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Publisher's Summary

Have you ever wondered how the lives of great composers - especially when set against the social, political, and cultural context of their world - influenced their music?
After listening to this perceptive series of eight lectures on the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven, you will likely find that you hear his work in an entirely different way, with your insight informed by new knowledge of how Beethoven was able to create masterpieces from the crises of his life.
You'll learn about the years of progressive hearing loss - ultimately to produce total deafness - and the understandable agony and rage such a fate would bring upon a composer. About his deep depression over the end of his relationship with the woman he calls his Immortal Beloved. About his pathological hatred of authority, his persecution complex, even delusional behaviors.
But you'll also learn how each of these crises, and many others, served to drive Beethoven inward, to reinvent himself and redeem his suffering through art, creating disruptive works of profound passion and beauty that reinvented the nature of musical expression in the Western world.
©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By JaneN on 12-02-14

The strangest rabbit hole yet!

What did you love best about Great Masters: Beethoven - His Life and Music?

I have been journeying with Dr. G for several months now. Whenever I feel at a loss, I grab a supplemental lecture and jump down the rabbit hole. So I have learned about the lives of Bach and Mozart, and about the concerto and look forward to learning about the symphony—while using “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music” as my foundation. I just got back from the life of Beethoven—amazing music, amazing but wild gent—not at all what I expected--his life was more difficult, more sad. But I am stunned by how he changed the course of music despite the struggles of his own life. I will listen to his music with a different ear.

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24 of 24 people found this review helpful


By Carla Littleton on 11-14-14

Comprehensive and entertaining

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This audiobook covers Beethoven thoroughly and with humorous asides that are interesting.

What did you like best about this story?

I really like the inclusion of first hand materials such as excerpts from letters and legal documents that give Beethoven and his contemporaries voice in the lectures.

What does Professor Robert Greenberg bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Professor Greenberg is spectacular at using voice and tone to express emotion. This further brings to life the readings of first hand sources in a way I wouldn't necessarily experience by simply reading the material myself.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found myself laughing at several points in the lecture due to the turn of phrase or exuberant interjection of emotion in the lecture. i also found that the professor was as good at expressing the sad portions of the lectures as well, such as Beethoven's frustration over his hearing loss.

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16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By hfffoman on 03-29-17

The most annoying speaker I have ever heard

Any additional comments?

I do not think I have ever listened to a speaker as annoying as this one. He talks like a clown, his entire manner is supercilious, he puts a ridiculous emphasis on unnecessary words and he throws in inappropriate jokes (I mean that not in the PC sense) that made me want to scream. I fear that the sound of him shouting "AND I QUOTE... ...UNQUOTE" will haunt me for many weeks.<br/><br/>The content is interesting. Of course, Beethoven's life was just so fascinating, I would put it in the category of things everyone ought to study. The material isn't novel. Any decent biography of Beethoven will give you the same stories and the same interpretation of them, probably in more depth - though a book won't give you the musical extracts.<br/><br/>My recommendation would be to read a book about Beethoven's life and then listen to the lectures by Jonathan Biss available free on coursera. They are incomparably superior to this buffoon.

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0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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