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The String Quartets of Beethoven

Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
Length: 18 hrs and 31 mins
5.0 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

Non-member price: $60.86

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Publisher's Summary

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. In this musically rich 24-lecture series, Professor Greenberg 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.

You'll uncover the musical underpinnings of the luminous beauty, emotional depth, and dramatic scope that make these quartets legendary; examine the inner workings of one of history's most innovative minds; learn the "ritual template" of the Classical string quartet; and probe the seminal innovations of Haydn and Mozart within the template, as they set the stage for the explosive arrival of Beethoven.

The heart of this series is 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. You'll delve deeply into the musical innovations that underlie Beethoven's creativity in these works, including "motivic" development, originality, and contextual use of form.

Each of these lectures is a rare and life-enriching opportunity to know the scope of Beethoven's genius, his most unforgettable music, and the profound humanity and beauty that live through them.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses

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  • David
  • 17-08-2017

Detailed; semi-technical; historical context

Greenberg sprinkles his usual silly jokes throughout, and of course follows the constricting Great Courses format with its fake applause, etc., but *unlike* other Greenberg courses this one is supported by excellent performances and sound reproduction -- and there is a lot of music.

(From the accompanying PDF download:
All of the musical examples from the Beethoven and Mozart string quartets incorporated in this lecture series are performed by the Alexander String Quartet. Many are drawn from the quartet’s recordings for the FoghornClassics label.)

My Audible purchase includes a helpful 157-page PDF download, dated 2009, including a good bibliography.

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  • Sean
  • 15-05-2015

Another excellent series

Professor Greenberg once again guides you through a difficult subject with sharp insights and great wit.

Like his symphonies, Beethoven's string quartets span his entire career and offer great diversity in terms of composition and expression. Having an authority like Dr Greenberg walk you through them and provide context makes them that much more enjoyable.

BONUS: The Alexander String Quartets' recording is available for free in Amazon Prime Music.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 28-04-2017

Again and again!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The Great Courses are great--but Dr. Greenberg is the greatest! I find myself returning to my favorite lectures and listening with more insigh and enjoyment to the piano sonatas, the violin quartets, to all the works that are now open to me because of Dr. G!

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  • Vic
  • 26-04-2017

Great Read

I did not know there'd was so much detail about music study and Beethoven. I recommend it.

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  • Mr. Johnson
  • 21-10-2020

Sifting through jokes for insights

Greenberg's jokey asides are well-known, but he lays them on particularly thickly here, though I cannot imagine what it is about the Quartets that inspires this choice. Were his jokes insightful or in any way pertinent to the music it would be one thing, but they invariably serve only to lower the tenor of his discourse and to distract. My theory is that this is the American mass cultural way of apologizing for loving high art; it is deemed necessary to throw in some irrelevant baseball analogies, some cringy puns, and slang quotations from uncle so-and-so to relieve us of the embarrassment of being high-brow. The reality, I hope, for most people listening this is that we don't care whether it's high- low-brow - this is profound, life-changing music produced by a singular genius, and we want to study it because we already love it and we wish to deepen our understanding and enjoyment. It is an expression of the divine, and muddying it with near-constant goofiness and demotic drivel is frankly insulting to both listener and composer.

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  • LIZ G.
  • 30-12-2018

Addictive and Annoying!

These podcasts are addictively interesting, I listen to them everywhere, they are such an easy way to gain a passing understanding of a whole subject. The performance of Robert Greenberg is at times annoying and occasionally excruciatingly cringeworthy, however, to the point of trivialisation of an interesting issue. Overall very good, despite the ‘Americanness’ in places.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-09-2020

Lively introduction to the quartets

Analysis and examples with quite a lot on Beethoven's life and times thrown in. Deft explanations of theory are given where necessary.

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  • Nicholas
  • 16-11-2019

Amazing

Learnt so much in this journey. Highly recommended. Robert Greenberg is highly talented at delivering these lectures and the interweaving of biographic and contextual material interlaced with each quarter - broken down and played part by part - means this complex subject is digestible for those even without music theory knowledge. Thanks!