Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Listen and Understand Great Music

Yes, I'm going to explain how to do that in one blog post. Just kidding.

New Jersey's own Robert Greenberg is the entertaining lecturer of the music appreciation course with that name. That is, How to Listen and Understand Great Music, which BHPL has in its nonfiction audiobook collection. New Jersey comes up during a discussion of Lorenzo Da Ponte, the Venetian who wrote the libretti (a.k.a. the lyrics) for Mozart's operas. In 1805 Da Ponte ran a grocery store in Elizabeth of all places, before becoming Columbia University's first professor of Italian literature.

Dr. Greenberg tells funny and illuminating stories about composers, but what I liked best was learning about A) opera - which I thought I would have to suffer through - and B) the various forms of pieces (for example, concertos, oratorios, fugues), and how they came about. You get to hear a little of each selection, which is a good way to figure out what you'd enjoy listening to on your own in full later.

This audiobook course is located at BHPL at CD AUDIO 780.9 GRE - scan the walls for a pink flamingo to find the nonfiction audiobooks. Robert Greenberg has also put a version of the course in printed form with the book "How to Listen to Great Music: a Guide to Its History, Culture and Heart". For more reviews of Teaching Company courses that you can borrow from the library: Museum Masterpieces: the Met; The Story of Human Language; and a list of courses that BHPL owns.

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