The Symphony

Course No. 7210
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 7210
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Course Overview

The great Bohemian-born composer Gustav Mahler once said, "A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything." Over the course of its nearly 300-year life, the symphony has indeed embraced almost every trend to be found in Western concert music.

Humble Beginnings, Unmatched Achievement

The symphony evolved from the 17th-century Italian opera overture and the Baroque ripieno concerto.

By the mid to late 18th century, the symphony became the single most important genre of orchestral music.

In 300 years—with backdrops ranging from the French Revolution to the Soviet Empire, the Enlightenment to the Roaring Twenties—the symphony would arrive at where it stands today: one of the longest lived, and perhaps the most expressively inclusive, genres of instrumental music.

In this series of 24 45-minute lectures, Professor Robert Greenberg guides the listener on a survey of the symphony. You'll listen to selections from the greatest symphonies by many of the greatest composers of the past 300 years. You'll also hear selections from some overlooked works that, undeservedly, have been forgotten by contemporary audiences.

Origins (Lectures 1–2)

The simultaneous development of the orchestra and the opera were crucial to the birth of the symphony as a genre. By the 1730s, the orchestral genre of the Italian-style opera overture had developed to such a point that those overtures were substantial enough to be performed separately from the operas themselves.

The Symphony Emerges (Lectures 3–5)

The earliest true symphonies were exponents of the galant style that emerged in the period between the High Baroque and Viennese Classicism. Chief composers of this period included Sammartini, and two of J. S. Bach's sons, C. P. E. Bach and Johann Christian Bach.

The outstanding Mannheim Court Orchestra paved the way for a great series of symphonists in the 18th century—Stamitz, Richter, Holzbauer, and Cannabich.

By the late 1770s and 1780s, Europe boasted an enormous number of first-rate symphonists, including Gossec, Michael Haydn, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, Vanhal, and Boccherini.

Haydn and Mozart: Titans of the Classical Age (Lectures 6–8)

Franz Joseph Haydn wrote at least 108 symphonies. We examine his Symphony no. 1 in D Major (1759), and later symphonies, no. 77 in particular, revealing Haydn's ongoing development as a symphonist.

Haydn's Symphony no. 104, his last symphony, reflects the consummate technical skill of an experienced master—mastery still melded with the fire and passion of youth.

Unlike Haydn, Mozart never made symphonic composition as much of a priority as opera and the piano concerto. Yet he created some of the most important symphonies of the Classical era, among them his Symphony no. 41 in C Major—the Jupiter Symphony. We explore this symphony, which, in the words of one musicologist, "climaxed and fixed an age."

Beethoven, Romanticism, and the Reconciliation with Classicism (Lectures 9–12)

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the single most famous work in the orchestral repertoire—a tale of musical birth and growth, destruction, regrowth, and ultimately, triumph.

The sublime and iconoclastic Beethoven, in Professor Greenberg's words, "came to believe in self-expression and originality above all else a symphony was no longer an aristocratic amusement, but a multifaceted musical statement, an instrumental genre operatic in its degree of contrast, conflict, and resolution."

We study how Schubert's Unfinished B Minor and Great C Major symphonies demonstrated that the lyric and the colorful could coexist with the Beethoven-inspired vision of the symphony as a vehicle for profound self-expression.

In Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz adopts the extreme emotions and drama of the opera house, and explicit, intimately autobiographical narrative, telling the story of a young, unhappy, and ultimately suicidal lover (Berlioz himself). The piece is bound together by a recurring, representative musical theme—the famous fixed idea.

We learn how the symphonies of Mendelssohn and Schumann merged Classical tradition with elements of Romanticism within very personal and innovative expressive frameworks.

National and Local Development (Lectures 13–22)

France. In the 1860s and 1870s, French composers re-established a tradition of symphonic music in Paris, led by Cesar Franck and Camille Saint-Saens.

Russia. What could Peter Tchaikovsky, a hypersensitive, cross-dressing homosexual with a penchant for pederasty, and Antonin Dvorak, a happily married family man, have in common? Few composers utilized the symphony to explore national identity more than these two extremely different men, drawing on the music of their homelands for inspiration.

