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

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  59 ratings  ·  10 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, Pro...more
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...more
Yasmin
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
brotagonist
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...more
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
josh
Jul 14, 2011 josh rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Michelle
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
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.
Derek
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.
Barb
It's a good book, but I should have bought the print copy.
Tamara
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
More about Robert Greenberg...
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music (Great Courses, #700) Understanding The Fundamentals of Music (Great Courses, #7261) How to Listen to and Understand Opera (Great Courses, #740) Great Masters: Mozart: His Life and Music (Great Courses, #752) Beethoven - His Life and Music

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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
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