This is a series of 32 lectures about Bach available on CD and DVD, as well as a download version. I’ve been listening for 3 weeks, and I’m including this review with eartaste because, well, the music is extremely tasty. I have long been a fan of Bach’s instrumental music and have well over 100 hours of his music handy in my collection. I have not been a huge fan of Baroque singing. My ears have simply never resonated that way.
The power of this series of lectures by Robert Greenberg is the fact that he has taught me to at least appreciate the singing, and even more deeply appreciate the instrumental music of Bach. I enjoyed Greenberg’s humor throughout, and learned much about Bach’s life that I had never taken the time to learn before. I can’t imagine a man with 10 growing children could accomplish much more than sweat to feed the kids. I sorta had a picture in my head of a man locked away in a monastery with a harpsichord, organ and violin. Greenberg managed to smash that false picture and turned Bach into a human who had to deal with changing clothes, washing dishes, etc.
My favorite part of the lectures was the explanation of where Bach came from musically. He’s always seemed to just “be there” for me, and I never thought much about his predecessors – what was it that made it possible for Bach to turn out all that beautiful music? Greenberg takes us back to medieval music and explores how Bach didn’t simply appear, but was a master synthesizer of many styles of music that were current; adding, of course, his own particular genius and mastery.
The courses are well-planned. They start with a general history, then move into in-depth analysis of several works. The last two sections are 4 lectures on St Matthew’s Passion, and 4 lectures on the Goldberg Variations. This gives Professor Greenberg plenty of time to teach me in detail a deeper enjoyment of the art of Bach than I ever had before.
If you visit the page and the course is not on sale, wait a month or two. All the teaching company courses come on sale several times a year. I personally do not know anyone who has ever paid “full price” for a course.
Bach and the High Baroque
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