*** Notice: For the protection of property rights, this catalog is available for online browsing only. Please drop us a line if you would like to receive a copiable version of this catalog. Thank You!





Bobby is a zany and enthusiastic young musician who wants to join the orchestra. But Strauss the Conductor must teach him a thing or two about the orchestra first... Through the antics of these two engaging puppet characters we gain an insight into the conductor and string section of the orchestra. We explore the history and development of ancient chordophones to the modern day violin, viola, cello, double bass and harp. We see these instruments in action and hear their sound qualities, exploring a range of playing techniques and varying timbres. This Australian-made, curriculum fit program also highlights the important role that the conductor plays within the orchestra.

Please contact us for primary and secondary schools pricing.

Note : The above titles may have some territorial restrictions. Please feel free to send us an enquiry

Item no.: VE11100117
Format: DVD (Closed Captioned)
Audience: Junior Secondary
Duration: 29 minutes
Copyright: 2009
Price: AUD 235.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Young Bobby is learning a lot about the orchestra from his new mentor, Strauss the conductor. But he still has more to learn before he can become a member of the orchestra. Through the antics of these two engaging puppet characters we are introduced to the percussion section of the orchestra, exploring the history and development of ancient membranophones and idiophones to modern day orchestral percussion instruments. We see and hear these instruments in action, exploring a range of playing techniques and varying timbres. This Australian-made, curriculum fit program also highlights important performers and outlines the typical orchestral idioms of today, various educational programs, and emphasises contemporary concepts.

Please contact us for primary and secondary schools pricing.

Note : The above titles may have some territorial restrictions. Please feel free to send us an enquiry

Item no.: TK11100118
Format: DVD (Closed Captioned)
Audience: Junior Secondary
Duration: 21 minutes
Copyright: 2009
Price: AUD 235.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Young Bobby, an enthusiastic and zany musician, has no idea about the orchestra, but luckily Strauss the Conductor is here to teach him before he joins up. Through the antics of these two engaging puppet characters we learn all about the woodwind and brass sections of the orchestra. We explore the history and development of ancient aerophones to the modern day flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, French horn, trombone and tuba. We see and hear these instruments in action and explore a range of playing techniques and varying timbres. This Australian-made, curriculum fit program also shows woodwind and brass instruments being used in contemporary music.

Please contact us for primary and secondary schools pricing.

Note : The above titles may have some territorial restrictions. Please feel free to send us an enquiry

Item no.: HW11100119
Format: DVD (Closed Captioned)
Audience: Junior Secondary
Duration: 28 minutes
Copyright: 2009
Price: AUD 235.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Composing can be an amazing experience - whether you're a budding Mozart, a techno freak, a hard-core guitarist or a complete novice with just a computer at hand - self-expression has never been as easy. But you've still got to know the basics to get yourself heard. This program looks at a variety of starting points for composition through the eyes of some of Australia's emerging composers and songwriters in a number of styles and genres. Featuring hip hop hero DJ Bonez, rock gods The Art Nova and Mark Pollard, and the head of composition at the Victorian College of the Arts, this program covers what composition is, theme and variation, lyrics and music and form and structure. A practical and entertaining look at this popular subject.

Please contact us for primary and secondary schools pricing.

Note : The above titles may have some territorial restrictions. Please feel free to send us an enquiry

Item no.: PF11100008
Format: DVD
Audience: Junior - Middle Secondary
Duration: 25 minutes
Copyright: 2008
Price: AUD 235.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


In 1802, Beethoven faced the prospect of becoming deaf. But instead of causing defeat, that crisis triggered a season of transcendent creativity that changed the course of music history. In this program, pianist Mia Chung explores the innovations of Beethoven's genius in the face of enormous obstacles as she performs, deconstructs, and discusses two of Beethoven's most significant solo piano works: Piano Sonata no. 21 in C Major, op. 53 ("Waldstein"), composed in 1803-04, and Sonata no. 31 in A-flat Major, op. 110, composed in 1821. Ms. Chung has been called "uncommonly insightful, individualistic, lively" and "technically dazzling" by The New York Times.

Note: Only available in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan.

Item no.: WR02304805
Format: DVD
Duration: 144 minutes
Copyright: 2008
StdBkNo.: 9781608259908
Price: USD 200.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Music is a defining part of youth culture and, in today's society, their tastes in music are varied. This program looks at how the Kool Skools project encourages a broad range of musical projects in schools and other youth organisations. Profiling three different Kool Skools musical projects, the program features rock, jazz and chamber music and is an access-all-areas pass into this inspiring new project.

Please contact us for primary and secondary schools pricing.

Note : The above titles may have some territorial restrictions. Please feel free to send us an enquiry

Item no.: TR11100070
Format: DVD
Duration: 24 minutes
Copyright: 2007
Price: AUD 235.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Trace the history of popular music through its various stages and learn what influence it had upon American culture.

Learning Objectives
1) American pop music will be understood as a legitimate medium for expression.
2) The student will be able to identify ethnic dance, folk, blues, swing, R&B, country, rockabilly, Motown, British Invasion, and rap music styles.
3) Pop music will be portrayed as being more than a symptom of 'youthful rebellion.'

Item no.: NG04241531
Format: DVD
Duration: 60 minutes
Copyright: 2005
Price: USD 60.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Learn the significance and history of these art forms, as authentic drummers and dancers perform before a live audience.

1) Students will become appreciative of African culture.
2) Students will learn how a culture can express its heritage through its music.
3) Students will be exposed to a sampling of eastern and western African cultures by experiencing a variety of dances and songs, and by seeing various styles of clothing.

Item no.: KC04300004
Format: DVD
Audience: Grades 6-12
Duration: 60 minutes
Copyright: 2004
Price: USD 80.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Players in period costume demonstrate the instruments and sounds of the 13th Century and discuss madrigals, canons, and ancient instruments.

Learning Objectives:
1) Students will be exposed to the musical culture of the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
2) Historical background information about the use of music during the Medieval and Renaissance periods will be provided.
3) Language used in connection with music during the Medieval and Renaissance periods will be examined.

Item no.: WF04300379
Format: DVD
Audience: Grades 6-12
Duration: 60 minutes
Copyright: 2004
Price: USD 60.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Immerse yourself in the beauty of one of the most artistically creative periods in history. See how the Renaissance artists and composers, influenced and inspired by the new humanistic philosophy, developed new forms and techniques.

Item no.: NV07981305
Format: DVD
Audience: Grades 6-8
Duration: 54 minutes
Copyright: 2001
StdBkNo.: 9781607119791
Price: USD 115.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


THE FOUR SEASONS are concerti for solo violins and ensemble. SPRING has violins singing like birds1 doing rapid runs to suggest streaks of lightning, and the low strings rumbling like thunden SUMMER includes a storm; the solo violin represents a cuckoo, a turtledove, a goldfmch, and a weeping shepherd. There are loud tremolo passages to suggest thunder. AUTUMN is a picture of harvest-the joys of reaping, the weariness of the peasants, the vigor of a hunting scene. WINTER utilizes the strings to suggest shivering, teeth chattering, feet stomping for warmth. As well as snow, ice, and the winds there is the comfort of the fireplace.

Item no.: TK00160820
Format: DVD
Audience: Elementary - General
Duration: 22 minutes
Copyright: 1998
Price: USD 175.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


COUPLETS OF THE TOREADOR is the prelude to the opera. It opens as a lively work full of vigor before becoming more tranquil. CARMEN TORERO is the celebrated toreador march that portrays the exciting life of a bullfighter. The percussion is given full rein in this vivacious tune with its reprise. CARMEN SUITES contains a number of tunes from the opera framed by a gentle passage of subdued string background. It emphasizes slow reminisces of the Habanera theme, played by carillon. MEMORIES OF ALBAMBRA is a meditative work reflecting the beauties of a Moorish palace. Francesco Tarrega (1854-1909) was called the Chopin of the Guitar.