Vienna. Anton Bruckner and Johannes Brahms both achieved fame in Vienna—both were inspired by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. But you'll see that is where their similarities end.

Bohemia. Learn how Gustav Mahler's upbringing in a Jewish, German-speaking household in Bohemia intensified his pathological sense of alienation. Mahler's symphonies are, in Greenberg's words, "philosophical tracts, spiritual musings, musical reflections on the great, unanswered questions." We focus on his Symphony no. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection) of 1895.

Scandinavia. The key to Carl Nielsen's music is its directness of expression, inspired by the rustic simplicity of his Danish homeland. Jean Sibelius's Finnish homeland also exerted a strong influence on his creative palette.

Later Russian Development. Nationalism played a crucial role in the 19th-century emergence of a Russian symphonic tradition, with composers such as Glinka, Balakirev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Glazunov.

In the 20th century, the "steel-fisted modernist" Prokofiev never ceased to shock and surprise—even with his First Symphony, which, ironically, pays homage to the Classical style.

America. An all-American kid, Charles Ives became one of the 20th century's greatest symphonists, while refusing to take royalties for his work and choosing to make his living as an insurance executive. His Symphony no. 4, his "crowning achievement," epitomizes Ives's transcendental belief in the "interrelation of all things."

Aaron Copland epitomized the pan-American musical spirit of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, remaining the most representative American composer of the 20th century. Samuel Barber's Symphony no. 1 is a beautifully constructed work of great and enduring power.

Discover Roy Harris, one of the pre-eminent American symphonists. Born in a log cabin, Harris created symphonies marked by a primitive simplicity underlain by great emotional depth and expressive sophistication. William Schuman's Third Symphony heralded a period when American composers became accepted, performed, and appreciated in their own country.

Britain. At the end of the 19th century Britain made significant contributions to the international symphonic repertory. While Elgar's symphonic music was not explicitly nationalistic, Vaughn Williams's symphonies drew heavily from England's folk heritage.

Two Concluding Ovations (Lectures 23–24)

Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony of 1948 is the sole symphony Messiaen produced. It is organized around 10 movements, based on Hindu scripture, and united by a number of themes that reappear from movement to movement. It is a unique contribution to the history of the symphony.

Dmitri Shostakovich was used and abused by the Soviet powers during much of his life. Somehow, he survived. His Tenth Symphony, composed immediately after Stalin's death in 1953, became, in Professor Greenberg's words, "a model for what the new, post-Stalin Soviet music might aspire to be—a more personally expressive, less explicitly programmatic work, one that both engaged and challenged its listeners."

