Great Masters: Stravinsky-His Life and Music

Course No. 754
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 754
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Course Overview

When it comes to creative longevity, brilliance across a range of styles, and near-universal fame, Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) is nearly unrivaled among 20th-century artists. As told by Professor Robert Greenberg, Stravinsky's career is a dizzying, enthralling progression across the miles and the decades from fin de siècle Czarist Russia to Southern California in the 1960s.

It features styles ranging from nationalism and Impressionism to Fauvism, neoclassicism, and the 12-tone ultra-serialism of Anton Webern and Alban Berg.

Professor Greenberg presents this long-lived master of musical creativity as a one-man compendium of people, places, compositional styles, and techniques, his life and music a virtual artistic history of the West from the 1890s to the late 1960s.

Even a partial list of Stravinsky's friends and collaborators reads like a "who's who" of 20th-century Western culture: Picasso, Rimsky-Korsakov, Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Balanchine, Puccini, Satie, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Jean Cocteau, Dylan Thomas, Nicholas Nabokov, Paul Klee, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden, Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot, Walt Disney, Edward G. Robinson, Charlie Chaplin, Woody Herman, even Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Among other things, then, these lectures on Stravinsky will give you a sense of the kaleidoscopic changes in musical expression that took place during the first 70 years of the 20th century.

From Nationalism to Modernism and Beyond

Stravinsky began as a 19th-century musical nationalist. He was privileged to receive the benefits of an upper-middle-class Russian upbringing in St. Petersburg, where he was born in 1882.

In this city at the turn of the 20th century, the young and impressionable Stravinsky was exposed to an amazing, kaleidoscopic interweaving of Western and Eastern European cultures.

His was a musical family. His father, Fyodor, was a professional opera singer, considered one of the great bass-baritones of his day.

By his late teens, Stravinsky's interest in music had developed into an ambition to become a composer, despite the fact that he had not, to that point of his life, demonstrated any exceptional musical talent.

Certainly, his potential was not recognized by the eminent Russian composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, when Stravinsky approached him for lessons in 1902.

Rimsky-Korsakov's opinion changed dramatically, however, when he heard Stravinsky's Piano Sonata in F-sharp Minor of 1904. The work gained Stravinsky a powerful ally and influential teacher in that great Russian master.

Between 1904 and 1909, Stravinsky developed his compositional technique and style, absorbing a diversity of musical influences.

During this period, Stravinsky married his cousin Katya, who would prove an invaluable support to her husband during these musically formative and professionally difficult years.

The Rite—and Riot—of Spring

Stravinsky's audiences enjoyed his highly successful music for The Firebird and his next ballet, Petrushka, but they could not have anticipated what would come next.

Stravinsky's music for The Rite of Spring was like nothing he or any other composer had written before it. To convey the sense of the ballet's primitive, earthy, and sexual theme, Stravinsky had to forge a new musical language.

The resultant ballet score caused one of the most celebrated scandals in music history. At The Rite's Paris premiere on May 29, 1913, the audience broke into a riot.

"This music still sounds 'modern' almost a century after its first performance," states Professor Greenberg.

You learn why the Rite is one of the 20th century's two most important musical compositions.

After 1918: Seeking Humane Times

Appalled by the horrors of World War I, Stravinsky, after 1918, couched his modernistic impulses in the musical styles of seemingly simpler, "more humane" times.

From the 1920s on, he was drawn as well by the energy of ragtime, tango, and big-band jazz, writing pieces in all these popular idioms. In 1925 he made a highly successful tour of several U.S. cities, conducting his own works.

Through the end of the 1920s, Stravinsky continued to produce music that filtered its modernisms through the lens of the musical past, such as the ballet Apollo Musagète of 1928 and The Symphony of Psalms of 1930. Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Symphony of Psalms is a deeply religious work, of the sort that Stravinsky had never written before.

The works of the 1930s exhibited a neoclassical, or neotonal, style. These works included the Concerto in D for Violin and the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, among others.