Item no.: TH00160124
Format: DVD
Audience: Elementary - General
Duration: 22 minutes
Copyright: 1998
Price: USD 175.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


The opening movement of Mozarts beloved A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is march-like in nature. It is light and charming like the DIVERTIMENTI, pleasant works designed to entertain. The RONDO ALLA TURCA was originally the last movement of a piano sonata; it is an airy tune in the style that Mozarts Vienna liked to refer to as Turkish. The V SONATA IN C is here performed by flute with string accompaniment. The Rondo from A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC repeats its opening phrase on many different steps of the scale, and bounces along to a vibrant conclusion. The EXSULTATE is the finale of Mozarts 1773 cantata, where its bright hue makes it a perfect contrast with all the expressive music that precedes it; it is marked to be played presto

Item no.: EU00160496
Format: DVD
Audience: Elementary - General
Duration: 28 minutes
Copyright: 1998
Price: USD 175.00

[Go top]

Add to cart


Taught by Robert Greenberg

This course by Professor Robert Greenberg is a biographical and musical study of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) that places emphasis on his life in a social, political, and cultural context.

It is first and foremost a biographical study and includes excerpts from more than a dozen of Beethoven's works, to make the case that Beethoven was one of the great disruptive forces in the history of music, after whom nothing could ever be the same again.

You learn about Beethoven's:

  • appearance and attitude
  • dysfunctional family life and relationships with his mother, father, paternal grandfather, and brothers
  • musical training, especially his seemingly unique approach to the piano
  • celebrity in music- and piano-crazed Vienna
  • compositional successes including symphonies, piano sonatas, and string quartets, among many others
  • hearing loss and the crisis of 1802
  • delusions and his relationship with his nephew Karl.

    You learn about the main features of some of his greatest music, but without the sort of detailed, technical analysis in the course The Symphonies of Beethoven, or in Professor Greenberg's analysis of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto and Violin Concerto in the Concert Masterworks series.

    Reinventing Musical Expression in the Western World

    Beethoven's appearance was somewhat striking. He was short, with a thick body and an unusually large head, covered, of course, with his famous wild hair. Heinrich Friedrich Ludwig Rellstab, a journalist, music critic, and contemporary of Beethoven's, described his hair as "Not frizzy, not straight, but a mixture of everything."

    He was physically clumsy; he was liable to knock over or break anything he touched. He could not keep time when dancing and had problems cutting and shaping quill pens for himself.

    Beethoven exhibited a pathological hatred for authority, a persecution complex, and delusional behaviors.

    And, together with his deafness, these problems forced him to look inward and reinvent himself and, in so doing, reinvent the nature of musical expression in the Western world.

    An Artist of Musical "Rebirth"

    Beethoven experienced "rebirth" as an artist three times over the course of his life.

    The First Rebirth: Intense Composition

    He was born on December 17, 1770, into what we would call today a dysfunctional family, with an abusive and alcoholic father and a depressed mother.

    His musical talent was recognized early, but his father attempted to beat him into becoming a child prodigy to rival Mozart. It was a futile attempt; there could only be one Mozart.

    By 1785, the young Beethoven was the sole breadwinner for the family and, in 1787, the primary caregiver for his younger brothers. In 1789, he sought and was granted some relief from these responsibilities from local authorities and experienced his first musical rebirth.

    During this period of intense composition, Beethoven wrote five sets of piano variations, ballet music, concert arias, chamber works for piano and winds, and two cantatas for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

    The Second Rebirth: Pianist and Hero v When he moved to Vienna to study with Haydn in 1792, Beethoven "was living with a reputation as a virtuoso pianist in a city that was mad for pianists," says Professor Greenberg.

    "He outplayed virtually every other pianist in the city in competitions and became the darling of the Viennese aristocracy. During this same time, he took lessons with Haydn, although his dislike of authority figures made most music lessons a waste of time."

    These early years in Vienna were also significant for his compositional career. From 1792-1803, he produced, among many other works, the Opus 1 Trios for Piano, Violin, and 'Cello; the Opus 18 string quartets; and the Symphony No. 1 in C Major.

    Meanwhile, his popularity outside Vienna grew.

    In 1801, Beethoven's career and finances were flourishing, but he was in poor health. His hearing loss was becoming progressively worse, and he grew increasingly depressed and panicked.

    His emotional crisis came to a head in 1802 but served as the creative catharsis for his second rebirth in 1803 in a self-sufficient and heroic guise, struggling against his fate.

    His "model" for this new self-image was Napoleon Bonaparte who, at the time, represented a vision of individualism and empowerment.

    Beethoven's music reflects this vision in its insistence on expressing the heights and depths of the artist's emotions. His Symphony No. 3 in Eb Major, Op. 55, for example, was revolutionary in its grand proportions and dramatic expressive content.

    This first of the so-called "Heroic Symphonies" changed the history of Western music.

    During this so-called "Heroic" compositional period, from 1803-1812, Beethoven produced such masterworks as the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Symphonies; the Violin Concerto; the Choral Fantasy; the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concerti; the five middle string quartets; the Mass in C Major; and the opera Fidelio.

    Toward the end of this period, however, Beethoven experienced a short-lived affair with the "Immortal Beloved," which ultimately precipitated his fall into despair and public ridicule.

    Beethoven had been irrationally possessive and jealous of his brothers in his youth. During this time, when his brother Carl died, Beethoven transferred these feelings to his nephew Karl and pursued four years of destructive litigation to gain guardianship of the boy.

    The Third Rebirth: "Modern" Works and the Ninth Symphony
    In 1819, Beethoven used these events, once again, as a catalyst for an artistic rebirth.

    In the last years of his life, he wrote many of his most profound, most "modern" works, including the six late string quartets, the Ninth Symphony, and Missa Solemnis.

    Indeed, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 became the single most influential piece of music composed in the 19th century. The work breaks with time-honored conventions and distinctions to give precedence to the expressive needs and desires of the artist.

    During these last years, Beethoven was consumed by his craft but still difficult with friends, family, and business associates.

    An "Impossible" Composer

    Beethoven died on March 26, 1827. At the end of his life he had managed a reconciliation with his family and was given an affectionate tribute by the Viennese people.

    Perhaps he is best summed up by composer Gioacchino Rossini. When Rossini met Beethoven in 1822, he was stunned by the squalor of Beethoven's apartment and the sadness of the artist himself. As Frances Toye tells the story, "Later, he [Rossini] tried to do something for Beethoven, himself heading a subscription list. To no purpose, however. The answer [the Viennese gave] was always the same: Beethoven is impossible.'"

    Beethoven's Works

    Among the musical selections in this course are excerpts from the following works:
  • Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (1812)
  • Missa Solemnis in D Major, Op. 123 (1823)
  • Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93 (1812)
  • Wellington's Victory , Op. 91 (1813)
  • Piano Sonata in Bb Major, Op. 106 (1818)
  • Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (1804)
  • Symphony No. 3 in Eb Major, Op. 55 (1805)
  • String Quartet No. 7 in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1 (1806)
  • String Quartet No. 9 in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3 (1806)
  • Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (1808)
  • Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58 (1806)
  • Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 (1808)
  • Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (1824)

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: ME09280138
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    In both his life and his music, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a man of contrasts.

  • He composed serious Teutonic music and joyful dance music.
  • He was miserly with himself and exceedingly generous with family and associates.
  • He was kind to working people and known for his biting, malicious wit in artistic and aristocratic circles.

    No one's idea of an easy man to know, Brahms destroyed a good deal of his own work and almost all of his lifetime's correspondence, in later years even collecting his letters from friends so that he could consign them to the flames.

    This course links the complexities of Brahms the man with the electrifying music of Brahms the composer through biographical information and musical commentary.

    An Independent Spirit

    Brahms had vowed early in life to be lonely but free. He never married, owned a home, held a job for more than a few years, or took on a commissioned piece.

    In art, he showed a similar independence of spirit. He believed in traditional musical genres and forms as challenges, not as hindrances to expressive freedom but as healthy sources of stimulation for his awesome artistic powers.

    Unlike, for example, Beethoven, Brahms did not reinvent his art repeatedly in response to personal emotional crises, but rather found his essential compositional voice while in his mid-20s, and developed it in more of an evolutionary than a revolutionary fashion.

    Symphonies and Other Gems

    You discover that with a perfectionist's fanatical zeal, Brahms wrote, rewrote, and ultimately destroyed more than 20 string quartets before publishing a pair of exceptionally exquisite pieces at the age of 40, breathing new life into the old bones of an exacting chamber-music form.

    You explore why Brahms took 21 years to complete his first symphony-immediately hailed as "Beethoven's Tenth"-and then produced three more in less than a decade.