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24 lectures
 |  Average 45 minutes each
  • 1
    Let's Take It From the Top!
    Beginning in the orchestral overtures of opera and the concertos of Baroque Italy, the symphony would emerge as its own genre in the 18th century. x
  • 2
    The Concerto and the Orchestra
    The simultaneous development of the orchestra and the opera were crucial to the birth of the symphony as a genre. By the 1730s, the orchestral genre of the Italian-style opera overture had developed to such a point that those overtures were substantial enough to be performed separately from the operas themselves. x
  • 3
    The Pre-Classical Symphony
    The earliest true symphonies were exponents of the so-called galant style that emerged in the period between the high Baroque and Viennese Classicism. The chief composers of this period included Giovanni Sammartini, and two of J. S. Bach's sons, Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach and Johann Christian Bach. x
  • 4
    Mannheim
    In the unlikely city of Mannheim, Germany, the formation of the outstanding Mannheim Court Orchestra paved the way for a great series of symphonists in the 18th century—Stamitz, Richter, Holzbauer, and Cannabich. x
  • 5
    Classical Masters
    By the late 1770s and 1780s, Europe boasted an enormous number of first-rate symphonists, including Francois-Joseph Gossec, Michael Haydn, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, Johann Baptist Vanhal, and Luigi Boccherini. x
  • 6
    Franz Joseph Haydn, Part 1
    Franz Joseph Haydn wrote at least 108 symphonies. We examine his Symphony no. 1 in D Major (1759), and later symphonies, no. 77 in particular, revealing Haydn's ongoing development as a symphonist. x
  • 7
    Franz Joseph Haydn, Part 2
    Inspired by the Sturm und Drang movement in the early 1770s, Haydn's symphonies begin to reflect experimentation with minor keys, abrupt changes of dynamics, and a greater degree of thematic contrast. x
  • 8
    Mozart
    Unlike Haydn, Mozart never made symphonic composition as much of a priority as opera and the piano concerto. Yet he created some of the most important symphonies of the classical era, among them his Symphony no. 41 in C Major—the Jupiter Symphony. x
  • 9
    Beethoven
    The sublime and iconoclastic Beethoven, in Professor Greenberg's words, "came to believe in self-expression and originality above all else. ... A symphony was no longer an aristocratic amusement, but a multifaceted musical statement, an instrumental genre operatic in its degree of contrast, conflict, and resolution." x
  • 10
    Schubert
    Schubert's Unfinished B Minor and Great C Major Symphonies demonstrated that the lyric and the colorful could coexist with the Beethoven-inspired vision of the symphony as a vehicle for profound self-expression. x
  • 11
    Berlioz and the Symphonie fantastique
    In his Symphonie fantastique, Hector Berlioz adopts the extreme emotions and drama of the opera house, and explicit, intimately autobiographical narrative, all bound together by a recurring, representative musical theme—the famous "fixed idea." The personally and creatively controversial Berlioz goes on to inspire a rising generation of Romantic radicals. x
  • 12
    Mendelssohn and Schumann
    The symphonies of Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann merged Classical tradition with elements of Romanticism within very personal and innovative expressive frameworks. x
  • 13
    Franck, Saint-Saens, and the Symphony in France
    In the 1860s and 1870s, French composers re-established a tradition of symphonic music in Paris, led by Cesar Franck and Camille Saint-Saens. x
  • 14
    Nationalism and the Symphony
    Few composers used the symphony to explore national identity more than Peter Tchaikovsky and Antonin Dvorak—two extremely different men, yet both conservative Romantics drawing on the music of their homelands for substance and inspiration. x
  • 15
    Brahms, Bruckner, and the Viennese Symphony
    Anton Bruckner and Johannes Brahms both achieved fame in Vienna—and both were inspired by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. But that's where their similarities end. x
  • 16
    Gustav Mahler
    Gustav Mahler's symphonies are, in Robert Greenberg's words, "philosophical tracts, spiritual musings, musical reflections on the great, unanswered questions." We focus on his Symphony no. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection) of 1895. x
  • 17
    Nielsen and Sibelius
    The key to Carl Nielsen's music is its directness of expression, inspired by the rustic simplicity of his Danish homeland. Jean Sibelius's Finnish homeland also exerted a strong influence on his creative palette, in which musical nationalism was expressed with a highly individual flavor. x
  • 18
    The Symphony in Russia
    Nationalism played a crucial role in the 19th-century emergence of a Russian symphonic tradition, with composers such as Glinka, Balakirev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Glazunov. In the 20th century, the "steel-fisted modernist" Prokofiev never ceased to shock and surprise—even with his First Symphony, which, ironically, pays homage to the Classical style. x
  • 19
    Charles Ives
    Charles Ives synthesized classical training, a love for American music of every kind, the New England of his childhood, radical experimentation, and his abject belief that music was the common language that bound together all humanity. x
  • 20
    Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber
    Aaron Copland epitomized the pan-American musical spirit of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, remaining the most representative American composer of the 20th century. Samuel Barber's Symphony no. 1 is a beautifully constructed work of great and enduring power. x
  • 21
    Roy Harris and William Schuman
    Roy Harris created symphonies marked by a primitive simplicity underlain by great emotional depth and expressive sophistication. William Schuman's Third Symphony heralded a period when American composers became accepted, performed, and appreciated in their own country to a previously unprecedented degree. x
  • 22
    The Twentieth-Century British Symphony
    It was not until the end of the 19th century that Britain would make a significant contribution to the international symphonic repertory. While Edward Elgar's symphonic music was not explicitly nationalistic, Ralph Vaughn Williams's symphonies did draw heavily from England's folk heritage. x
  • 23
    Olivier Messiaen and Turangalila!
    Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila, organized around a number of cyclic themes, was hugely controversial—and a magnificent achievement, completely unique in the symphonic repertory. x
  • 24
    Dmitri Shostakovich and His Tenth Symphony
    Dmitri Shostakovich was used and abused by the Soviet powers during much of his life. Somehow, he survived—even as his Tenth Symphony made dangerously implicit criticisms of the Soviet government. x

