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The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works by Robert…
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It's been kind of a rough end of the year, and my reading has slowed down as the Swedish Death Cleaning has speeded up. But audiobooks are great companions while I'm cleaning, and Robert Greenberg has carried me through some onerous tasks, especially this month. I chose it because I simply wasn't up to Roxane Gay or Ta-Nehisi Coates, or in fact anything that would make me feel sad or guilty or furious.

I chose well because this course of lectures shed light on a great many pieces of music that I'm already familiar with, giving me a deeper appreciation of the works and their composers. As I've said in other reviews, Professor Greenberg's understanding of music history and history in general, is deep, and he uses it to give context to the works he's discussing. He cites Beethoven's terrible, horrible, very bad, no good year as the impetus behind some of his greatest works, and puts Shostakovich's work in the context of Stalinism where composing the wrong thing could earn you a meat axe to the back of the head.

Beyond that, he shows us much of the technique behind the works, which is a way of understanding the history of music itself, of the compositional standards and how they were changed as composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms found them either too restrictive or simply outmoded.

I had a moment of serendipity with the lecture on Gustav Mahler's 5th symphony. As the lecture wound down, I found myself wanting to listen to the whole thing. But it was late and I didn't feel like hunting it down on Spotify. A few minutes later, I turned on the radio and found myself listening to Mahler's 5th, and thinking about what Professor Greenberg had said about it as I lay in bed, finding it a deeper experience for having just heard the lecture.

If you listen to classical music this lecture series, like Greenberg's other series on music, can greatly enrich your listening. I always come away from one of his series with a new appreciation for a composer or a work I'd never given much thought to. ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | Nov 28, 2017 |
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Indentifies and celebrates 30 of the greatest orchestral works in the concert repertoire.

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