Soon his music was being attacked as "degenerate art" by the Nazis in Germany, and he suffered the multiple tragedies of the deaths of his daughter, Lyudmilla; his wife, Katya; and his mother.

When World War II broke out in September 1939, Stravinsky and soon-to-be second wife, Vera Sudeykin, settled in Los Angeles, where Stravinsky immediately became one of the city's most sought-after celebrities. His first major work composed in the United States was his 1945 War Symphony, the Symphony in Three Movements. This was the year the Stravinskys became American citizens.

Among other works Stravinsky wrote between 1945 and 1953 was the Ebony Concerto, written for Woody Herman's band. This work "objectifies" elements of jazz in the way that Ragtime for 11 Wind Instruments had 20 years before.

These years were perhaps the best of Stravinsky's life: He was happy and flourishing in his private and professional lives; financial hardship was a thing of the past.

In 1948, Stravinsky befriended Robert Craft, a young conductor with a fanatical admiration for the older composer. They formed a highly unusual relationship in which Craft wrote diaries of his life as Stravinsky's aide and friend. Craft introduced Stravinsky to the 12-tone music of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern.

A "Supreme Original"

Finally and most astonishingly, at the age of 70, Stravinsky underwent yet another aesthetic metamorphosis, reinventing himself musically with pieces in the ultramodern serialist style associated with composers one-third his age.

Like Haydn and Beethoven in their later works, Stravinsky in his Agon of 1957, Requiem Canticles of 1966, and other late pieces, attained a level of spirituality, clarity—and novelty—that would be stunning in a composer of any age, at any time.

After the Stravinskys and Robert Craft returned from a landmark visit to Russia in 1962, Stravinsky's output began to slow. By the late 1960s, Stravinsky was enjoying a level of celebrity and wealth rarely accorded a composer in his lifetime. His last public appearance was in 1967 and he died in 1971.

"Stravinsky, without a doubt, was a supreme original," says Professor Greenberg. "We study him to see what, aside from the unaccountable gift of genius, made this originality possible. What are the artistic constants that run throughout his long career, gathering all its shifting currents into the main stream of greatness?

"Diversity, synthesis, and reconciliation are the keys to Stravinsky's musical personality."

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

The Firebird (1909)
Petrushka (1911)
The Rite of Spring (1912)
Ragtime for 11 Instruments (1918)
Pulcinella (1919)
Les Noces [The Wedding] (1923)
Symphony of Psalms (1930)
Concerto in D for Violin (1931)
Dumbarton Oaks Concerto (1938)
Symphony in C (1940)
Symphony in Three Movements (1945)
The Ebony Concerto (1953)
Agon (1957)
Requiem Canticles (1966)