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  • 24 lectures on 6 DVDs
  • 224-page printed course guidebook
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  • 224-page printed course guidebook
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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

The Symphony is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 42.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good overview of symphonies A broad overview of the genre with all major composers covered. By necessity, many major composers are given only a single or half lecture. What was eye-opening for me was the number of high quality composers before and around the time of Haydn, many of which one would be hard pressed to distinguish from Mozart or Haydn without taking this course. These include Sammartini, Wagenseil, Stamitz, Richter, Holzbauer, Cannabich, Gossec, Boccherini, and Vanhal. Another thing I learned from the course was that Cesar Franck was a one hit symphonic wonder. I also learned about American composers such as Roy Harris and William Schumann. Prof Greenberg is in his element like no other course, because he is an American composer who also teaches at a conservatory. This course is well worth the effort, and there is much material here not covered in other courses.
Date published: 2012-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Delightful I thought this lecture series was just wonderful. Educational and entertaining. Professor Greenberg is delightful to listen to.
Date published: 2012-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthwhile! In this series of lectures on the history and development of the symphony as a musical genre, Professor Greenberg proves his usual energetic and entertaining self. Perhaps as a result of suggestions following prior courses, the musical excerpts in this case are more substantial and there is not a single occurrence of Professor Greenberg speaking over the music. Yet, it is worthwhile to copy this course onto a playlist and to insert full renditions of some of the works discussed from a separate source. Personally, I found that too little time was granted to the 18th century composers and too much to 20th century works, especially from the United States. But of course, the lecturer is entitled to his own editorial choices! Overall, this fascinating course is highly recommended.
Date published: 2011-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from DELIGHTFUL, GLORIOUS, INFORMATIVE This review refers to the CD's. Professor Greenberg's courses combine imparting a vast amount of his knowledge while one is immersed in beautiful music. It's an extraordinary experience for the non-musician who knows nothing about the technical side of producing music. For one like me who grew up surrounded by folksingers and listening on the side to jazz, Greenberg's method is a revelation. It's a gateway into a whole new world of listening. It's also a lot of fun. He throws in antidotes about the composers and their lives as he introduces them to one as well as between selections of the composer's music. In an almost off hand manner, he provides one with some information about the structure of symphonies as he goes along. This is, to me, teaching at the highest level. I looked forward to each lecture while the listening time seemed to fly. The series added immeasurably to the pleasure of listening to my own modest collection of symphonies on CD's. I've also listened to these lectures many times over the years since I was introduced to his work with TGC. Even if one's taste is limited to rap or rock and roll, there is plenty of meat here to listen to and learn from regardless of what genre has the most appeal to one. It makes listening to anything more meaningful, and is recommended to everyone, not just the 'long hairs' as classical music concert goers used to be called.
Date published: 2011-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Good This is based on downloaded version. Bob Greenberg is one of the top 3 TC professors, if not #1. I have listened to all his courses and they are all excellent. This course is not as technical as some of his other courses. I mean especially his wonderful How to Listen and Understand Great Music that provides an overview of classical music. I think it might be a good idea to listen to it before this course, but it is not absolutely necessary. He has a unique ability to present serious and technical material (for a non-musician like me) in a light and humorous way that is easy to follow and understand. It is always a disappointment when Bob Greenberg’s course ends, because you want it to go on. Many of the works discussed were new to me and I have since purchased quite a few of them and continue to enjoy them to this day. In summary, any course by Bob Greenberg is great, including this one.