    You find that Brahms single-handedly started a "second golden symphonic age" by inspiring such younger composers as Mahler, Bruckner, Sibelius, Elgar, and Dvorak to create symphonies of their own.

    Brahms found unique ways of combining rigor and formal complexity of older Classical and even Baroque genres and forms (sonata, theme and variations, rondo) with melodic inventiveness, harmonic sophistication, and expressive richness prized in the Romantic Age.

    Brahms's Early Life: Barroom Pianist

    Brahms was born in the red-light district of Hamburg on May 7, 1833. He began taking music lessons at age 4 and by age 8 showed great potential as a pianist. His parents hired him out to play in the bars and brothels of Hamburg.

    As a teenager, Brahms grew into a solitary young man who spent time composing music, giving lessons, and playing piano in respectable establishments. Brahms had grown to love and admire traditional German music and sound compositional technique, exemplified in the music of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.

    In his later teens, Brahms was exposed to Hungarian gypsy music and met a Hungarian refugee named Eduard Rimenyi. In 1853, Brahms and Rimenyi decided to go on tour and make contacts. Within seven months, Brahms met Joseph Joachim and Clara and Robert Schumann, all of whom would become close friends, and Brahms himself would be hailed as the future of German music.

    Brahms and the Schumanns

    Robert Schumann used his influence to have Brahms's first pieces published, including the Piano Sonata in C Major, the Piano Sonata in F# Minor, and the Eb Minor Scherzo, and Brahms returned to Hamburg to begin building his career.

    Robert's psychotic breakdown called Brahms back to the Schumann household in 1854. He stayed there to offer emotional support to Clara and began work on a violent, angst-filled piece that would eventually become his Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor.

    Brahms and Clara fell in love, but Brahms was unable to act on his feelings, even after Robert's death in the summer of 1856.

    Brahms as Wanderer

    For the next several years, Brahms took various appointments and traveled but refused to commit himself to a long-term professional position. His Piano Concerto in D Minor was premiered in Leipzig in 1859, with disastrous results.

    He finally stumbled into a position as a choral conductor and composer in Hamburg that would prove to be the key to his musical maturity. By 1860, Brahms had achieved his mature compositional style. We see this combination in his Piano Quartet in G Minor from 1861.

    His mother died in 1864, leaving Brahms grief stricken but moved to compose his longest and perhaps most personal work, A German Requiem.

    Brahms, the String Quartet, and his Symphonic Nerve

    The years 1865-1870 were compositionally productive for Brahms, but he was still terrified at the prospect of writing a symphony. He occupied himself almost exclusively with vocal music, writing, among many other works, the "Cradle Song," probably his most recognized piece, and the magnificent German Requiem.

    In 1871, Brahms accepted the position of Director of the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna, where he was free to study and conduct the music he chose, including that of Handel, Bach, and Beethoven, along with Mendelssohn and Schumann.

    After seven years of concentrating on vocal music, Brahms again turned to orchestral composition, producing his Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn and the String Quartets in C Minor and A Minor.

    In 1875, Brahms resigned his directorship, freeing himself to complete his Symphony No. 1 in C Minor. Brahms's First Symphony is a brilliant example of his synthesis of Romantic melody, harmony, and spirit with Classical discipline and formal structures.

    During this period, Brahms was rich and famous, comfortably ensconced in the artistic life of Vienna, and producing one genuine masterwork after another, including his Second Symphony, the Violin Concerto in D Major, and the monumental Piano Concerto No. 2 in Bb Major.

    The Final Years

    As Brahms reached his 50s he was still producing prodigious amounts of music. His Third and Fourth Symphonies come from this period, along with songs, sonatas, a Trio in C Major, and the Double Concerto for Violin and 'Cello.

    When his lifelong friend Clara Schumann died in 1896, Brahms was devastated. His own health deteriorated, and he died of liver cancer in 1897.

    "His legacy to us is a lifetime of extraordinary craft and artistic beauty without an inferior piece in the collection," notes Professor Greenberg.

    Some of the Works you'll find excerpted in the lectures:

    Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 77 (1878)
    Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15, (1859)
    A German Requiem, Op. 45 (1865)
    Horn Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40 (1865)
    Songs, Op. 49, Wiegenlied (Cradle Song) (1868)
    Symphony No. 1 in C Minor , Op. 68 (1876)
    Symphony No. 2 in D Major , Op. 73 (1877)
    Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83 (1881)
    Symphony No. 3 in F Major , Op. 90 (1883)
    Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98 (1885)
    Quintet for Strings in G Major , Op. 111 (1890)
    Waltz, Op. 39, No. 15, (1865)
    Quartet for Four Voices and Piano, Neckereien (Teasing), Op. 31, No. 2, (1859)
    Serenade in D Major , Op. 11 (1858)
    Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a (1873)
    String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1 (1873)

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: LR09280141
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    Musically, Liszt (1811-1886) is one of the most written about but least understood composers of the 19th century. As for his life, perhaps a good place to begin is with Felix Mendelssohn's observation that Liszt's character was "a continual alternation between scandal and apotheosis."

    "Scandal and apotheosis"? What could that possibly mean? Join music professor Robert Greenberg for these lectures to be carried away on a fascinating journey in search of the truth about both. "Franz Liszt, Both Sides Now," you might call it.

    "Liszto-mania!" or A Portrait of the Artist as Hero

    More than anyone before him-more than Beethoven, Byron, even the preternatural Paganini-it was Liszt who created one of the most enduring archetypes of the Romantic era: that of the artist "who walks with God and brings down fire from heaven in order to kindle the hearts of humankind."

    After experiencing Professor Greenberg's lectures, you will know-really know-what "Liszto-mania" (that's an actual term used by Liszt's contemporaries, not just the title of a quirky Ken Russell movie) is all about.

    You'll learn why it made sense to so many at the time, and why it drove others, Brahms and his friend Clara Schumann among them, up the proverbial wall.

    Liszt was without a doubt the greatest pianist of his time, and may well be the greatest of all time. Traveling arduously all over Europe on mail coaches, playing whatever instrument was available in whatever hall he could find, he stunned even the most jaded critics and listeners everywhere he went with his sheer virtuosity and almost unbelievable musical gifts.

    Two Sides of a Virtuoso

    Liszt was an innovative composer both for his own instrument and on an orchestral scale, a visionary about the future of art, a big-hearted developer of young talent who frequently taught for no pay, and a sincere lover of gypsy freedom as well as Franciscan faith and charity.

    Liszt also had many sides to his personal life. He was a lover of adulation and women, sleeping with everyone from countesses and princesses to wild-eyed young groupies; a well-meaning but absent and rather indifferent father to three out-of-wedlock children; and a Hungarian patriot who spent most of his time in Paris, Germany, and Rome.

    Additionally, Liszt was a self-conscious artiste, damaging his own reputation by insisting on publishing just about every piece of music that came from his pen and a proud meritocrat from peasant stock who nonetheless had a weakness for what struck some observers as pseudo-aristocratic posturing.

    The Gypsy Franciscan

    On stage-he was the first pianist ever to play a solo concert-he was a shameless showoff. But he had the talent to display, and this attention-loving side of Liszt was inseparable from his apotheosis as a veritable deity of the keyboard who could sight-read even the most difficult and illegible score with the pages turned upside down-all the while playing the piece flawlessly and commenting on it as he played!

    As Professor Greenberg observes, Liszt would hardly have reached "legend" status if his chosen instrument had been the oboe.

    As Liszt himself said of his zest for living, "In life one must decide whether to conjugate the verb to have or the verb to be."

    For all his reputation (much of it very well earned indeed) as a lady-killer, a high-society bon vivant, and something of a 19th-century rock star, Liszt was also a man of warm, heartfelt Catholic piety and moving personal generosity.

    He held many benefit concerts-among his causes were building a monument to Beethoven and flood relief in Hungary-and the stories of his acts of kindness are legion.

    Liszt: A Brief Biography

    Liszt was born into a musical family in 1811. His father, Adam, recognized his musical gifts when Franz was about 5 and gave him piano lessons. The family moved to Vienna when Franz was 11 to continue his musical education. In a subsequent tour of Europe, nobles, stunned by the prodigy's abilities, offered letters of introduction to the next stop on the tour.