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8 lectures
 |  Average 46 minutes each
  • 1
    Introduction and There’s No Place Like Home
    Igor Stravinsky was raised in a St. Petersburg that was an amazing mix of Western and Eastern Europe, a blend that is a key to understanding Stravinsky's musical development. His father, Fyodor, was one of the great Russian operatic bass-baritones of his time. Accepted into law school, he continued music lessons and was steadfast in his ambition to become a composer. x
  • 2
    From Student to Professional
    Rimsky-Korsakov was so impressed with Stravinsky's Piano Sonata in F-sharp Minor (1904) he agreed to take Stravinsky as a private student. In 1909, Stravinsky met the impresario Serge Diaghilev, who commissioned Stravinsky to write a ballet on the folk tale The Firebird, which was followed by the ballet Petrushka, a great success. Stravinsky's next score, The Rite of Spring, would become arguably the most influential work of its time. x
  • 3
    The Rite of Spring
    The Rite of Spring changed the way we think about rhythm, melodic patterning, compositional technique, and expressive content. When it opened in Paris in 1923 it caused a scandal unparalleled in the history of music. Its lasting modernity is a testament to the fact that it does not sound like any work that preceded it, nor any that followed it. x
  • 4
    The War Years (WWI)
    The war years enforced an economy of means on the composer; large-scale works were out of the question. Among the creations of these years were the Three Pieces for String Quartet (1914), Renard (Fox) for four voices and small orchestra (1916), Ragtime for 11 Instruments (1918), and L'Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale) (1918). Les Noces (The Wedding), finished in 1923, is a great masterpiece of this period. x
  • 5
    Neoclassicism
    In 1919, Diaghilev proposed a ballet based on music by the Italian baroque composer Pergolesi. Immediately after the war, Diaghilev and Stravinsky, collaborated on a ballet—Pulcinella—based on music by the Italian baroque composer Pergolesi. From 1920 to 1923, Stravinsky composed the Symphonies for Wind Instruments, the opera Mavra, and the four-piano version of The Wedding. x
  • 6
    Maturity
    By the mid-1920s, Stravinsky's musical philosophy embraced the belief that a composition should be governed by purely formal considerations. In 1930 he wrote The Symphony of Psalms, a deeply religious work with elements similar to, and an austerity totally different from, The Rite of Spring. x
  • 7
    A Citizen of the World
    With the outbreak of World War II, Stravinsky and his wife settled in Los Angeles, where he became one of Hollywood's most sought-after celebrities. In 1948, Stravinsky met Robert Craft, who exposed the composer to 12-tone music. Stravinsky, in his early 70s, was about to change his compositional language and enter an entirely new musical world. x
  • 8
    The New Stravinsky
    The parallels between Schoenberg and Stravinsky are many. In the early 1950s, Robert Craft began conducting serial works by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, which captured Stravinsky's interest. In 1962, Stravinsky visited Russia for the first time since 1914. Requiem Canticles (1966), Stravinsky's last major work, is considered the most accessible of his late works. He died April 6, 1971, and was buried in Venice on the island of San Michele. 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: Stravinsky-His Life and Music is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 38.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg always great! As usual, Greenberg's lectures, this time on Igor Stravinsky, are lively, humorous, and informative. His introduction comparing Stravinsky's music to that of Tchaikovsky and Mozart is brilliant. You get the key points, but not overwhelming detail. The excellence of the lecture as well as the interwoven music make for entertaining as well as enlightening audio.
Date published: 2017-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A thoughtful and intriguing overview I have always loved the Firebird, but had not realized what a diversity there was of Stravinky's works. This course taught me the biographical framework of Stravinsky's life, so I could better understand his artistic evolution. Along the way are many short musical excerpts that have introduced me to pieces I want to explore further. I listened to the audio while reading the outline in the book. There is much more information in the audio than in the book. The course is dense with information, and I plan to listen a second time. I don't think the video course would add much.
Date published: 2016-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very comprehensive This course covers the music theory, history, biographical and cultural aspects of Stravinsky's life. While that isn't really going above and beyond what should be expected, it is a thorough examination and well worth the time spent.
