, making Mozart more human, and of course explaining his music.
Date published: 2009-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Hit Greenberg delivers another home run. Thorough biography, witty and engaging teaching style, conveys a true love for the subject and gets you to join in the enthusiasm. The teacher I wish I had in high scholl or college.
Date published: 2009-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from First child superstar? In addition to being a terrific presentation of Mozart and his musical genius (as other reviewers have already covered), this course is an interesting case study of human nature. Mozart was one of the first child superstars and a prototype of child movie stars today. It is interesting to follow the impact of this on the rest of his life.
Date published: 2009-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Real Lover of Mozart Nothing helps inspire a listener like a speaker who is inspired. Prof. Greenberg loves Mozart and that love is embodied in every word of his Mozart lectures. Buy them all: Chamber, Operas, Great Masters. Prof. Greenberg provides years of repeated listening pleasure.
Date published: 2009-01-11
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