    Finally, the Liszt family landed in Paris, where Franz performed almost non-stop. The aristocrats of the city loved Franz, and he absorbed their language, culture, and sophistication. During these years, Liszt wrote his Etudes en douze exercices, which he would rewrite as the Grand Etudes in 1838 and as the Transcendental Etudes in 1851.

    After his father died in 1827 and a nervous breakdown over the ending of a love affair, he stopped practicing the piano and did not write any music. For three years, he was depressed, ill, and apathetic. Finally, the July Revolution of 1830 in Paris blasted Liszt out of his lethargy and reignited his creative energies.

    After the revolution, Liszt became a popular figure at Parisian salons and met Nicolo Paganini and Hector Berlioz, two men who would help shape his vision of himself as a composer and pianist.

    In 1847, Liszt met Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, who would become his soulmate and mistress. Liszt took up conducting and composing for the orchestra in Weimar, ultimately turning out his "symphonic poems" and Faust and Dante symphonies.

    After flirting with the priesthood following the deaths of two children, Liszt's final years were filled with music, traveling, honors, and a few disappointments. He divided his living arrangements among Rome; Weimar, where he taught extensively; and Budapest, where he was honored as a national hero. He died of a heart attack on July 31, 1886.

    "A Talented Humbug"?

    Some critics, then and now, have felt that Liszt, while incomparable at the keyboard, was derivative and seriously uneven as a composer. The conductor Hermann Levi even called him "a talented humbug."

    Professor Greenberg weighs this charge, explains its grounds (as we have seen, Liszt, unlike Brahms, did tend to publish indiscriminately), and then shows you-concretely and with specific examples from Liszt's works-the grounds for his own belief about the merits of this claim.

    What is the truth about Liszt as a composer? Does he belong in the first flight with Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart? How should his avant-garde risk-taking-his invention of the "symphonic poem," for instance-affect his reputation?

    And how should Liszt's truly extraordinary performance innovations affect our answer?

    Works by Liszt Excerpted in These Lectures:

    Etude in Twelve Exercises, No. 10 in F Minor (1826)
    Grande Fantasie de Bravoure sur La Clochette, variations (1832)
    Transcendental Etude No. 10 in F Minor (1851)
    Totentanz (1849, revised 1853-1859)
    Sonata in B Minor for Piano (1853)
    Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major (1849, revised 1861)
    Faust Symphony (1854)
    Mephisto Waltz No. 1 (1860)
    Christus (1866)
    Hungarian Rhapsody No. 19 in D Minor (1885)
    Transcendental Etude No. 8, Wilde Jagd ( Wild Chase ) (1838/1851)
    Variation on a Theme by Diabelli, (1822)
    Arrangement of "Scaffold March" from Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique (1833)
    Divertissement on the Cavatina " I tuoi frequenti palpiti " from Pacini's La Niobe (1833)
    Six Grand Etudes After Paganini No. 5, "The Chase" (1838/1851)
    Six Grand Etudes After Paganini, No. 3, "La Campanella" (1838/1851)
    Funerailles (1849)
    Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major (1849, revised 1856)
    Franciscan Legend No. 1 from St. Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds from Franciscan Legend (1863)

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: WB09280145
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    "I am thrice homeless, as a Bohemian in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, as a Jew throughout the world, everywhere an intruder, never welcomed."

    Thus spoke Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), composer, conductor, symphonist.

    To a greater degree than that of many other composers, the work of Gustav Mahler is a highly personal expression of his inner world, a world characterized by an overwhelming sense of alienation and loneliness.

  • Some of this feeling can be attributed to Mahler's Jewish heritage and his critics' response to it.
  • Part of his isolation began in childhood, a reaction to a brutal father and the loss of eight siblings, including his beloved brother Ernst.
  • In fact, the tension created by the mixture of Czech, Germanic, and Jewish culture of which Mahler was a part is one of the elements that makes his work so striking and powerful.

    Incredibly, Mahler was able to unite the diversity of his world and his often tortured emotional makeup into rich and original music.

    The First Generation of Expressionism

    This course offers a biographical and musical study of Mahler, who, along with being a composer, was the greatest opera conductor of his time.

    The symphonies of Mahler, a titan of post-Romantic musical history, are vast musical repositories of his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual expression. His work constitutes the first generation of expressionism, the early 20th-century art movement that celebrates inner reality as the only reality.

    Unlike other expressionist composers, however, Mahler used the musical language of the 19th century to explore expressive themes very "20th century" in their nature.

    These lectures on Mahler bring to life this complex, anxiety-bound visionary, whose continual search for perfection and the answers to life's mysteries is so profoundly reflected in his symphonies and songs. These lectures also include more than a dozen excerpts from Mahler's symphonies and other works.

    "Pure, Crystalline, Overwhelming Passion" Tempered by Artistic Control

    "I might suggest that we find Mahler's music so unbelievably moving today because its angst; its uncontrollable extroversion, optimism, and pessimism; its sheer power and often schizophrenic emotional progressions are even more relevant to us than to the music's original audience," states Professor Robert Greenberg.

    "Mahler's music is a mixture of brilliant, rich, irregularly changing harmonies; of extraordinary (often grotesque) juxtapositions of moods: tragedy, humor, farce, irony; constant, almost obsessive melodic activity; sudden, unexpected explosions of passion or rage that disappear as quickly as they come; strutting march music heard back-to-back with Viennese love music; and a pure, crystalline, overwhelming passion untempered by the "civilizing" effect of artistic control and manipulation."

    Mahler's Inner Landscape
    As a child, Mahler built a fantasy world to which he retreated as a defense against abuse and loneliness. This ability to retreat reveals itself in the highly personal inner landscapes of Mahler's music. From the time he was quite young, he was entranced by music and became devoted to the piano from about the age of five.

    From the beginning of his compositional career to its end, from Songs of a Wayfarer (1885) to The Song of the Earth ( Das Lied von der Erde ) (1909), Mahler's music is about himself, the lonely, isolated individual. He used his compositions as an outlet, a coping tool. Through his music, Mahler coped with some of the deepest issues of life:

  • romantic rejection ( Songs of a Wayfarer, 1885)
  • the struggle between hope and despair (Symphony No. 1, 1888)
  • the questions raised by death and redemption (Symphony No. 2, 1894)
  • the relationship between the individual and nature (Symphony No. 3, 1896)
  • the deaths of children ( Kindertotenlieder, 1904)
  • the grieving process (Symphony No. 5, 1902).

    He Never Heard His Masterpiece Performed

    In later life, the death of Mahler's elder daughter, Maria, in 1907-along with his resignation from the Royal Viennese Opera and the diagnosis of heart disease-was the beginning of the end for him. Maria, Mahler's favorite, lingered for two weeks. The pain of her illness was almost unbearable for him. Apparently, Mahler never spoke to anyone about the death of his daughter. He even forbade his wife from wearing mourning clothes.

    However, in 1908, Mahler threw himself into composing Das Lied von der Erde as his only solace from the grief of his daughter's death. Das Lied von der Erde is a symphonic song cycle, consisting of six songs. Mahler arranged the songs to create a progressive drama about loss, grief, memory, disintegration, and, ultimately, transfiguration.

    Das Lied von der Erde tells-from an idealized past in which all things are possible, back to the deadened emotions of the present, and beyond-the bittersweet realization that although life is reborn endlessly, there is no rebirth for the individual.

    This song cycle doesn't really end. It expires. It hangs on a dissonance that never resolves. All pain is gone, all individuality is lost, and we are left with a feeling of awesome, profound acceptance and resignation to the inevitable.

    Das Lied von der Erde is considered one of Mahler's great masterpieces, but he did not live to hear it performed. It was premiered seven months after his death.

    Not a Composer of Operas, but a Brilliant Conductor of Them

    Although we know him for his compositions, Mahler first made a name for himself first as a conductor. He started out conducting operettas and worked his way up to conducting at the Royal Vienna Opera, the New York Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic.

    His performances were almost magical for his audiences and he ultimately achieved critical acclaim as one of the greatest conductors in musical history.

    His conducting career was nevertheless marked by difficulties. He tyrannized the performers and fought with theater management. The anti-Semitic press-particularly in Vienna-continued to attack him with ferocity.

    And, Mahler, the greatest opera conductor of his time-perhaps the greatest of all time-wrote no operas.