Date published: 2015-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Informative & Enjoyable AUDIO: CDs I really enjoy Professor Robert Greenberg’s TC series on the Great Masters: they are great life and works productions that pack solid information and direction for further study and appreciation, along with generous amounts of wit and humor. A specialist might find the courses do not go deep enough, but for me they are just right. So far I have listened to Professor Greenberg’s TC courses on the nineteenth century’s Robert and Clara Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt. With Stravinsky (1882-1969), I enter the twentieth century to learn more of a composer familiar from my youth. Born in Russia, Stravinsky sojourned in Switzerland and Paris (becoming a French citizen in 1934) before settling in the United States in 1939 (becoming a citizen in 1945). According to Professor Greenberg, Stravinsky, despite having no proper musical training, “…composed one of the two most important pieces of twentieth century music, ‘The Rite of Spring’ [1913]. (The other work being Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Pierrot Lunaire’ [1912])” (Course Guidebook, Page 1). Other works rise to the top of many lists, notably ‘The Wedding’, begun in 1914 and completed in 1923, which Professor Greenberg ranks with ‘The Rite of Spring’ as Stravinsky’s two greatest works, to ‘Pulcinella’, 1920, and two of Professor Greenberg’s own favorites, ‘Symphony of Psalms’ (1930; oddly without benefit of violins), which he classes with Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. Matthews Passion and Verdi’s ‘Requiem’, and Stravinsky’s ‘Violin Concerto in D Major’ (1931), which Professor Greenberg ranks with those of Beethoven, Brahms, and, Tchaikovsky. In some ways this course differs from the other three that I have already listened to, in that Stravinsky’s music not only spanned a greater length of time, but also exhibited such dramatic changes over time from the strikingly modern pre-World War I works through a “neoclassical/neotonal” (Page 31) phase in the 1920s through early 1950’s. These were followed by a modernist “serial style” (Page 31), and the “liturgical” works of the late 1950s & 1960s. Professor Greenberg brings home these seemingly dramatic changes in Stravinsky’s music by playing Mozart and Tchaikovsky selections from various points in their lives, to show them distinctly recognizable throughout. This is not so at all in the Stravinsky selections; they seem like the productions of completely different individuals. Yet, by closely analyzing several keys works, Professor Greenberg shows that what to others looked like jarring changes of direction actually incorporated the “compositional techniques” of the ‘Rite of Spring’ as “central to [Stravinsky’s] music for the rest of his long life” (Page 2). The sheer scope and variety of Stravinsky’s works require much from Professor Greenberg. He explains a lot of technical information for our understanding of Stravinsky’s achievements, and does so in an extremely interesting and easy to follow manner. This course includes over sixty selections from musical works, sometimes with voice-overs by Professor Greenberg pointing out important aspects. Professor Greenberg does use musical technical terms, but always gives good explanations and is not above referring to, for example, “a particular chunk of music” (audio lecture 3). The Greenberg humor is there as well, though not so broad and pervasive as in my favorite on Brahms. There is a good deal about Stravinsky’s context and his relations with important others of the period, notably Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who tutored Stravinsky in composition and whose influence extended throughout Stravinsky’s career; Serge Diaghilev, Russian impresario who commissioned some of Stravinsky’s early works; and Arnold Schoenberg, who early mocked “Igor Modernsky” (audio lecture 5) but whose ‘twelve-tone” music (Page 31) captured Stravinsky’s interest and influenced his later works. Unfortunately, this really only touches the surface. Professor Greenberg’s focus on elucidating Stravinsky’s music over such a long period not only results in a seeming forced march through the works, but also a glossing over or even omission of important figures in Stravinsky’s life, prime among them being, as Professor Greenberg admits, George Balanchine, often styled as the father of American ballet. You still get a lot in eight 45 minute lectures! All things considered, Professor Greenberg does a great job in introducing us to Igor Stravinsky. The only reason this course gets a four rather than a five star rating from me regards that “forced march” through Stravinsky’s music in the later lectures.
Date published: 2014-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stravinsky? Being the only musical person in my family, I was on my own to discover music. Along the way I read and heard that Stravinsky was just modern junk. Well, I cannot describe my first hearing of Rite of Spring, The Firebird....what glorious music, and thanks to Prof Greenberg for introducing me to this music. Now, the later chapters are over my head and I dont understand the music, but I feel better off for having listened to this course.
