Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Learning about music

One of the great resources for learning about classical music (and, to a small extent, jazz) is the series of lectures provided by The Teaching Company. The classical music programs are presented by Dr. Robert Greenberg, who has a full but quirky grasp of the subject. He definitely has his opinions, but he presents his material with an obvious gusto. His lectures cover not only the main facts of composers and works, but also include interesting tidbits that make the composers more human.

A good place to start is the class How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. This course takes the listener chronologically through the history of music, from the earliest written works by ancient Greeks up through to the first part of the twentieth century. Along the way he teaches about forms of music, and how they evolved. Along with instrumental works, there is a handful of lectures on opera. Because many orchestral works are derived from operatic forms, this provides a valuable insight into later forms of music.

Also available from The Teaching Company is a series of lectures entitled The Great Masters. As of this writing, there are ten composers studied in this series, which can be obtained one by one or you can get the entire series. These lectures, too, are presented by Dr. Greenberg. There are also courses in opera appreciation, the symphony, and in-depth study of certain works by various composers.

(Disclaimer - this blog does not receive any monetary or material benefit from The Teaching Company, nor is it affiliated with the company in any way beyond being the occasional customer.)