    "His symphonies are his operas," says Professor Greenberg. "They are his all-inclusive art works; his universal statements about life, death, love, redemption, religion, God, nature, resignation, and the human condition in all its glory and folly."

    Experience Music that Defines Its Creator

    "As you follow these lectures, you'll find yourself using not only the facts you learn but your own powers of imagination, intuition, and instinct to uncover this music's inner workings," says Professor Greenberg.

    "You will find Mahler's symphonies are unique. No other body of work, by any composer, traverses such expressive range, so brilliantly combines absolute orchestral/symphonic music with vocal music, so clearly and profoundly define their creator, and are so honestly and deeply felt."

    Mahler's Works

    Mahler's musical selections that you hear excerpted for discussion in this course are:
  • Das klagende Lied (1878)
  • Symphony No. 1 (1888)
  • St. Anthony of Padua Preaches to the Fishes, from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1893) Symphony No. 2 (1894)
  • Songs of a Wayfarer, No. 2: Ging heut` Morgen ubers Feld (1884; orchestrated 1896)
  • Symphony No. 3 (1896)
  • Symphony No. 4 (1900)
  • Symphony No. 5 (1902)
  • Symphony No. 6 (1904)
  • Symphony No. 7 (1905)
  • Symphony No. 8 (1907)
  • Das Lied von der Erde (1909)
  • Symphony No. 9 (1910)

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: TA09280146
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    He composed his first symphony at the age of 8. His middle name means "loved of God." And Austrian Emperor Joseph II accused his music of having "too many notes."

    This course is a biographical and musical study of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), who composed more than 600 works of beauty and brilliance in just over 20 years.

    According to Professor Robert Greenberg, Mozart's music combined the pure lyricism of song with dramatic timing, depth of expression, and technical mastery of the complexities of phrase structure and harmony that allowed him to create a body of work unique in the repertoire.

    Will the Real Wolfgang Please Stand Up?

    And his personal life has generated nearly as much interest as his music. Who was Mozart? Was he the fair-haired boy-divinity of 19th-century Romanticism? Was he indeed the horse-laughing idiot of recent theater and cinema? Was he borderline autistic or musical freak?

    Was he an artistic traditionalist working happily within Haydn-defined Classicism? A social and musical rebel at war with a patronage system?

    What did his contemporaries think of his music? Why was he so passionate about writing operas? How did he view his audience, his patrons, and his fellow composers? Does any of his music reflect his own moods or states of mind?

    Who and what were the crucial influences in his life and his art? And how did he really die?

    You learn about Mozart's:
  • journey from youthful prodigy to posthumous deification
  • vexing relationship with his father
  • tours to London and Paris
  • struggles for a successful career
  • marriage to Constanze Weber
  • triumphs and disappointments in Vienna
  • relationships with key figures such as Haydn, Emperor Joseph II, and Lorenzo da Ponte.

    "Much of today's Mozart scholarship is about debunking myths," says Professor Greenberg. "One of the reasons for the Mozart mythology is the fact that few responsible accounts of Mozart's life and personality were written during his lifetime. Much was written years after his death.

    "Mozart's extraordinary, prodigious talent also fueled the notion that he was some kind of freak. At the heart of the Mozart mythology is the otherworldliness of his music. His middle name, Amadeus, 'loved of God,' also helped to imbue him with a God-like image.

    "The goal of these lectures is to show Mozart to be a person: a talented, hard-working, ambitious man who had friends and enemies and whose music was subject to criticism in his own day."

    Mozart's Early Life: Young Apprentice and a Domineering Father

    The reality is that Mozart, like any other composer, served an apprenticeship. What is extraordinary is that Mozart's apprenticeship began at such a tender age; he wrote his first symphony at the age of 8 and was a mature composer by the age of 20, when most other composers are just beginning their training.

    He had an extraordinary memory and an ability to compose whole symphonies in his head. He worked extremely hard, frequently to the point of exhaustion-often at breakneck speed, amid squadrons of distractions, and without putting pen to paper until every last note of a new work had been composed in his head.

    Mozart's early life was dominated by his father. Leopold Mozart counted on his children's musical talents to bring him the fame and fortune he could not earn for himself. The grand tour of 1763-1766 made the Mozart family the sensation of Europe and turned the small, fragile, desperate-to-please Wolfgang into an international celebrity and the family's main breadwinner.

    Mozart learned his craft by absorbing the music of the best composers of his day: Johann Christian Bach (eleventh son of Johann Sebastian Bach) and the legendary Franz Joseph Haydn. By the time of Mozart's second visit to Paris in 1777 at age 21, his own original genius was emerging.

    Mozart's second trip to Paris was a disaster. His mother died there, he failed to find a position, he had no money, and his domineering father was interfering with his life to a degree he now found intolerable.

    Settling in Vienna: A Soaring Genius

    In 1781, Mozart settled in Vienna, an exciting place to live and work for artists at that time thanks to the reforms of Emperor Joseph II. He married Constanze Weber against the wishes of his father; Leopold withheld Mozart's wedding dowry and later disinherited his son.

    Mozart's genius soared. He reached the peak of his career in Vienna in 1782-1786. At this point, his piano concerti were his main source of income. Then, beginning in 1786, he collaborated with the great librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte on three of the repertoire's finest operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte.

    By the late 1780s, however, Mozart's popularity in Vienna was on the wane. His music had always had its critics-those who thought it too difficult, complex, or contrived.

    "Mozart never attempted to compromise his musical integrity just to please the masses," notes Professor Greenberg. "Even his so-called entertainment' music is stamped with his inimitable and complex genius."

    His politically controversial opera, The Marriage of Figaro, did not help further his career in Vienna. Masterpiece though it is, it deeply offended the Viennese aristocracy.

    "Mozart was, in essence, biting the hand that fed him," says Professor Greenberg.

    Mozart continued to pour out one masterwork after another, the expressive content rarely hinting at his unhappy circumstances.

    The Final Years: The Magic Flute and a Requiem Mass

    In 1790 Mozart's health began to deteriorate and he became depressed. That year, he wrote very little of significance. His creative recovery in early 1791 was inexplicable. The compositions of that year culminated in the great Masonic opera, The Magic Flute.

    By the end of the year, he was working on a Requiem Mass, anonymously commissioned by a nobleman who liked to pass off others' compositions as his own. The Requiem remained unfinished at Mozart's death on December 5, 1791.

    Myths and speculation ,surround the cause of Mozart's death. The most famous myth is that he was poisoned by the Italian composer Antonio Salieri who, while a patient in an insane asylum decades later, claimed that he had done the dastardly deed. The most likely theory is that Mozart died from acute rheumatic fever and a stroke brought on by excessive bloodletting-at the age of 35.

    A Wide Selection of Excerpts from The Great Masters

    Mozart wrote more than 600 compositions, whose standard numbering comes from the catalogue listing first published in 1862 by Ludwig von Kochel. Among those excerpted:

  • Eine kleine Nachtmusick, K.525 (1787)
  • Don Giovanni, K. 527 (1787)
  • Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 (1785)
  • String Quartet in C, K. 465 ["Dissonant"] (1785)
  • The Magic Flute, K. 620 (1791)
  • Serenade in D Major, K. 320 ["Posthorn"] (1779)
  • Cosi fan tutte, K. 588 (1789)
  • Flute Concerto in D, K. 314/320d (1777)
  • Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat, K. 456 (1785)
  • Ein Musikalischer Spass, K. 522 (1787)
  • Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra, K. 364/320d (1779)
  • The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492 (1786)
  • String Quintet in C Major, K. 515 (1787)
  • Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 (1788)
  • Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543 (1788)
  • Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 ["Jupiter"] (1788)
  • Requiem Mass, K. 626 (1791) (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: JM09280148
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    In this course by Professor Robert Greenberg you meet the Schumanns-brilliant, gifted, troubled, and unique in the history of music.

    Robert Schumann (1810-1856) and his wife Clara Wieck Schumann (1819-1896) have earned a distinct place in the annals of Western music. As a couple with a two-career marriage-he as a pioneering critic and composer, she as one of the leading concert pianists of Europe-they were highly exceptional in their own time though they seem very contemporary in ours.