Date published: 2011-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Different Approach I've listened to a few of Greenberg's courses so far, but by no means his full TGC corpus. This course marks a different approach from some of his others (e.g., Opera, Beethoven's symphonies, Bach, Concert Masterworks) in that he avoids technical analysis and gives us instead a sampling of a great many composers and their principal symphonic works. Greenberg gives us musical snippets from the many works upon which he touches, accompanied by informative and frequently humorous descriptions of their composers and the circumstances under which they were produced. This admittedly (by Greenberg) superficial approach left me occasionally frustrated and wanting more in-depth analysis, but it's inevitable in a survey course of this kind. Greenberg's trademark sense of humor -- and in particular his loopy similes -- are much in evidence in these lectures. A highlight for me was his hilarious recitation of Hector Berlioz' recounting of his absurd interview with the Italian pedant Cherubino, which left me howling with laughter on my morning commute, to the bemusement of my fellow motorists on the General Velasco turnpike in Santiago. Another highlight was the opportunity to learn about some lesser-known (to me) composers, whose works I'm going to look up on I Tunes. I hope they're there!
Date published: 2011-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breadth, not Depth, but that can be a good thing. I listened to the CDs. Some Greenberg material needs DVDs, but this was great on Audio. This never gets as intense as some of his more advanced, detailed material, so I think it is great for commutes. I rarely felt the need to have the booklet in hand while listening. I found that referring to it in between lectures was enough, usually to double check the name of a musical excerpt or composer's name. This course is hundreds of years in outline. It is a "buffet" course. It is filled with anecdotes, and stays light and fun. Some have critiqued it for being too light weight, but I enjoyed it immensely. I have listened to it in its entirety twice, and parts of it more than twice. I played two instruments when I was young, but was not a serious musician. I have listened to concert music for many years. I learned of some composers that were new to me, and learned of many, many concert works that were new to me. I have been inspired to buy more than two dozen music CDs after listening to the course. Berlioz' and Messiaen's symphonies were a revelation. I immediately wondered how they escaped my attention, and I ordered them immediately. They each get the better part of lecture. One reviewer recommended trying Greenberg's lengthy survey course first. It is a great course, but I think anyone can enjoy this course as their first Greenberg course. Then ... move on to Fundamentals of Music, and then one of the more technical, and in depth, courses like the Beethoven symphony course.
Date published: 2010-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Symphony and the Symphonists In 24 lectures Prof. Greenberg covers the history of the symphony from its C18 beginnings to Shostakovich. Less technically detailed than some of his courses it is, nonetheless, highly entertaining and informative. Greenberg's sparkling style brings to life all those "dead German dudes" (to borrow a phrase from one of his other courses). The musical examples are excellent and well chosen.The last part of the course, which covers C20 is especially interesting. Three lectures on American symphonic composers, including Roy Harris and William Schuman, and a lectiure devoted to Olivier Messian's Turangalila, broaden the listener's musical experience. Recommended for anyone with more than a passing interest in classical music.
Date published: 2010-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful I enjoyed this course so much that I listened to it twice and I will probably come back to it again. It provides just the right mix of history and music analysis. To get the full benefit of this course I suggest you take Greenberg's "How to Listen and Understand Great Music" and "Understanding the Fundamentals of Music" first.
Date published: 2010-04-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from sadly more history than music I am not a total neophyte when it comes to classical music & therein perhaps lies my lessened level of satisfaction with Bob Greenberg's Symphony series. I had hoped for some insight into the interplay of composers as well as some actual musical analysis and appreciation of the various symphonies deemed important enough to discuss. What i got was a fairly clipped series of biographical thumbnail sketches which i could have easily obtained via Wiki. A lot of "born in... lived in... moved to... died in" sort of trivia, but precious little actual musical criticism or examination of exactly what made these symphonies great. The lectures are arranged (more or less) chronologically by composer, so you never get the feeling of what movements resulted in their musical output, just that Person X lived in Vienna & made these Y symphonies. As for Herr Greenberg, I do not doubt Bob's superior intellect and learned background in this subject, but he seemed to be playing with one hand tied behind his back, so to speak. Just when he was about to delve into interesting detail about a composer, whoosh, we're herded along to the next exhibit with the typical: "Born 1858, died 1906" intro that makes it so unsatisfying. I didn't mind his flamboyant presentation and effete tone, if anything it whetted my appetite for further discussion that just never quite showed up. Just more names, dates, and facile background info that most people with a rudimentary knowledge of the art-form would find to be "old hat." So for a beginner this may entertain and minimally enlighten, but for anyone beyond knowing the difference between Beethoven, Brahms, and Bach, it quickly devolves into an empty tease punctuated by names and dates.