Date published: 2014-02-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Line Drive, Right Up the Middle After a very disappointing Wagner course followed by a stupendous Shostakovitch course, I decided to put Greenberg in the lineup once again. This course started rather pleasantly with solid biographical background and excellent musical analysis of Stravinsky's early life and works. There's the typical Greenberg train wreck at about mid way through. He launches into a sort of "whose on first" dialogue about Stravinsky and another artist discussing a new piece. Again, the jokes. This time we get a full routine smack in the middle of a serious discussion about World War 1 and the Russian Revolution. From there out, we get the usual corny Greenberg humor but not in as strong an application as usual. Perhaps his seemingly endless parody satisfied the frustrated comedian long enough to limp through the remaining lectures without need to ham it up? I did learn from the course and enjoyed it for the most part. I am, however, weary of Greenberg's jokes which detract much from the subject matter. If you want to learn a bit about Stravinsky and get some insight into the technical aspects of his music, buy the course knowing you'll have to endure some bad humor. The Great Courses should consider adding a couple of other music experts to their stable. It would be wonderful to have some variety in this category. While not a home run, the course is a hit that will get you to first base of Stravinsky understanding. It's got some solid content and Greenberg obviously knows his stuff. Scale way back on the sophomoric humor and this would be a much better course.
Date published: 2014-02-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Intro to Stravinsky It's awfully hard to condense Stravinsky's vast career into a concise series of eight half-hour lectures, but Prof. Greenberg manages in style. The listener unfamiliar with Stravinsky will learn in detail about his aesthetic priorities and stylistic development, and the main outlines of his external life. One thing I particularly liked was how Greenberg treated neoclassicism. Greenberg clearly considers Stravinsky's neoclassic works the equal of his "Russian" works, and those listeners who associate Stravinsky only with the Rite of Spring will be enlightened to learn of the full extent of the glorious body of music which Stravinsky produced from the 1920's onward. Of course, many details of Stravinsky's life and many of his compositions have had to be omitted #Greenberg makes a point to at least mention by name almost all of Stravinsky's works, but several of them are presented only in brief excerpts#, but that is only to be expected given the time limitations of the course. It would have been nice to hear at least one full movement, but the listener can check out some Stravinsky CD's on his own. Certainly the course whets one's appetite for Stravinsky's music! As is his custom, Professor Greenberg mixes irreverent humor and colloquialisms in with his lectures while still conveying his enthusiasm, passion, and even awe for his subject.
Date published: 2013-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 20th century music appreciation I listened to the lecture series to understand the celebration of the 100th year anniversay of the performance of "The Rite of Spring." Professor Greenberg does a superb job in providing a historical context to the interesting music of Stravinsky. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures, and appreciated the music (although I can't say I "enjoyed" the later work of the composer). Although I am not a fan of mid and late 20th century classical music, Professor Greenberg provided enough background and context to allow me to appreciate the complexity and revolutionary nature of Stravinsky's compositions. Absolutely recommend this course.
Date published: 2013-06-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Buy the CD not the DVD Buy the CD not the DVD. Outside of watching Professor Greenberg's exuberance, it is a waste of the extra dollars. Be prepared to be depressed as you view the life of this composer. At times, it was difficult to stomach the tragedy of his life. Sometimes, it felt as if Greenberg was more fascinated with his life than with sharing his music.
Date published: 2013-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Different Kind of Music I was never drawn to the music of Stravinsky and wondered why it was considered to be such a big deal by those who are music experts. This course provided the background I needed to understand the music and its context. Hearing some of Stravinsky's pieces on the radio, I often wondered about them and found, in this course, that many of them were meant to be listened to as part of a dance performance. I found Professor Greenberg's lectures highly informative and entertaining in their own right.
Date published: 2012-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from From Russia with Love Professor Greenberg is an enthusiastic guy, but he really pulls out the stops in this pithy introduction to the life and work of Igor Stravinsky. It's clear that he loves Stravinsky's music, and I think that his presentation could break down the resistance of anyone who still thinks of it as "dreadful modern music." Because I have studied music for years, I knew most (but not all) of the pieces mentioned in this course. But I was not familiar with all the details of the composer's life, which the professor weaves creatively throughout his presentation. This course will give you a good overview of the various phases of Stravinsky's musical development, and the influences that helped to create his compositional language.