    Great Critic, Great Composer-Coupled with a Great Pianist

    Robert Schumann is unique by virtue of being the only great composer who was also a great critic. His contributions to the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik (New Journal for Music), the periodical he founded in 1834, made him far better known originally as a writer than composer. It also gave him a platform from which he could champion the Romantic ideas that informed his own works and recognize the geniuses of his time, including Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Franz Liszt.

    The Zeitschrift would go down in history as one of the most important periodicals in the musical 19th century. Robert was its leading voice for 10 years, until depression and ill health led him to sell it in 1844. When he returned to print again nine years later it was a memorable occasion, for he broke his long silence to hail the gifts of a brilliant but thus far unknown young composer from Hamburg named Johannes Brahms.

    This essay proved a mixed blessing for Brahms, but it clearly showed the quality of Robert's critical judgment. It came at the beginning of a close friendship between Brahms and the Schumann family. This friendship endured through the difficult years when Clara had to concertize continually to support her children after Robert's death-a story that Professor Greenberg details in his Great Masters lectures on the life and music of Brahms.

    Clara, the only woman who is a subject of the Great Masters series, was one of the most famous pianists and acclaimed touring musicians in Europe at a time when women of her class were rarely encouraged to pursue careers outside the home.

    She was also a composer of no small talent, though her family commitments and touring schedule kept her from developing her compositional gifts as fully as she might have. The songs that she did compose with Robert's encouragement show great promise, however. During this lecture series you will hear two of Clara's songs as well as one of her piano works.

    An Extraordinary Marriage

    Clara was the only daughter of Friedrich Wieck, a tyrannical yet innovative piano teacher. His methods may have caused the crippling hand injury that ended Robert's own dreams of becoming a piano virtuoso and caused him to turn decisively toward writing and composing as his way of making an impact on the art of his time.

    Clara first met her future husband when he was 18 and she was only 9. The two fell in love when Robert was 25 and she was 16-five years after her public-performance debut on the stage of the Gewandhaus in her native Leipzig.

    After a dramatic, intrigue-filled courtship that included smuggled letters, secret meetings, and a lawsuit brought by Clara against her outraged father, the couple would marry when Robert was 30 and Clara was a day short of her 21st birthday.

    Their alliance would result in eight children and was a loving one, though not without its tensions-Clara had been raised to be a star on the concert stage, not a conventional wife and mother, and Robert did not always find it comfortable to be the husband of a woman whose fame and earning power exceeded his own, or to endure the slights he sometimes received while making the concert rounds with her.

    And Clara was not only the main breadwinner of a growing family, but the wife of an emotionally unstable man who alternated between manic bouts of awesome creativity (he once wrote an entire symphony in four days) and terrifying fits of depression, exacerbating the worsening effects of the syphilis that would eventually kill him.

    Triumph Amid Adversity

    Despite his illness and instability, Robert Schumann triumphed over adversity by leaving behind a magnificent legacy of compositions and insights into music that you will explore in these lectures.

    He began as a writer of exquisite, often literature-inspired works for piano or piano and voice such as Papillons (1831), Carnaval (1835), Arabesque (1839), and Frauenliebe und Leben (1840). He succeeded, with Clara's indispensable encouragement, in combining his taste for "program music" (i.e., instrumental works inspired by and intended to bring literature to life) with the strict compositional technique and abstract content required to write chamber and orchestral music-the kind of "stand-alone" works that critics call "absolute music."

    Thus Robert was able, in the wonderful "symphonic year" of 1841, to step out from beneath the long shadow cast by Beethoven's symphonies and make his own mark in this form with his First Symphony in B-flat Major, to be followed by three more by 1851.

    In the second half of 1842, Robert turned his energies to chamber music and produced three string quartets as well as a piano quartet and piano quintet, all of which remain among the most enduring works in the chamber repertoire.

    Music was, for the Romantic 19th century, truly the ultimate art form, and Robert Schumann, according to Professor Greenberg, represents its Romantic quintessence.

    "Of all the early Romantic composers, it is Robert Schumann even more than Hector Berlioz whose music stands as the quintessence of the Romantic ideal-an art that combines music and literary storytelling in pursuit of the fullest possible degree of expression. It tended to strike contemporaries (including, in this case, even Schumann's own wife, Clara) with its originality, its personal character, and its willingness to test aesthetic limits."

    Musical Excerpts You Will Hear

    Robert Schumann's Works

    Among the musical selections in this course are excerpts from the following works:

  • Papillons ("Butterflies"), Op. 2 (1831)
  • Carnaval, Op. 9 (1835)
  • Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major ("Spring"), Op. 38 (1841)
  • Piano Quintet in E-flat, Op. 44 (1842)
  • Das Paradies und die Peri ("Paradise and the Peri"), oratorio (1843)
  • Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 (1845)
  • Concert Piece for Four Horns and Orchestra, Op. 86 (1849)
  • Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97, "Rhenish" (1850)
  • An Anna, song (1828)
  • Symphony in G Minor, WoO 29, "Zwickau" (1832)
  • Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838)
  • Arabesque, Op. 18 (1839)
  • Frauenliebe und Leben ("Woman's Love and Life"), Op. 42 (1840)
  • Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61 (1846)
  • Theme in E-flat Major (1854)

    Clara Schumann's Works
  • Walzer (1834)
  • Soirees Musicales, Op. 6 (1836)
  • Am Strand ("Musing on the Roaring Ocean") (1840)

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: NS09280157
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    Discover the extraordinary life, times, and art of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), great musical master and flawed but faithful witness to the survival of the human spirit under totalitarianism.

    He is without a doubt one of the absolutely central composers of the 20th century. His symphonies and string quartets are mainstays of the repertoire.

    But Shostakovich is also a figure whose story raises challenging and exciting issues that go far beyond music itself and touch on questions of conscience, of the moral role of the artist, of the plight of humanity in the face of total war and mass oppression, and of the inner life of history's bloodiest century.

    A Soviet Impression

    The Bolshevik Revolution took place when Dmitri Shostakovich was a boy of 11. His life and career from then on coincided with, and in a sense mirrored, the rise, tortured life, and eventual failure of the Soviet communist regime.

    The premise of Professor Greenberg's approach to this giant among 20th-century composers is that nothing he said publicly about his music ("for official Soviet consumption") should be taken at face value. He lived the great bulk of his career under Stalin, and he knew what that meant. He had seen friends taken away in the purges, never to return.

    The crucial aspect on Shostakovich's career, argues Professor Greenberg, is defined by his posthumous book of reminiscences, Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, a volume based on a series of extraordinarily frank private interviews that the composer gave to a young Soviet musicologist named Solomon Volkov.

    In them, Shostakovich makes clear that he was no hero or martyr-as a friend said, "he did not want to rot in a prison or a graveyard"but also shows that at the same time he was never willing to become a docile instrument of the Soviet regime.

    Shostakovich speaks through his music, which bears messages from a buried life of his experiences during the terror of Stalin, the Nazi destruction of his country, post-war reconstruction, and the arms race. To decode these messages, you study a mix of biographical information intertwined with numerous musical excerpts from the composer's work.

    You learn to hear how, in work after work, often composed under circumstances of crushing difficulty and anxiety, Shostakovich used a brilliant arsenal of ironic juxtapositions (a piping piccolo theme in a symphony supposed to "apotheosize" Stalin, for instance), musical quotes from such un-Soviet sources as American jazz or Jewish klezmer tunes, and other techniques to assert the integrity of his art in the face of totalitarian oppression, and to pay what he once called "homage to the dead."

    Professor Greenberg provides careful, gripping accounts of the political circumstances amid which Shostakovich composed his masterworks-meaning above all his 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets.

    Shostakovich: Portrait of the Artist as Witness and Survivor

    The flood of declassified material that has come pouring out of old Soviet archives since 1991 is a rich resource for these lectures. The tale that this material tells is a harrowing one, but it is one from which we cannot afford to look away, notes Professor Greenberg.

    Certainly, he says, we will never understand Shostakovich unless and until we come to grips with it, for only by knowing this awful history can we hope to grasp anything even approaching "the full and true meaning of the art that this frail, fearful, and outwardly timid but inwardly resolute genius has bequeathed to us, his fortunate posterity."

