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How to Listen to Great Music: A Guide to Its History, Culture, and Heart (Great Courses) Paperback – April 26, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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  • How to Listen to Great Music: A Guide to Its History, Culture, and Heart (Great Courses)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Greenberg is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University. His articles have appeared in the History of Philosophy Quarterly and the Journal of Philosophy.
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Product Details

  • Series: Great Courses
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; 1 edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452297087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452297081
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've bought Goulding's "Classical music, the 50 greatest composers and their 1,000 greatest works" and Libbey's "The NPR guide to building a classical CD collection". I must say they're two great books, but if I had to choose THE classical book for starters I would highly recommend the Greenberg's "How to listen to great music".

It takes you by the hand accross the different eras, analyzing every period, explaining every detail, and decomposing every piece even using musical notation.

It's just a pleasure to read this book, it even turns you into a happy mood.

Obviously, you need to listen to the music he's explaining, and you may either look it up on youtube, or buy/download a CD.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Treat yourself to this book! I've listened to some of Professor Greenberg's audio courses from The Teaching Company and found them to be absolutely wonderful. I worried about whether his material could be presented as well in written format. It can! The book is packed with fascinating information, is beautifully organized and presented with humor. It's extremely "accessible" and a great read. I'll be referencing it often.
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Format: VHS Tape
Before presenting my review I should warn the reader that I have no training in music. I do not read music nor do I play any instrument. I do however love to listen to music of all genres.

I was looking for a good, not too shallow and not too academic, introduction to western classical music. I wanted to learn to appreciate what I was listening to beyond just the tune and rhythym. Greenberg's course fit the bill quite nicely. Starting with early music Greenberg takes one on a very rewarding journey all the way to the modern composers. The third edition consists of 48 lectures at 45 minutes each for a total of 36 hours. Now some may consider this a tad long but for my purposes it was just great. In fact it took me a good 8 months to finish the course!

Professer Greenberg presents the material with zest and enthusiasm that makes the material easily understandable. An important concept in this course is the idea of 'music as a mirror'. In other words knowing the history, culture, and social norms of the time is ABSOLUTELY essential to understanding and appreciating the works.

The early lectures deal with music basics such as tone, form etc. which was great because for a non-musician like myself it lays the groundwork for later lectures. Some samples of ancient Greek music were quite beautiful.

I found that listening to about two lectures a week was just right to mull the contents over and maybe check out a point or two in any music dictionary. In some cases listening to a piece to corroborate a salient in the lectures helped a great deal.

I am so glad I purchased this set. I thought long and hard before coughing up the bread because the set was not cheap. But I am glad I did.
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Format: Paperback
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 structure of music and some of the instruments. Also some interesting stories are thrown in along the way.

This author knows his stuff and that enthusiasm comes out in this writing. My musical knowledge was small, but this book has really opened my eyes to what is out there. I had no idea what many of the pieces he mentioned were so I Googled a few and was fascinated. I think the CD is the way to go, the book can get a bit dry at times. But, I enjoyed this book and think I have a much better grasp on music than I ever did before.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recently bought Greenberg's TLC 30 Greatest Orchestral Works course which we are going through now. Bought this book to suppliment the course. Actually would recommend reading this excellent book prior to taking a Greenberg course. Greenberg is knowledgeable, entertaining and witty. If you have any interest in learning about the history and composition of classical music, I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book offers a great introduction to classical music history and practices. However, it includes some (not much) musical concepts and theory that may be alien for those who do not have any musical formal education. Even though the author explains most of the concepts pretty clearly, you'll miss some content without an adequate background.

The writing is good-humored and the flow is great!
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Format: Paperback
This is a terrific read, absorbing,fast-paced,full of information and humor. No matter how much or how little musical knowledge the reader already has, this book is a fun guide to a deeper enjoyment of concert music. By knowing something of the historical and societal milieu surrounding a piece,one can appreciate its relevance not only when it was first written, but also in our own lives today. I will be re-reading my copy many times.
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