Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

By:  Professor Robert Greenberg
Format:  Audio
Length: 36 hours
Cost 1 audible credit = $11.00

This was one fantastic audiobook! This is part of the the Great Courses lecture series and if you order it through Great Courses it would cost about $300. However, if you order it through, it costs one credit, which is about $11.00. the only difference is that you don't receive the written course material, which might have come in handy on occasion but is not necessary to enjoy this incredible experience.

So what is this great experience? It is nothing short of a 48 lecture course on, exactly as promised, how to listen to great music! Each lecture is 45 minutes, so that adds up to about 40 hours of listening time... quite a commitment. Robert Greenberg is a music professor who seems like the type of person that if you met him at party you would feel like you knew him your whole life. His enthusiasm for music is contagious. He is a great story teller and has a way of describing music in such a way that "it sticks". 

Like most great teachers, he tells you what he is going to teach, teaches it, then summarizes what he just taught. As he frequently says, music is a mirror of the time, so he adds historical insight into the description of the music. He doesn't try to cover everything, that would be impossible, but takes a longitudinal approach, beginning with the ancient world and quickly moves forward to the baroque,classical and romantic period. In the process he defines musical vocabulary that conductors, composers and music producers seem to think we all understand but don't. In the process he not only clarifies our ability to perceive what the composer's intent was in the creation of the music, but also helps us to understand their brilliance in making complexity seem so simple. 

The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works

The course covers the major eras and stylistic periods in Western music from the early 18th- to the mid-20th centuries and highlights a wide range of European and American works. Among these: Haydn's Symphony no. 104, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, and Shostakovich's Symphony no. 5.