    "Unlike the other musical biographies that I have created for the program, this one-Shostakovich's-will have more than its share of controversy," says Professor Greenberg. "There are two reasons for this:

    "The first is simple enough: Having died fairly recently, and having composed major works almost to the end of his life, Shostakovich is a very 'fresh' figure. We are still coming to terms with his enormously influential compositional output-particularly his symphonies and string quartets, works which are so central to the contemporary repertoire.

    "The second reason for the controversy is far more complicated: Shostakovich was a Soviet artist, and the Soviet state used his music as a tool. Art and politics make strange and problematic bedfellows. But they are a coupling that we cannot possibly avoid if we are to talk about Dmitri Shostakovich and his music. These lectures, then, tell the story of a man and his art, a place and a political system, all of them truly indivisible from one another."

    Shostakovich knew Stalin personally and was singled out for criticism by him. Shostakovich was not just the single most important composer of string quartets and symphonies from the 1920s to the 1970s but a witness to the rise and failure of Soviet communism, perhaps the defining event of the 20th century.

    Biography Presented in Detail

    Among what you learn about Shostakovich's life is:

  • After the condemnation of his music by Stalin in 1936, Shostakovich never left home without soap and a toothbrush, so convinced was he that he would be arrested.
  • He included a special set of notes representing a "musical signature" in many of his works.
  • The Quintet for Piano and Strings in G Minor of 1940 comments on the official Soviet preference for upbeat, "accessible" music by sandwiching a movement that quotes the bumptious theme associated with Russian circus clowns between movements that brilliantly pay tribute to J. S. Bach.
  • Shostakovich loved Jewish music-especially klezmer because of the way it combines joyfulness with despair. Defying Soviet anti-Semitism, he "quoted"
  • Jewish music in works such as 1944's Piano Trio in E Minor, wrote a song cycle called From Jewish Poetry (1948), and famously memorialized the plight of persecuted and murdered Jews in his "Babi Yar" Symphony of 1962.
  • The brutal and vicious second-movement scherzo of the magnificent 10th Symphony was written that way because it was intended as a musical portrait, "roughly speaking," of the recently deceased Josef Stalin.

    Enjoy Excerpts from Shostakovich's Works

    Among the musical selections in this course are excerpts from the following works:

  • Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1929)
  • Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Op.29, opera (1930-32)
  • Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47 (1937)
  • String Quartet No. 1 in C Major, Op. 49 (1938)
  • Quintet for Piano and Strings in G Minor, Op. 57 (1940)
  • Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60, "Leningrad" (1941)
  • Piano Trio in E Minor, Op. 67 (1944)
  • String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73 (1946)
  • String Quartet No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 92 (1952)
  • Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93 (1953)
  • String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 108 (1960)
  • Symphony No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 113, "Babi Yar" (1962)
  • String Quartet No.10 in A-flat Major, Op. 118 (1964)
  • String Quartet No. 15 in E-flat Minor, Op. 144 (1974).

    An Artist for Humanity

    When Dmitri Shostakovich died in Moscow on December 9, 1975, he was "hailed as a hero of the people,'" says Professor Greenberg, "but we know him as a survivor, a witness, and an artist who spoke for all of humanity."

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: VJ09280150
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    When it comes to creative longevity, brilliance across a range of styles, and near-universal fame, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) is nearly unrivaled among 20th-century artists.

    As told by Professor Robert Greenberg, Stravinsky's career is a dizzying, enthralling progression across the miles and the decades from fin de siecle Czarist Russia to Southern California in the 1960s.

    It features styles ranging from nationalism and impressionism to fauvism, neoclassicism, and the 12-tone ultra-serialism of Anton Webern and Alban Berg.

    Professor Greenberg presents this long-lived master of musical creativity as a one-man compendium of people, places, compositional styles, and techniques, his life and music a virtual artistic history of the West from the 1890s to the late 1960s.

    Even a partial list of Stravinsky's friends and collaborators reads like a "who's who" of 20th-century Western culture: not only Picasso but Rimsky-Korsakov, Diaghilev, Njinsky, Balanchine, Puccini, Erik Satie, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Jean Cocteau, Dylan Thomas, Nicholas Nabokov, Paul Klee, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden, Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot and Walt Disney, Edward G. Robinson, Charlie Chaplin, Woody Herman even Zsa Zsa Gabor(!).

    Among other things, then, these lectures on Stravinsky will give you a sense of the kaleidoscopic changes in musical expression that took place during the first 70 years of the 20th century.

    From Nationalism to Modernism and Beyond

    Stravinsky began as a 19th-century musical nationalist. He was privileged to receive the benefits of an upper-middle-class Russian upbringing in St. Petersburg, where he was born in 1882.

    In this city at the turn of the 20th century, the young and impressionable Stravinsky was exposed to an amazing, kaleidoscopic interweaving of Western and Eastern European cultures.

    His was a musical family. His father, Fyodor, was a professional opera singer, considered one of the great bass-baritones of his day.

    By his late teens, Stravinsky's interest in music had developed into an ambition to become a composer, despite the fact that he had not, to that point of his life, demonstrated any exceptional musical talent.

    Certainly, his potential was not recognized by the eminent Russian composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, when Stravinsky approached him for lessons in 1902.

    Rimsky-Korsakov's opinion changed dramatically, however, when he heard Stravinsky's Piano Sonata in F Sharp Minor of 1904. The work gained Stravinsky a powerful ally and influential teacher in that great Russian master.

    Between 1904 and 1909, Stravinsky developed his compositional technique and style, absorbing a diversity of musical influences.

    During this period, Stravinsky married his cousin Katya, who would prove an invaluable support to her husband during these musically formative and professionally difficult years.

    The Rite-and Riot-of Spring

    Stravinsky's audiences enjoyed his highly successful music for The Firebird and his next ballet, Petrushka, but they could not have anticipated what would come next.

    Stravinsky's music for The Rite of Spring was like nothing he or any other composer had written before it. To convey the sense of the ballet's primitive, earthy, and sexual theme, Stravinsky had to forge a new musical language.

    The resultant ballet score caused one of the most celebrated scandals in music history. At The Rite's Paris premiere on May 29, 1913, the audience broke into a riot.

    "This music still sounds 'modern' almost a century after its first performance," states Professor Greenberg.

    You learn why the Rite is one of the 20th century's two most important musical compositions.

    Stravinsky After 1918: Seeking "More Humane" Times

    Appalled by the horrors of World War I, Stravinsky, after 1918, couched his modernistic impulses in the musical styles of seemingly simpler, "more humane" times.

    From the 1920s on, he was drawn as well by the energy of ragtime, tango, and big-band jazz, writing pieces in all these popular idioms. In 1925 he made a highly successful tour of several U.S. cities, conducting his own works.

    Through the end of the 1920s, Stravinsky continued to produce music that filtered its modernisms through the lens of the musical past, such as the ballet Apollo Musagete of 1928 and The Symphony of Psalms of 1930. Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Symphony of Psalms is a deeply religious work, of the sort that Stravinsky had never written before.

    The works of the 1930s exhibited a neoclassical, or neotonal, style. These works included the Concerto in D for Violin and the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, among others.

    Soon his music was being attacked as "degenerate art" by the Nazis in Germany, and he suffered the multiple tragedies of the deaths of his daughter, Lyudmilla; his wife, Katya; and his mother.

    When World War II broke out in September 1939, Stravinsky and his girlfriend and soon-to-be second wife, Vera Sudeykin, settled in Los Angeles, where Stravinsky immediately became one of the city's most sought-after celebrities. His first major work composed in the United States was his 1945 "War Symphony," the Symphony in Three Movements. This was the year the Stravinskys became American citizens.

    Among other works Stravinsky wrote between 1945 and 1953 was the Ebony Concerto, written for Woody Herman's band. This work "objectifies" elements of jazz in the way that Ragtime for Eleven Wind Instruments had 20 years before.

    These years were perhaps the best of Stravinsky's life: he was happy and flourishing in both his private and his professional lives; financial hardship was a thing of the past.

    In 1948, Stravinsky befriended Robert Craft, a young conductor with a fanatical admiration for the older composer. Theirs became a highly unusual relationship in which Craft wrote diaries of his life as Stravinsky's aide and friend. Craft introduced Stravinsky to the 12-tone music of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern.

    A "Supreme Original"

    Finally and most astonishingly, at the age of 70, Stravinsky underwent yet another aesthetic metamorphosis, reinventing himself musically with pieces in the ultra-modern serialist style associated with composers one-third his age.

