Sunday, July 15, 2007

Robert Greenberg – The Symphony (Teaching Company)

A month or so ago I discussed another group of lectures by Professor Greenberg, Bach and the High Baroque. I enjoyed the lectures and felt well-educated, so I asked to hear more. The second series I listened to was 8 Concert Masterworks, with 4 lectures about each. I decided not to write about that series because it was pretty detailed. Interesting, but nothing I’d ever listen to again. But never say die.

The 24 lectures that make up The Symphony are excellent. Professor Greenberg presents these ‘lectures’ in a documentary style that educates while enjoying, amplifying one of my core beliefs – learning is fun when the presentation is fun. In one of the early lectures, Greenberg admits to wanting to be a DJ when he was growing up, and uses this opportunity to live his dream. Oh, sure, he talks about the composers and the times, but in a manner that makes listening easy. There are, however, good stretches of music to exemplify the words.

Here's a taste of the professor’s humor and style of delivery, “An amazing passage, in which four different rhythmic patterns are superimposed one atop each other creating an effect that is, for me, like four individual gamelan orchestras simultaneously performing different parts of Stravinksi’s ‘The Rite Of Spring’ after having consumed quadruple expressos spiked with Barcardi 151 and way too much sugar.” With teaching like this you can’t help but learn.

When I lived in a city I had season tickets to the Symphony many years in a row. While always an enjoyable experience, I look back and think how much more I would have enjoyed them armed with some of the knowledge gleaned from these lectures. I highly recommend this series, whether you are brand new to Symphonies, or if you are a long-time symphony listener who wants to enhance your listening experience.

The Symphony