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How to Listen to Great Music: A Guide to Its History, Culture, and Heart

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  132 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
From one of the most trusted names in continuing education-the knowledge you need to unlock "the most abstract and sublime of all the arts."

Whether you're listening in a concert hall or on your iPod, concert music has the power to move you. The right knowledge can deepen the ability of this music to edify, enlighten, and stir the soul. In How to Listen to Great Music, Pr
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Plume
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Book Him Danno
If you enjoy music you will enjoy this book. It is a series of lectures on music and how it is made. I have a few musicians in the family and the knowledge they have far exceeds mine, but with this book I can sort of hold my own in a musical conversation.

Great information for anyone interested in music. It took me a long time to read being a lecture series and not a mystery, but it was worth the time. The authors approach is multi-faceted in the fact that he talks about the history, the structu
Esther Dan
Dec 20, 2015 Esther Dan rated it liked it
Fun study on music
Jul 02, 2013 Yasmin rated it it was ok
Finished the book and as long as the author kept to the point it was interesting, however, as soon as he brought his own personal voice to it the whole thing was marred. I don't know if it is a singular quirk of the author to add personable elements to his work or it is not a usual feature of other authors with similar work experience. However, I found his own personal side remarks to be infantile and ridiculous. I mean there is nothing too wrong in trying to give what is called a human touch to ...more
Aug 11, 2013 brotagonist rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
I found this book nearly impossible to put down. Okay, I wanted to finish it quickly, in order to get back to listening to some great music, with a heightened understanding. I was inspired to order a number of CDs for my collection, due to Greenberg's fascinating analyses.

The first two thirds of the book, up to and including Beethoven, were very slow going, as I had to cling to every word, re-examining it numerous times, in order to comprehend its meaning and assemble it into my hitherto spotty
Rene Saller
This is a very good primer for the novice, but music majors and serious musicians might find it a bit patronizing or dumbed down. Being neither a music major nor a serious musician (or even a reasonably competent one), I found it helpful, and I liked Greenberg's obvious passion for his subject and his deep knowledge of the material. Although he's certainly engaging, sometimes his tone is a bit annoying; he has a penchant for dorky jokes, but those probably come across a lot better in a classroom ...more
Sep 10, 2015 Keith rated it really liked it
In preparing for a trip to Europe that includes Salzburg and a night listening to Mozart and Strauss, I found this book provided a lovely foundation for my already growing love of classical music. The reading might have been easier if I had had the CDs that accompany the book but I was able to make do with my library's downloadable music collection.
I recommend this one for anyone with a desire to learn about classical music and the musicians who created the classics.
Jaroslav Tuček
Jan 29, 2016 Jaroslav Tuček rated it it was ok
This is a decent introduction to the history of classical music and as long as you approach it as such it will not disappoint. Whether the book can teach anyone how to listen to that kind of music or how to better appreciate the experience is doubtful - it didn't for me anyway. Ultimately, reading about music is probably as good an idea as listening to talks about canvas paintings. I'd recommend buying a selection of classical CDs instead.
Mar 26, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. It never claims to be THE definitive guide but reads like a friend who is happily answering all your questions and pointing out some fun and, er, noteworthy stories.
Stephen Jenkins
Dec 29, 2015 Stephen Jenkins rated it it was ok
bought this for my grandson who is a musician, as am I. Not bad intro to the concept that music is created in a context and it is that context that helps us understand it better.
Jul 14, 2011 josh rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: music appreciators
Recommended to josh by: saw it on the shelf @ UAPL
this was a beast that took me nearly forever to read, but i'm thrilled i stuck with it. greenberg does his damnedest to highlight the pertinent socio-political events occurring during the time that "classical" music was composed and why composers created the masterworks they did. all music was intertwined, stemming from roots laid by previous generations and constantly evolving. understanding the context in which it was originally performed lends the modern listener to feel the awe that the firs ...more
May 30, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I appreciated the inclusion of music as I wasn't familiar with a lot of the pieces he talked about.

One of my favorite parts:
"In their own lifetimes, Johann Sebastian Bach's music was criticized for being impenetrably complex; Haydn's for being too facile; Mozart's for being overly long and complicated; Beethoven's for being virtually unfathomable and without melody; and hey, Johannes Brahms was called a 'giftless bastard,' by the composer Peter Tchaikovsky no less!" (272)

Mark Hiser
Jul 09, 2011 Mark Hiser rated it it was amazing
An excellent book introducing the Western Common Practice (1600-1900) which includes the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods.

I have listened to several courses Dr. Greenberg teaches for The Great Courses; they are excellent. This book, a companion to one of those courses, is full of information that, for the most part, is accessible to non-music people like me.
Sep 08, 2012 Derek rated it really liked it
Pretty good but very brief overview of Western classical music. Most enjoyable were the deeper studies of specific classical works. The author's sense of humor doesn't always work in places, but it's not too distracting.
Dec 18, 2012 Barb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, nope
It's a good book, but I should have bought the print copy.
Sep 06, 2012 Tamara marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

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Robert M. Greenberg is an American composer, pianist and musicologist. He has composed more than 50 works for a variety of instruments and voices, and has recorded a number of lecture series on music history and music appreciation for The Teaching Company.

Greenberg earned a B.A. in music, magna cum laude, from Princeton University and received a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Ca
More about Robert Greenberg...

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“We are hardwired to hear and make music. Yes, we will sigh with pleasure when we hear a favorite theme played by an orchestra, and who hasn’t felt a stab of nostalgia, or even brushed away a tear, when hearing a song reminiscent of youth or a lost love? However, such exquisite moments notwithstanding, the musical experience represents something far deeper. Broadly defined, music is sound in time. Sound is nothing less than our perception of the vibrations, the movement, of the universe around us. Music is an intensification, a crystallization, a celebration, a glorification, of that movement and those vibrations. Pretty heady stuff. Far beyond spoken language—which, with its sounds in time, might rightly be considered a low-end sort of music—music is a universal language; one need not speak Ashanti in order to groove to West African drumming; or German in order to be emotionally flayed by Beethoven; or English to totally freak when listening to Bruce Springsteen. Say it with flowers? Nah. If you really want to get your expressive point across, say it with music. No human activity” 0 likes
“We cannot possibly overstate the importance of the Christian Church for its role in preserving, defending, and, ultimately, re-civilizing Europe.” 0 likes
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