Date published: 2010-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Overview Professor Greenberg's great enthusiasm and energy make this course a success. I am not a musician and do not have extensive musical training, but I still enjoyed this course very much. Another professor covering the same material could have been deathly dull -- not Professor Greenberg; his humor and passion carried me from lecture to lecture, even as I felt my interest wane from time to time. I typically purchase TTC DVDs, but this time I llistened to the audio download -- that worked very well, and I would recommend that method to any potential purchaser.
Date published: 2009-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Companion to "The Concerto: Series The Symphony Taught by Robert Greenberg 24 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","Concert Masterworks", "The Concerto",and the "Great Masters" a series of ten courses highlighting the life and music of major classical composers from Hayden to Shostakovich. This course titled "The Symphony" examines the evolution and development of the Symphony genre, from its beginings nearly 300 years ago , through its development,and into the 20th Century. It is a fascinating story filled with delightful personalities to explore, interresting technological developments and social changes that all directly effected the development of the Symphony in one way or another. Dr. Greenberg provides superb examples of the genre with insightful analysis. The works are well chosen examples and demonstrate some of the most popular and beautiful music ever written. In addition to well known works and composers, the viewer will become familiar with some some less commonly heard works especialy from the 20th Century. With 24 lectures, the course gives the depth and insight that some of the shorter music series are unable to provide.This course works equaly well in both audio and video formats. This course is a great companion to the excellent course "The Concerto" also by Dr. Greenberg.
Date published: 2009-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful and Enjoyable This was one of the better lecture sets I've done. It was thoroughly enjoyable and easy to listen to while driving. Many times, 24+ lecture sets can start to bore me but Prof Greenburg kept it interesting and with the topics really changing from lecture to lecture (being different composers), it was always something new.
Date published: 2009-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Marvelous Survey Course This is another of Professor Greenberg's wonderful courses on classical music. I found this series to be a perfect companion to his similar course, "The Concerto." If you already are a fan of Professor Greenberg, this course, a broad history of the symphony, will need no special introduction. If you are not familiar with The Teaching Company's most consistently entertaining lecturer, then don't hestate to start right here. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2009-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Probably his best course I have a number of Dr. Greenberg's courses and I enjoy this one the most. I am listening to it for the second time and find his insights enlightening, though the discourse could have shaved some of the many asides that clutter the lectures. Sometimes his attempts at humor are sharp, and other times fall flat. But he does cover a pretty substantial range and uses select musical pieces effectively to illustrate his points. He certainly is well-qualified and enthusiastic and brings the topic to life. A listener can appreciate his scholarship and commitment to bringing the sweep of Symphony history to the masses, but I do think TeachCo. should have a broader range of professors to do the music courses.
Date published: 2009-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A good gift idea for any conductor! We liked this one so much that this is the second time we have watched these lectures. My husband and I play cello together in our community orchestra and this series of lectures has given us more understanding of the music we perform. We suggested Haydn’s “Farewell Symphony” to our conductor and got to be the first to leave the stage when we performed it. We would not have been aware of its existence and background had we not “attended” these lectures. Excellent guidebook full of information for further listening and learning. Any Dr. Greenburg course would make an excellent gift for a musician.
Date published: 2009-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent as Always AUDIO CD: Prof. Greenberg has delivered about twice the number of Teaching Company courses as any other professor and the reason is clear. Although virtually all the TC professors can lay claim to scholarship, Prof. Greenberg is the most engaging and funny. He does not fear to get into the musical details while keeping the tone light and engaging. Given the fact that many of his courses already cover many symphonies, this course is an excellent survey of the form. Because of the sheer number of symphonies Haydn composed, and because Haydn virtually invented the Classical Symphony, it's understandable that Haydn gets two lectures. If you want more Beethoven, Prof. G does all nine in a separate course. If you have never heard Prof. Greenberg before, this course would be a good start.