Date published: 2012-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important 20th century composer His music can be somewhat dissonant and inaccessible on the surface, but as Prof Greenberg shows, there is a reason behind the madness. I find it similar to modern painters such as Picasso who may look like they created a new style, but have actually done their homework and learned from the old masters. Examples here include the Dumbarton Oaks concerto, which draws on Bach Brandenburg concertos, and the Quintet for piano and strings. He lived an interesting life, including an affair with Coco Chanel and a long time living in Los Angeles. He stated that composers shouldn't let outside affairs affect their work, and he didn't let his personal scandals or troubles overpower his compositions. His most famous pieces or ones which receive Prof Greenberg's glowing recommendations include Rite of Spring, Dumbarton Oaks concerto, and Violin concerto in D major, which he puts up there with Beethoven and Tchaikovsky's violin concertos. Many might find Stravinsky's work inaccessible, but after this course they would be better equipped to listen with a welcoming mind.
Date published: 2012-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Greenberg Course Perhaps Prof Greenberg is just growing on me, but this is the 7th course from the Great Master series that I've listened to and I thought this was the best. Perhaps that was because before this course I never really cared for Stravinsky's music and knew nothing about his life. Prof Greenberg does a good job with the biographical details, and the selection of muscial excerpts is much better (both more excerpts and longer excerpts) than in some of the other courses. Also, there's a good deal of explanation of the compositional concepts that Stravinsky used. The introduction comparing early Stravinsky to middle Stravinsky to late Stravinsky draws you in from the very beginning and makes the course quite enjoyable. I learned quite a bit. I'm still not a great fan of Stravinsky's music, but this course at least has helped me understand it and appreciate it. A fine job by Greenberg.
Date published: 2011-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from You've got to love Stravinsky Prof. Greenberg delivers knowledgeable, clever and entertaining lectures as always. His portrayal of the Russian music scene at the end of the 19th century, and the entire lecture on the structure and impact of the Rite of Spring, are excellent. Nevertheless, this was my least favorite course in the Great Masters series (I have them all and have listened to most). The reason is clear: since the man's life was not especially fascinating, the success or failure of the course depends on his music. I was not a big admirer of Stravinsky's music before I took this course, and it did not convert me. There is a lot of discussion of music theory, Stravinsky's distinctive "dry" style and how Stravinsky's music broke with the past and ushered in the 20th Century. There is less about the beauty, emotional impact and accessibility of the works. The reason is clear: Stravinsky has an important historical place in 20th Century music, but he did not compose works that I want to listen to again and again. I am not a foe of modern music--Prof. Greenberg's lectures on Shostakovich were perhaps my favorites of the Great Masters series. But I would recommend this course only to those who already know, and know they enjoy, the music of Stravinsky.
Date published: 2010-05-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Surprisingly disappointing lecturer I had high expectations for this course given the positive reviews of the lecturer and my keen desire to know more about Stravinsky. What I discovered was a lot of airy, fluffy lecturing and a sense that the lecturer was looking for ways to fill the time of each lecture. Clearly this is an intelligent man, but his lectures are ruined by extremely long lists of names ("The list of names could go on for the entire lecture," he says at one point, and I feared that it might!), a melodramatic teaching style, condescending appeals to a high-school level audience, and a disappointingly unreflective reliance on cliches about the childhood of artists. Greenberg runs a one-man show, giving the impression that no one has ever talked about Stravinsky, that no intelligent criticism exists, and that, if it did, his audience would be bored by it. I'm an academic, so I'm keen to the objection that my expectations are too high. But other Teaching Company courses (like those of Elizabeth Vandiver on the classics) manage to present the material without dilluting it or catering to a lowest-common-denominator audience. I returned this course for a refund after trying to enjoy it for five lectures over a few months; each time I returned to it, I was disappointed anew.
Date published: 2010-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREENBERG AT HIS BEST I have a number of Dr. Greenberg's courses and consider this to be his best. He always brings a great deal of enthusiasm and energy to his presentations, and I thought lecture 3 - The Rite of Spring, was not only the best of this set, but one of the best lectures I have seen out of all the TeachCo. selections. Even with some of Dr. Greenberg's courses that I did not rate as highly, he deserves praise for always diligently providing detailed, easy-to-follow outlines, that is true again with the Stravinsky course. Music lovers of any genre with find this course extremely valuable as Greenberg shows how Stravinsky was a force in shaping 20th century music while still keeping one foot planted in prior traditions. The mix of musical samples with commentary and analysis was exceptional. This truly qualifies as a great course.
