The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works : The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Robert Greenberg
  • Series: The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music
  • 24 hrs and 52 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Over the centuries, orchestral music has given us a category of works that stand apart as transcendent expressions of the human spirit. What are these "greatest of the greats"? Find out in these 32 richly detailed lectures that take you on a sumptuous grand tour of the symphonic pieces that continue to live at the center of our musical culture. These thirty masterworks form an essential foundation for any music collection and a focal point for understanding the orchestral medium and deepening your insight into the communicative power of music. While seasoned music lovers will find the lectures a revealing journey through the repertoire, the course welcomes newcomers to orchestral music, offering a very accessible point of entry to this magnificent repertoire.
You'll encounter symphonies, concertos, tone poems, symphonic poems, and suites, delving into the works through extensive musical excerpts. The course covers the major eras and stylistic periods in Western music from the early 18th- to the mid-20th centuries and highlights a wide range of European and American works. Among these: Haydn's Symphony no. 104, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, and Shostakovich's Symphony no. 5. Throughout these lectures, you'll learn about the major musical forms found in orchestral writing and how they're used in conveying expressive meanings. Knowing how these forms work allows you to grasp the structure of the music as you hear it, and also to appreciate how the greatest composers used them, extended them, and finally departed from them in sublimely original ways.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

This is what audio books were made for

As someone with an extremely limited knowledge of music I have always felt intimidated by classical compositions. I could not tell you the difference between a symphony and a concerto, but after listening to these lectures I have a much better appreciation of them.

The lecturer's delivery is a cross of Lewis Black and George Will--authoritative but wickedly funny. He actually made me laugh out loud a few times. His passion for these works comes through in every lecture.

The format he follows is a brief bio-sketch of the composer followed by snippets of music and commentary. When he says "notice how the composer uses dissonant harmonies to convey struggle" you can actually hear it. Each lecture is meant to be complete in itself allowing you to jump around, but I found listening beginning to end to be most convenient.

This is an ideal work for an audio book.
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- Sean

If they cut off both hands, I will compose music..

If they cut off both hands, I will compose music anyway holding the pen in my teeth. Dimitri Shostakovich

This lecture series by Robert Greenberg on the 30 Greatest Orchestral Works is an amazing journey through music and the history of music starting with Vivaldi and ending with Shostakovich.

I learned a great deal about music and especially the composers and what they tried to accomplish through their music. I had no idea that at one time composers working for patrons were expected to come up with something new every month and didn't start writing their works down until people started asking them to play something again. Can you imagine how many great works were lost because they were not written down?

The list of the classes are as follows:
30 Greatest Orchestral Works
1. Introduction
2. Vivaldi’s-The Four Seasons
3. Bach’s-Brandenburg Concerto
4. Bach’s-Violin Concerto in E Major
5. Haydn’s-Symphony 104
6. Mozart’s -Piano Concerto 24 in C Minor
7. Mozart’s-Symphony #104 Jupiter In C Major
8. Beethoven-Symphony #3
9. Beethoven-Piano Concerto #4
10. Beethoven-Symphony #9
11. Schubert-Symphony #9
12. Mendelssohn—“Italian” Symphony
13. Schumann—Symphony No. 3
14. Brahm’s-Symphony No.4
15. Brahm’s-Violin Concerto
16. Tchaikovsky—Symphony No. 4
17. Tchaikovsky—Violin Concerto
18. Bedrich Smetana—Má Vlast
19. Dvorák—Symphony No. 8
20. Dvorák—Concerto for ’Cello
21. Rimsky-Korsakov—Scheherazade
22. Richard Strauss—Thus Spoke Zarathustra
23. Mahler—Symphony No. 5
24. Rachmaninoff—Symphony No. 2
25. Debussy—La Mer
26. Stravinsky—The Rite of Spring
27. Saint-Saëns—Symphony No. 3
28. Holst—The Planets
29. Copland—Appalachian Spring
30. Shostakovich—Symphony No. 5
31. Shostakovich—Symphony No. 10
32. The Ones that Got Away

He ends the lectures talking about some composers like Bizet and Bartok whose estates refuse to allow the Great Courses to teach their works, which is a shame.

I know now what to look for in a piece of music and some more composers I should look into. I can highly recommend the course and the lecturer.

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- Kristi Richardson "An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses