The Concerto [TTC Video]
09 May 2016, 01:17
Course No. 7270 | .AVI, XviD, 642 kbps, 400x288 | English, MP3, 256 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x47 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.73GB
Ready for thrills? A concerto is exciting in ways that no other instrumental music can match. Where a symphony enthralls us with themes that are contrasted, varied, transformed, and developed, a concerto adds the extra dimension of human drama—the exhilaration of a soloist or group of soloists ringing forth against the mass of the orchestra.
Little wonder, then, that the concerto grew out of the same musical setting in 17th-century Italy that gave birth to opera. And like opera, the concerto is a vehicle for the depiction of every human emotion and relationship imaginable, from the gentlest and most tender to the most violent and confrontational, and everything in between.
The concerto is also an extreme sport for soloists, representing musical life lived at the edge, as instruments and the musicians who play them are pushed to the very limit of what is possible by composers exploring the extremes of instrumental virtuosity.
Best of all, the concerto repertoire is huge! The genre was invented long before the symphony. As a result, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli, and Telemann composed hundreds of concerti, but among them not a single symphony. Mozart's great concerti far outnumber his great symphonies; Beethoven wrote almost as many concerti as symphonies; and Brahms composed equal numbers of both. During the 18th and 19th centuries, at least as many concerti were composed as symphonies. And during the 20th century, in terms of sheer quantity, the concerto was by far the single most important genre of orchestral music.
Thrills, drama, emotion, virtuosity, and a vast repertoire—what more could a music lover ask?
300 Years of Concerti
In this series of 24, 45-minute lectures, Professor Robert Greenberg gives you a guided tour of the concerto from its conception as a child of Renaissance ideals, through its maturation in the Classical age, its metamorphosis in the Romantic era, and its radical transformation in the 20th century. The course closes with a look into the future at concerto composers who are now in mid-career and poised to carry this vibrant musical tradition well into the 21st century.
These lectures are musically rich, including selections from nearly 100 concerti representing more than 60 composers—from Gabrieli to Gershwin, from Schumann to Shostakovich.
Along with the bedrock of the repertoire, represented by Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Rachmaninoff, Bartok, and many others, you will be introduced to superb concerti by Hummel, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Moszkowski, Paderewski, Ginastera, and other less-familiar masters.
The many pieces you will explore in depth include:
- Mozart's Concerto for Flute in G Major, K. 313: For one who claimed to detest the flute, Wolfgang Mozart composed some of the most gorgeous music ever written for the instrument.
- Haydn's Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat Major: Often heard on today's concert stage, this stirring piece was nearly lost forever. It was only found in 1929—120 years after Joseph Haydn's death.
- Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 4 in G Major, op. 58: Ludwig van Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto is one of his greatest works in the genre—filled with compositional, pianistic, and expressive innovations that changed the course of Western music.
- Chopin's Piano Concerto no. 2 in F Minor, op. 21: Disdaining large-scale form, Frederic Chopin strove for achingly beautiful themes and an amazing harmonic palette. The spectacular third movement of this piece is a Polish mazurka gone wild.
- Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 16: The most beloved and recognizable concerto to early 20th century audiences was not by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, or Brahms; it was this piece by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.
- Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35: In Professor Greenberg's estimation, this concerto is Peter Tchaikovsky's single greatest work and one of the greatest concerti of the 19th century.
Other highlights of the course include virtually an entire lecture devoted to Johannes Brahms's Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat Major, op. 83; and another lecture focusing on Antonin Dvorak's Concerto for Cello in B Minor, op. 104, "the greatest cello concerto ever written," says Professor Greenberg. You also explore some notoriously esoteric and difficult 20th-century composers, including Arnold Schoenberg and Elliott Carter, learning how their music is much more accessible than it appears.
As in his many other courses for The Teaching Company, Professor Greenberg has put together a fascinating itinerary that will surprise, delight, and instruct you, introducing you to new realms of music and also teaching you how to appreciate familiar pieces in new ways.
And, as always, his musical analysis is a vivid play-by-play, mixing technical information (which he always explains) with a connoisseur's appreciation for the grand effect, the crucial detail, and the telling anecdote that help bring a piece of music to life. For example:
- Bach's Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048: "One could argue quite persuasively that rather than feature no soloist at all, Brandenburg 3 demands that virtually every player become a soloist."
- Mozart's Concerto for Piano no. 21 in C Major, K. 467: "Mozart creates for the piano a persona that is a rakish bon vivant that stands in contrast to the orchestra's grandeur. The piano is 'escorted' on stage, Dean Martin-like, by what I imagine to be three lovely ladies: a sultry redhead, portrayed by a solo oboe; a husky-voiced brunette, portrayed by a solo bassoon; and a ravishing blonde, portrayed by a solo flute."
- Bartok's Piano Concerto no. 2: "Bartok's music is precisely what all 21st century music should aspire to be: personal, powerful, and brilliantly crafted; music that somehow manages to reconcile diverse aspects of our global environment into a whole greater than its parts. Bartok is, truly, a composer for our time."
- Richard Strauss's Oboe Concerto in D Major: "Strauss's Oboe Concerto is a masterwork of elegance, melodic grace, and concision, though it begins with a passage that strikes fear and dread in the heart of every oboist. To play the passage, an oboist has to use a technique called circular breathing, during which she must exhale air held in the cheeks while simultaneously inhaling through the nose."
A Thrill in Every Sense
Professor Greenberg observes that the same qualities of drama and conflict that make concerti exciting experiences for the audience also create the prospect for real-life conflict among the musicians. "The performance of a concerto is ripe with potential for interpersonal conflict that goes beyond the usual conductor versus orchestra warfare," he notes. "By adding an outsider—a featured soloist—to the mix, we are witness to an exponential increase in the likelihood for interpersonal rivalry, resentment, envy, and sabotage." Professor Greenberg gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse at several incidents that illustrate the fragile egos and turf wars that seem to be an inevitable part of the business of making great music.
But great music it is—a thrill in every sense. The concerto is a genuinely theatric construct. Beyond its pitches, rhythms, and forms, it is about the aspirations of the individual—each of us, as we venture forth and make our way in a sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly, but always challenging environment.
The String Quartets of Beethoven [TTC Video]
09 May 2016, 01:12
Course No 7240 | AVI, AVC, 640x480 | AC3, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x46 mins | 5.34GB
In his 16 quartets for two violins, viola, and cello, Beethoven created a Mount Everest for string players and some of the most sublime, unforgettable music ever written. Continuing to astound listeners after 200 years, these glorious quartets give voice to the innermost landscape of the human heart and spirit. They stand, like Michelangelo's statues or the plays of Shakespeare, at the pinnacle of Western art.
These history-making pieces revolutionized the string quartet as an art form, bringing to it bold new musical resources and expressive content. In these works, Beethoven mastered, then transcended, the accepted musical norms, creating the quartets as both a trailblazing manifesto of personal expression and a daring challenge to the Western conception of music itself.
How can we get the most from these intriguing masterpieces? In their mold-breaking construction and rich complexity, how can we find our way to their essence and hear them with full understanding?
In The String Quartets of Beethoven, Professor Robert Greenberg, composer and celebrated music historian at San Francisco Performances, guides you in a deep encounter with these majestic works of art, offering you the rare opportunity to grasp the musical riches and spiritual greatness of the quartets in a clear and accessible way. Speaking with passion, profound insight, and refreshing informality, Dr. Greenberg reveals the secrets of these multifaceted works in twenty-four 45-minute lectures, aided at every turn by the masterful interpretations of the Alexander String Quartet.
In this compelling inquiry, you uncover the musical underpinnings of the luminous beauty, emotional depth, and dramatic scope that make these quartets legendary, and you probe the inner workings of one of history's most innovative minds.
This is not formal, academic analysis, but rather a directly accessible entry into the real substance of the quartets, giving you both an intelligent way to listen to them and follow their structure as well as an understanding of what makes them expressively impactful, dazzlingly original, and ultimately great as works of art.
The String Quartets of Beethoven gives you a way of knowing these quartets that opens the door to years of pleasure and insight into great music.
One Man Transforms an Art Form
As the course opens, Dr. Greenberg plunges you directly into the exciting atmosphere of Vienna in the late 18th century. In Vienna and Italy, the string quartet evolves from the earlier "trio sonata" into what many consider the single most intimate and conversational of musical genres. You learn the "ritual template" of the Classical string quartet, and you probe the seminal innovations of Haydn and Mozart within the template, as they set the stage for the explosive arrival of Beethoven.
At the heart of the course, Dr. Greenberg takes you on a movement-by-movement exploration of the individual Beethoven quartets, revealing the arc of the composer's fierce independence and imagination, as he brings to the string quartet an expressive, formal, and narrative range undreamed of by earlier musicians.
Your exploration includes extensive listening and study of these landmark quartets:
- Opus 18, no. 6: The most radically innovative of the early quartets. Here Beethoven alters the Classical structure of the string quartet, forcing listeners to think and hear in new ways.
- Opus 59, no. 1: Proceeding from his "heroic" self-reinvention of 1803, in Opus 59, no. 1 Beethoven unveils string quartet writing of symphonic scope and dramatic power, demonstrating his mature compositional innovations.
- Opus 127: The haunting, exquisite lyricism of this quartet, set within a work of dramatic contrasts, is one of the high points of Beethoven's work with the genre.
- Opus 130 and the Grand Fugue: A rich, unfolding sequence of diverse movements, culminating in the monumental Grand Fugue, is the epitome of Beethoven's personal, subjective vision of fugue.
- Opus 131: Plumbing the multiple expressive milestones of this seven-part, operatically conceived quartet, you devote three lectures to what many consider to be Beethoven's single "most perfect" work.
Professor Greenberg's many provocative insights deepen your understanding, as in his suggestion that you hear the structure of Opus 130 as "circular" rather than linear, relating each individual movement organically to the Grand Fugue.
Revolutionary Music, Conceived for a Later Age
Your immersion in the musical "meat" of the individual quartets grounds the story of Beethoven's artistic trajectory with the quartets as a whole. You delve deeply into the musical innovations that underlie Beethoven's phenomenal, unfolding creativity in these works:
- "Motivic" development: You learn how Beethoven created entire movements using the simplest musical ideas or "motives"—how his core focus was not the musical material per se, but what the material could become, through transformation.
- Ongoing dramatic narrative: Throughout the quartets, you see how Beethoven conceived of a multimovement instrumental composition telling a single, narrative story.
- Originality: You observe how Beethoven pursued an uncompromising ideal of artistic growth and personal inventiveness, and how his refusal to "stand still" redefined the role of the composer.
- Contextual use of form: You see how, in the quartets, Beethoven altered and extended musical forms such as sonata, fugue, and theme and variation, bending them to his own expressive purposes or "contextual" needs.
Vivid Details of a Path of Creation
Professor Greenberg brings out details of Beethoven's personal life as they relate to the writing of the quartets, showing how multiple aspects of his difficult circumstances and personality—in addition to practical and commercial matters—contributed to the specific direction he took with these works.
You learn how Beethoven arrived in Vienna at the time of a public mania for string quartets, and how his Opus 18 quartets gave him the chance to wrestle with the form and prove himself, as both a master of the Classical quartet "template" and a boldly original voice.
You see how in late 1802, driven close to suicide by his oncoming deafness, Beethoven managed to reinvent himself with the Enlightenment-inspired identity of a hero triumphing over fate—and how this "new self" took direct and dynamic musical form in the quartets of Opus 59.
You learn how Beethoven's personal belief in redemption through struggle and perseverance is reflected in the "cathartic" narrative structure of Opuses 95, 131, and 132.
And you observe how, in his last years, ill, isolated, and poverty stricken, he poured his remaining resources of body and spirit into the magnificent late quartets, creating them as the "last revelations of his spirit."
Professor Greenberg's gift as a teacher is his ability to make the abstraction of great music directly comprehensible, while speaking to a range of experience in his listeners. Seasoned musicians will find the lectures an ingenious and far-reaching illumination of the quartets and of Beethoven's unfolding innovations. Newcomers to Classical music will find them a very welcoming and accessible path to the heart of these extraordinary creations.
Throughout the course, the quartets come to vibrant life in the playing of the renowned Alexander String Quartet—a group that has lived these works deeply, praised by The New York Times for the "power and poignancy" of its interpretations.
"He who divines the secret of my music is delivered from the misery that haunts the world." —Beethoven
In The String Quartets of Beethoven, Dr. Greenberg offers you a rare and life-enriching opportunity: to grapple with the inner workings of musical genius, with the creation of the deepest and richest of human expression, in your encounter with these works that define the power of art.
With a rare melding of nonverbal "voices," Beethoven gives expression to the poignant depths and heights of human experience; to the anguish, awe, and ecstasy of living—and to a liberating, transcendent domain of the spirit, beyond place and time.
Take this opportunity, in The String Quartets of Beethoven, to know the scope of Beethoven's genius, his most unforgettable music, and the profound humanity and beauty that live through them.
Beethoven's Piano Sonatas [TTC Video]
09 May 2016, 01:03
Course No 7250 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x45 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.04GB
Beethoven was a revolutionary man living in a revolutionary time. He captured his inner voice—demons and all—and the spirit of his time, and in doing so, created a body of music the likes of which no one had ever before imagined. "An artist must never stand still," he once said. A virtuoso at the keyboard, Beethoven used the piano as his personal musical laboratory, and the piano sonata became, more than any other genre of music, a place where he could experiment with harmony, motivic development, the contextual use of form, and, most important, his developing view of music as a self-expressive art.
Pushing the Piano to Its Limit and Beyond
Spanning the length of his compositional career, Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas provide a window into his personal musical development, and they show the concept of the piano as an instrument and the piano sonata as a genre undergoing an extraordinary evolution.
The sonatas are not simply compositions for the piano, but are about the developing technology of the piano itself, an evolving instrument that Beethoven pushed to its limits and then beyond, ultimately writing music for an idealized piano that didn't come into existence until some 40 years after his death.
An Engaging and Exhilarating Professor
As in his previous courses, Professor Greenberg combines his perceptive analyses of musical excerpts with historical anecdotes, metaphors, and humor. He shows what goes on inside a musical composition: how it came to be written, how it works, and how—as is often the case with Beethoven—it may break all the rules to achieve a new and powerful effect. This course is somewhat technical and although musical knowledge is helpful, it is not necessary.
Popular, Experimental, Revolutionary, Shocking
Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas include some of his most popular works as well as some of his most experimental. This course touches on every one of these fascinating pieces, approaching them chronologically, from the terse and powerful first sonata of 1795 to the revolutionary Hammerklavier Sonata of 1818 and the radical last three sonatas of 1820–1822.
In addition to the Hammerklavier, you will explore in detail the other sonatas that, by virtue of their popularity or other special qualities, have been bestowed with evocative nicknames. These include:
- Pathétique (Piano Sonata no. 8 in C Minor, op. 13): The modern popularity of this piece has obscured its shocking originality, which led a contemporary to characterize Beethoven's work as "lots of crazy stuff."
- Funeral March (Piano Sonata no. 12 in A-Flat, op. 26): Beethoven's first 11 piano sonatas challenged and eventually broke the bonds of the 18th-century Classical style. In this work, he fully embraced a genuinely experimental, avant-garde approach to the sonata.
- Moonlight (Piano Sonata no. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, op. 27, no. 2): The composer Hector Berlioz wrote that the haunting first movement of this famous work is "one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify."
- Tempest (Piano Sonata no. 17 in D Minor, op. 31, no. 2): Although Shakespeare's The Tempest reportedly inspired this sonata, the thematic parallels between the two works are elusive. But like the title of Shakespeare's play, Beethoven's sonata must qualify as one of the most expressively "tempestuous" in the repertoire.
- Farewell (Piano Sonata no. 26 in E-Flat, op. 81a): Also known as Les Adieux and Das Lebewohl, this programmatic work commemorates the departure from and return to Vienna of Beethoven's close friend Archduke Rudolph.
Not all of Beethoven's greatest piano sonatas have nicknames. The last three are conventionally known by their opus numbers—109, 110, and 111—and are among Beethoven's most pathbreaking works.
"Oh, to Have Heard Him Play!"
Beethoven first achieved fame as a thrilling and unorthodox pianist who treated the piano, according to his contemporaries, in an "entirely new manner."
"When Beethoven played, expression always came first," says Professor Greenberg. "Beethoven was no more capable of slavish adherence to a steady beat than he was able to follow the constructs and rituals of Classicism. Oh, to have heard him play!"
To be present while Beethoven played was considered by contemporaries to be a revelatory experience. Johann Wenzel Tomaschek, a rival piano virtuoso, observed: "Beethoven's magnificent phrasing and particularly the daring of his improvisation stirred me strangely to the depths of my soul; indeed, I found myself so profoundly bowed down that I did not touch my piano for several days."
Piano manufacturers saw things differently. According to Andreas Streicher, Beethoven was so violent at the keyboard that he was "unworthy of imitation. ... He carries on in a fiery manner, and treats his instrument like a man who, bent on revenge, has his archenemy in his hands and, with cruel relish, wants to torture him slowly to death."
Nonetheless, once he became famous, Beethoven rarely if ever had to buy his own pianos, as piano builders vied with each other to lend him instruments. Nor did Beethoven let shortcomings of contemporary pianos limit his creativity. In his Piano Sonata no. 7 in D, op. 10, no. 3, he expands two musical phrases into high and low registers that didn't exist on the keyboards of the day.
Transferring Despair into Musical Action
Beethoven's childhood was dominated by abuse and loss. Already a bundle of gastric ailments and psychological neuroses, he went deaf over the course of his young and middle adulthood. He was desperately unlucky in love. Desiring a child, he did everything in his power to steal his nephew Karl from the boy's mother; when he succeeded, Karl attempted suicide.
As he entered his final decade, Beethoven became genuinely paranoid. And yet, says Professor Greenberg, Beethoven translated his experience into action—musical action—by composing pieces that by some amazing alchemy universalized his problems and his solutions.
Analyzing Beethoven's "Game"
Professor Greenberg analyzes many musical passages, taking you note-by-note, phrase-by-phrase through different movements of the sonatas, showing how Beethoven plans and achieves his surprising effects. Beethoven paid scrupulous attention to all aspects of his compositions, and Professor Greenberg elucidates these features and brings them vividly to life, such as thematic development, tempo, large-scale dramatic progression, and psychological manipulation by the performer.
You will learn a wealth of musical vocabulary: terms such as Viennese Classical style, sonata form, theme and variations, exposition, modulating bridge, recapitulation, cadence, minuet, rondo, fugue, and scherzo.
What You Will Hear: Extraordinary Performances by a Celebrated Pianist
Beethoven died 50 years before the invention of sound recording, so we will never hear his voice or the sound of his playing.
You will hear literally hundreds of excerpts of Maestro Claude Frank's recordings over the span of the course. Frank's recording of the 32 sonatas was originally released for the Beethoven bicentennial in 1970, and was hailed as "one of the year's 10 best" by Time magazine.
Truly, Beethoven's piano music is his voice, emerging from his mind, through his fingers, to our ears and hearts. And his piano sonatas are, more than any other of his amazing works, his personal testament, expressed in his own voice.