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Summary

Johannes Brahms was a man of contrasts. His serious Teutonic music was balanced by joyful dance music. His miserliness with himself by exceeding generosity with family and associates. His kindness to working people with a biting, malicious wit reserved for those he encountered in artistic and aristocratic circles.

He was not an easy man to know, destroying a good deal of his own work and almost all of his lifetime's correspondence, in later years even collecting his letters from friends so that he could consign them to the flames.

Yet you can know this enigmatic genius through this 8-lecture series, which uses biographical information and musical commentary to link the complexities of Brahms the man with the electrifying music of Brahms the composer.You'll learn how Brahms found unique ways of combining the rigor and formal complexity of older Classical and even Baroque genres and forms with the melodic inventiveness, harmonic sophistication, and expressive richness so prized in the Romantic age. And how his fanatical perfectionism led him to write, rewrite, and ultimately destroy more than 20 string quartets before publishing a pair of exceptionally exquisite pieces at the age of 40, breathing new life into the old bones of this exacting chamber music form.

"His legacy," notes Professor Greenberg, "is a lifetime of extraordinary craft and artistic beauty without an inferior piece in the collection."

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

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Great Masters: Brahms-His Life and Music

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  • Jane
  • 20-08-13

First class introduction to a wonderful composer

How have I gone so long in life getting so much joy from the works of Brahms without understanding something of this great composer and his life. How many times has my heart been lifted listening to his violin and piano concerti, his symphonies -- oh, why did I start making a list, all his works are all wonderful.

Upon downloading this series of lectures,a new and eminently accessible view of Brahms was revealed. I've only just finished listening and I am still under its spell.

Yet, for the listener who knows little or nothing about classical music, let alone who Brahms actually is, this would be an inspiring introduction. Professor Greenburg is funny, insightful, compassionate, and at times, delightfully satirical -- in short, a clever and effective communicator. Infectious, really.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MNtea
  • 05-05-15

Enjoyed

I enjoyed this course very much. I would listen to another course by this presenter. I alternated between listening to it and listening to Brahms recordings. I have a wonderful collection of favorite Brahms recordings now thanks to this course. This and Brahms music got me through a difficult time. The focuses on his life, but has plenty of examples of his great music.

2 people found this helpful

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  • RSNYC
  • 18-04-15

Loved it!

Each of these courses draws me in and illuminates so much that is new to me even with a masters degree in music. Can't wait to hear the next one!

1 person found this helpful

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  • David Badillo
  • 25-04-21

An amazing biography!

Researched and told by an amazing music historian and professor, Robert Greenberg. Thank you for your work, professor!

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  • Danimike
  • 27-02-21

Magnificent!

This is a funny, nuanced exploration of the life of Brahms, a composer about whom very little is known and yet there is so much to love. Greenberg doesn’t shy away from the darker side of Brahms’s life and yet manages to capture the humility of the man along with his feistiness and blunt attitude. His perfectionism, combined with his determination to destroy anything less than his best, in many ways work against him, and though we might regret the pieces that were consigned to the fire, we have to be grateful for what survived. The emphasis here is very much on the man and not the musical theory. Still, the overall effect is an engaging one, well worth your time.

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  • William C. Giauque
  • 21-09-20

Wonderful

Absolutely marvelous. Fascinating stories about a fascinating and deeply gifted man. I could hardly wait for each new chapter.

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  • Richard Phillips
  • 18-01-20

Was mesmerized and left wanting more

Dr. Greenberg is once again magnificent. Brahms is brought to life - both as a man and a representation of the great artist. My only regret is the lecture series length - it should have been twice as long.

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  • B. Baxter
  • 19-08-19

Good biographic overview - less a musical one

I love Robert Greenberg's lectures! His series on Bach is not to be missed. But where that course took apart Bach's music, and peripherally provided Bach's biography, this one focused more on Brahms, the man and composer, and less on Brahms' music. Samples were included to outline the development of his music, but this was more the story of Brahms, his life, his friends, and of course, deep insight into his relationship with Robert and Clara Schumann. It was very interesting and thoroughly researched, but anyone looking for more technical exposition of his music may be slightly disappointed.

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  • LeC
  • 09-03-19

The best!

Simply, this is at the top of all classes. If you are a Brahms fan, you will be absolutely enthralled. But, if you enjoy music, and history, and biography, and memoir... well, if you want to be delighted, moved, intrigued, taught, and spend some time with some of the greatest in music, you should get this class right now. You will not regret it. Thank you, Professor Greenberg! And thank you, Brahms.

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  • Dr.YY
  • 03-02-19

Very good

His lecture I always impress me but after hearing so many his lectures that I found just the introduction for classic music. But still, his lecture is one the best for understanding classical music