    Like Haydn and Beethoven in their later works, Stravinsky in his Agon (1957), Requiem Canticles (1966), and other late pieces attained a level of spirituality, clarity-and novelty-that would be stunning in a composer of any age, at any time.

    After the Stravinskys and Robert Craft returned from a landmark visit to Russia in 1962, Stravinsky's output began to slow down . By the late 1960s, Stravinsky was enjoying a level of celebrity and wealth rarely accorded a composer in his lifetime. His last public appearance was in 1967 and he died in 1971.

    "Stravinsky, without a doubt, was a supreme original," says Professor Greenberg. "We study him to see what, aside from the unaccountable gift of genius, made this originality possible. What are the artistic constants that run throughout his long career, gathering all its shifting currents into the main stream of greatness?

    "Diversity, synthesis, and reconciliation are the keys to Stravinsky's musical personality."

    Enjoy a Wide Selection of Excerpts

    Among the Stravinsky works you hear briefly excerpted are:

    The Firebird (1909)
    Petrushka (1911)
    The Rite of Spring (1912)
    Ragtime for Eleven Instruments (1918)
    Pulcinella (1919)
    Les Noces ["The Wedding"] (1923)
    Symphony of Psalms (1930)
    Concerto in D for Violin (1931) "Dumbarton Oaks" Concerto (1938) Symphony in C (1940)
    Symphony in Three Movements (1945)
    The Ebony Concerto (1953)
    Agon (1957)
    Requiem Canticles (1966)

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: YN09280153
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart


    Taught by Robert Greenberg

    The life of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) exhibits as close a linkage as you will find anywhere between an artist's inner world and the outward products of that artist's creative activity.

    As a man, Tchaikovsky was defined by and indivisible from his music, which became an outlet for all the shifting moods of his turbulent soul. As Professor Robert Greenberg says, "If Tchaikovsky felt it, it found a way into his music."

    As an artist-and it is worth recalling that he was the first full-time, formally trained, professional composer in Russian history-Tchaikovsky walked a fine and difficult line between his Romantic penchant for expression and the demands of Classical structure.

    This delicate balancing act-between heart and head, emotion and reason, release and control, "Russian" expressive content and "German" technique-is a key to his music that you find amply illustrated by Professor Greenberg's musical selections and commentary.

    A "Suitable" Profession

    "To know Tchaikovsky's music, we must be familiar with the details of his life, because his music, as his Sixth Symphony so abundantly demonstrates, is so often an intimate confession, a mirror of a personal life tormented by doubt and sexual anxiety," states Professor Greenberg.

    Tchaikovsky was an unusually sensitive child, with an abnormal dependency on his mother and an obsessive love of music.

    As a child of a 19th-century upper-class Russian family, however, Tchaikovsky's musical talent was not particularly encouraged.

    His parents had him educated for the more "suitable" profession of the civil service at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg.

    It was at school that Tchaikovsky discovered his homosexuality. It was also while still a schoolboy that Tchaikovsky lost his mother to cholera. Her death was a shattering experience for the 14-year-old Tchaikovsky and it found poignant expression in his later music.

    After Tchaikovsky graduated from the School of Jurisprudence, he was employed as a government clerk-but not for long. His obsession with music eventually won out and he entered the newly founded St. Petersburg Conservatory.

    He graduated in 1866 at the age of 26 and joined the teaching faculty at the likewise newly established Moscow Conservatory.

    In 1868, his First Symphony was premiered; it already possessed the hallmark of Tchaikovsky's musical style: formal Classical construction coupled with Romantic expression.

    Growing Success Plagued with Self-Doubt

    For the rest of his career, Tchaikovsky would successfully tread a fine line between Russian emotional excess and Germanic intellectual control. He was the only composer in Russia at that time who could combine the best of Western European technique with his own Russian heritage.

    Despite his growing musical success, Tchaikovsky remained prey to self-doubt about his compositional abilities, to bouts of severe depression, and to anxiety that his homosexuality would be publicly exposed.

    His sense of alienation seems to have turned him inward to a world of self-expression that he might not otherwise have discovered had he felt less isolated.

    Among the great works of the 1870s were the iconoclastic First Piano Concerto and the music for the ballet Swan Lake, which revolutionized the art and substance of ballet.

    Another masterwork was the opera Eugene Onegin of 1877. That year also saw Tchaikovsky's brief but disastrous marriage and the blossoming of his unique relationship with his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck.

    A Long-Distance Musical Relationship

    Nadezhda's devotion to Tchaikovsky and his music resulted in one of the strangest relationships in music history.

    She supported Tchaikovsky with the agreement that they would never meet, but only exchange letters.

    Her generosity enabled Tchaikovsky to leave his teaching post at the Moscow Conservatory in 1878 and concentrate on his compositional career.

    By the early 1880s, he had become an international celebrity.

    He conquered his fear of conducting and toured Europe promoting his own music.

    In 1890, however, he was devastated by the loss of his friendship with Nadezhda von Meck, who withdrew her financial support because of family problems.

    She also ceased to write letters to Tchaikovsky. He became embittered and began to age visibly.

    Nevertheless, in 1891, he undertook a highly successful conducting tour of the United States and, a year later, received an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University.

    Tchaikovsky's last years were filled with composing, traveling, performances of his music, and new friends, including mutual admirer Anton Chekhov.

    In late August 1893 Tchaikovsky completed his Sixth Symphony, which reveals a composer at the height of his power. Two months later, he lay dying of self-inflicted arsenic poisoning. His homosexual affair with a young nobleman had been discovered and it was in danger of becoming a public scandal.

    A group of former classmates of the School of Jurisprudence, calling themselves a "court of honor," had decided that Tchaikovsky was jeopardizing the reputation of their alma mater. They forced him to commit suicide.

    The public was told that he had died of cholera, a disease common at the time.

    "A Genius of Emotion"

    As was the case with Beethoven, the serious personal and psychological problems that plagued Tchaikovsky also profoundly enriched his music, opening up a font of expression that an equally talented but less troubled man might never have tapped.

    From the suffering of the man, then, came the triumph of the artist-a triumph without which we we would not have Swan Lake, the Serenade for Strings, or the "Pathetique" Symphony.

    Is this a sad irony, a thrilling testament to the transforming power of art, or perhaps both?

    Discover Overlooked Musical Gems

    Professor Greenberg points out that the essence of Tchaikovsky as a man and great artist is heard best in compositions which today are often overlooked because of the tremendous popularity of his more famous orchestral works and ballet scores.

    After taking this course, then, you will be among the relative few who know the true significance of such marvelous but underappreciated chamber pieces as the String Quartet No. 3 in E-flat Minor, Op. 30 .

    For it is in smaller, rarely heard works such as this that Tchaikovsky reveals himself, his world, and his experience with the most deeply moving personal intensity.

    Blending Fire and Passion: Remembering a Monumental Composer

    "Tchaikovsky's music remains an enduring monument to a man who was not only a great composer but also a highly popular composer," says Professor Greenberg.

    "He possessed the unique ability in his day to blend the fire and passion of Russian nationalism with Germanic compositional technique. He infused his music with a rare intensity of expression and a rich harmonic and melodic beauty that guarantee his place among the greatest contributors to the repertoire."

    Enjoy a Wide Selection of Excerpts

    Among Tchaikovsky's excerpted works are:

    Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 ["Winter Daydreams"] (1868)
    Six Songs, Op. 6, No. 6 ["None but the Lonely Heart"] (1869)
    String Quartet No. 1 in D, Op. 11 (1871)
    Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 17 ["Little Russian"] (1872)
    Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23 (1874)
    String Quartet No. 3 in E-flat Minor, Op. 30 (1876)
    Swan Lake, Op. 20 (1877)
    Eugene Onegin (1877)
    Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36 (1877)
    Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48 (1880)
    Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 ["Pathetique"] (1893)

    (8 lectures, 45 minutes/lecture)

    Item no.: GN09280154
    Format: 2 DVDs
    Duration: 360 minutes
    Price: USD 200.00

    [Go top]

    Add to cart

    ***Price on web-site may not be current and is subject to modification by quotation***

    Email :

    Websites :
    http://www.learningemall.com [ English ]
    http://www.learningemall.com.hk [ Chinese ]