Date published: 2009-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scintillating Stravinsky was the towering figure of 20th-century classical music, and this is a fine introduction to his work. Because of his use of polytonality and polyrhythm, Stravinsky's music can be difficult to understand or appreciate at first. It sounds too dissonant. But when the elements are teased apart so you learn to hear them separately, and then they are put back together again, suddenly it makes sense. As you listen to these lectures by Greenberg, you will find yourself learning to love Stravinsky's music.
Date published: 2009-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Many Styles of Stravinsky Prof. Greenberg dazzles our ears (or whatever is the equivalent word for aural bewitchment) with the many different styles of Stravinsky's music. The story of Stravinsky's life and music is the story of the development of C20 music. The lecturer is on brilliant form (as usual) and persuades listeners (like me) who find any composer after Richard Strauss and Gustave Mahler something a challenge to listen to Stravinsky works with an open mind and attentive ear. Excellent.
Date published: 2009-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stravinsky ; Insight to a 20th Century Master Great Masters: Stravinsky - His Life and Music Taught by Robert Greenberg 8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture 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 "Stravinsky—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. In this lecture series on Stravinsky, the listener will come to appreciate the composer's versatility and creative longevity which was unique amoung his rivials in 20th century music . His compositional stylism ranged from the nationalism of his early career through Impressionism and Fauvism to his familiar neoclassicism. Examples of works from his later 12-tone or serialist period are also highlighted. Greenberg has selected excellent examples from the music of Stravinsky. His most popular and renouned works, The Firebird, Petruska and The Rite of Spring are examined from the perspective of the pre-war era and events in the composers life. The discussion of Ragtime for 11 instruments was particularly enlightening, as Dr. Greenberg views the piece as the musical equillent to a cubist painting.The Ebony Concerto and the Symphony in C from 1940 are also presented. Examples are heard from Stravinsky's later works following his introduction to Schonberg's 12-tone compositional style after meeting and working with Robert Craft. Pieces from this era include Agon from 1957 and Requiem Canticles from 1966, the later of which was played at the funeral of Robert Oppenheimer 3 months later . Dr.Greenberg has done a great job presenting the life and work of one of the most interresting and original musical composers of the 20th century. Dr. Greenberg is at his best when he focuses on the analysis of the music with examples presented to the listener.
Date published: 2009-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Bridge to 20th Century Music I love the Baroque, the Classical, and the Romantic. I've had more problems with 20th century music. Prof. Greenberg, the best of The Teaching Company lecturers, provides a great case for 20th century music through the life and music of Stravinsky. He provides a solid bridge into the more dissonant and atonal masterworks that Stravinsky pioneered and inspired. A must for every serious student of music.
Date published: 2009-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stravinsky's "Great Masters" is an example of modern music.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is the third series I have had given by Prof. Greenberg- They have all been wonderful learning experience. He is able to wrap the past and the present together in an informative way. I am not a musician but he makes it possible for me to understand m
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Your music courses are outstanding.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Greenberg is an outstanding teacher who makes concert music more enjoyable and understandable.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Professor Greenberg's unbridled enthusiasm about the material makes the course even more enjoyable.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from We recommend you to everyone!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A dream come true. A retired professor still learning.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It has been many years siunce I got my MS degree. Proffessor Robert Greenberg is the standard against which I measure the performance of your other professors!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Over 50 years ago, I wrote my Master's thesis on an aspect of Stavinsky's music. So this course was especially interesting for me
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from keep up the good work! wonderful stuff!
Date published: 2008-10-17
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