Date published: 2009-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant, enjoyable, informative What more can I say about Prof. Greenberg? He is a true advocate for all the composers he presents here, showing you their own world in context so that we can better understand their music and its importance. Greenberg has impressive, unparalleled knowledge about musical composition and history, and a very clear, focused way of presenting it. A little rowdy at times, sometimes you just have to roll your eyes at his puns ("Bruckner's music composed for the Cremation Society must have been a barn-burner, most ASHuredly!") but you gotta give him credit for livening up hours of commuting with wit, humor, and incredible scholarship. Most of all, his selected musical excerpts are wonderfully chosen, and give you a great feeling for the composers' own spirit. I have already bought copies of Dvorak's 7th and Nielsen's 4th, after being won over to them by Greenberg's passion for their music, and enjoyable selections from these symphonies. Best of both worlds - informative lectures, and diversionary, relaxing music! Encore!
Date published: 2009-01-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Etertaining but an Outline Only I bought this for my octogenarian mother-in-law and have since watched it with her as she was so thrilled by it. Greenberg is his usual ebullient self; the consummate showman. While I found the early lectures quite illuminating, once we moved into the second half of the course, Greenberg's highly selective approach of focusing on just a few key composers seemed more obviously incapable of conveying much more than a superficial understanding of the broader trends in symphonic composition. This is essentially an OUTLINE of the symphony as mappable using some its most important exponents - but it is far from being a complete picture. While the symphony may have suffered from being untrendy in certain parts of Europe in the mid-20th century, symphonic music kept being produced throughout Europe and re-emerged strongly in many places around the world after WW2. Greenberg skates over all but the most famous symphonic composers of the 20th century; and neither does he really explain how the symphony morphed into other similarly inspired but less traditional forms. My mother in law thinks Greenberg is the bees knees. My view is that the course is an entertaining and worthy enough place to commence one's study but it will only take you so far in understanding the historical development of the symphony.
Date published: 2009-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from There is no more mystery, just keen understanding I took a course about the symphony in graduate school which at the time was insightful. The class however never took root. Greenberg's insight and tactical manuevering through the subject hit the mark! It is not the "end all" concerning the subject but it does take a huge part of the mystery out of it!
Date published: 2008-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Greenberg is a marvelous instructor. In an 80 year old woman with no knowledge of music- I am now beginning to listen & understand.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course widened horizons for the symphony beyond the usual repertoire - especially liked the inclusion of American & 20th Century composers.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Each course had enough detail to be of graduate quality and was easily understood, at times though, it was more than we really needed. Sound and lecture extremely well done.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Greenberg is an extraordinary teacher - interesting & knowledgeable with a beautiful, fluent command of the language. He made my time on the elliptical machine enjoyable!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have been attending symphony, chamber & choral concerts for 20 years but after taking Greenberg's courses, I have entered a new world of enjoyment.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Greenberg's "The Symphony" is a course I've been waiting for - a symphonic history of Western music selected with insight and presented with "attitude".
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Prof Greenberg very knowledgable but too many irrelevant asides and info and he too punctilious about unimportant facts and dates not enough music
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The quality of the softer music samples was poor and the sound "muddy" - very low fi. Prof. gave about 1/2 or much space to lesser authors like Buchman as to more insight ones like Brahms.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Robert Greenberg is fantastic - he lights up my life with his humor and incredible scholarship and his obvious respect and love of the music
Date published: 2008-10-17
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