The Symphony : The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Robert Greenberg
  • Series: The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music
  • 18 hrs and 10 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

From its humble beginnings in the 17th-century Italian opera overture and the Baroque ripieno concerto, the symphony has evolved into one of the longest lived, and perhaps the most expressively inclusive, genres of instrumental music. Along the way, it has embraced nearly every trend to be found in Western concert music.
In this series of twenty-four 45-minute lectures, Professor Greenberg guides you on a survey of the symphony. You'll listen to selections from the greatest symphonies by many of the greatest composers of the past 300 years. You'll also hear selections from some overlooked works that, undeservedly, have been forgotten by contemporary audiences.
Your tour of the symphony includes


an examination of how the simultaneous development of the orchestra and the opera were crucial to the birth of the symphony as a genre;
a look at the earliest true symphonies that were exponents of the galant style that emerged in the period between the High Baroque and Viennese Classicism;
an exploration of Haydn and Mozart, the titans of the Classical age;
the sublime and iconoclastic Beethoven and his Fifth Symphony;
a study of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, which combined the extreme emotions and drama of the opera house with an explicit, intimately autobiographical narrative; and
national developments in France, Russia, Vienna, Bohemia, Scandinavia, America, and Great Britain.
The course concludes with an investigation of Dmitri Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony, which became, in Professor Greenberg's words, "a model for what the new, post-Stalin Soviet music might aspire to be-a more personally expressive, less explicitly programmatic work, one that both engaged and challenged its listeners."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Around the world and through time. . .

What made the experience of listening to The Symphony the most enjoyable?

I am stunned by the works I have listened to and enjoyed. Even more I am amazed that I have searched and found the Turangalila Symphony and plan to use Dr. G’s lecture to study it. I already like parts of it, but the other parts confuse me or irritate me (but in an interesting way). I think that’s what I appreciate most about this particular course—now I can listen to music and say “I like that” or “I’d like to hear that again” or “That one is still beyond me.” I have three options instead of just “I like it” or “No, no, no!”


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- JaneN "Jane Neal"

Super Survey of Symphonies

Greenberg is a superb lecturer who presents the symphony across the centuries in an electrifying and edifying manner. He brings each composer and his work to life. There are composers of whom I had never heard and I am better off now. But for even the familiar ones I have a deeper appreciation.
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- richard gunter "To listen or to read? To read or to listen? Or to read and listen?"

Book Details

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