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Summary

In The Life & Times of Beethoven, celebrated composer and music historian Professor Robert Greenberg of San Francisco Performances gives you a unique perspective on a musical genius the likes of which the world had never seen before - or since. 

Blending biography, history, and music appreciation, these 10 lectures portray Beethoven’s extraordinary (and still modern-sounding) music as a direct outgrowth of his life, environment, and interior emotional landscape. What makes Beethoven’s anger so special is that he was the first composer to portray his own raw (sometimes even violent) emotions directly in his music. As a result, for more than 200 years, works like his later quartets, his Hammerklavier sonata, and his Symphony No. 9, have moved, touched, and sometimes even frightened listeners in a manner almost primal. 

Professor Greenberg lays bare the links between Beethoven’s life and his incredible output of music. Listeners will learn:

  • How the crisis involving Beethoven’s hearing became a catalyst for his musical creativity and originality, 
  • How Beethoven’s infatuation with Napoleon helped him change the language of Western music, 
  • How Beethoven’s “Heroic Music” helped the composer symbolically overcome his pain and unhappiness, 
  • How six factors contributed to Beethoven’s crushing fall from popular grace in 1815, 
  • How Beethoven revolutionized the genre of string quartets during the last two years of his compositional life, and much more!

These lectures give an unforgettable perspective of an angry, alienated composer, who, nevertheless, translated personal defeats into musical triumphs.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

What listeners say about The Life & Times of Beethoven

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    3 out of 5 stars

interesting but no music

I enjoyed this once I'd got over the disappointment that it was not accompanied by any illustrative music.

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  • Jacobus
  • 04-11-19

An excellent overview of Beethoven's life

The Life and Times of Beethoven is a biography compiled by Prof Robert Greenberg of The Great Courses-fame. As part of the Great Courses you are enticed with an academically well-researched and very interesting course.

However, if you expect music examples, as with most of Prof Greenberg's courses, this course lacks it. It is history, moulded and made interesting. On the upside, while most Great Courses were created as video courses, this course focus on audio presentation. There is no workbook and you can drive and listen.

I highly recommend the course. It is a splendid biography by a heavy weight in Musicology of probably the most famous composer.

6 people found this helpful

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  • yanks45a1
  • 25-02-20

Sensationalism

For the first 10 minutes or so, the author quoted polls to show how popular Beethoven is today to Classic Music fans. Later, he quotes an historian who believed a good biography of Beethoven needs to be objective and avoid "interpretation." Robert Greenberg goes on to disagree with this historian and lets you know that the next 4 1/2 of this "book" will be Robert's "interpretation." The author tries to use a "female" voice when stating the opinions or quotes of women. It comes across as comical. Within an hour of this "audible" event, I felt that the "center" of this event was not Beethoven; the center becomes, to me, Robert Greenberg. This event becomes, not history, entertainment.

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  • Albert Navarra
  • 21-02-20

Just brilliant

I feel like I actually knew Beethoven, personally, and knew him well, even smelled him, after listening to this brilliant series. Great job, Professor Greenberg.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 20-01-20

all talk no music

constantly pitching his other books the lecturer shouts, doesn't play any of Beethoven's music. awful

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  • THS
  • 12-11-19

WHAT no music????

The description implied that there would be analysis of the music. That is why I purchased this series. 10 minutes in he’s explaining how to buy his CD’s.

I can’t express how disappointed I was.

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  • JohnB
  • 01-07-21

Would make an amazing movie

This story, with the narration that only Robert Greenberg could provide, would make the best mini-series ever, on par with Roots. If you are looking for a great biography of Beethoven, go no further. This is the one to listen to.

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  • Dustin
  • 14-02-20

Robert Greenberg is always great!

I've listened to nearly all of the Great Courses by Robert Greenberg and he has delivered once again. Audio clips of the music would have been a plus and I would have paid more to hear them. Otherwise everything was great and I would encourage everyone to listen to this course.

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  • Al Wheeler
  • 30-01-20

Another Hit from Dr. Bob

I was excited to find Robert Greenberg on Audible; it did not disappoint. Thank you for another great course.

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  • Mr. W
  • 21-06-21

Classic Greenberg

as with all his books & lectures I found this very enjoyable & insightful. You always learn something you didnt know & being an audio book you can throw on the head phones & work on something else while you listen. Some may wonder why you occasionally laugh & look like your enjoying your work too much, but we know it's Greenberg making your day more enjoyable, and like I said your just alittle bit smarter than you were before listening & doing your work. So I say its a great edition, enjoy.

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  • Gregala
  • 31-05-21

Great composer, frenzied lecturer

This set delivers on the life and times of Beethoven, as promised. I've enjoyed one of Greenberg's previous surveys of classical music, but here he seems to be channeling William Shatner in a choppy, frenetic speaking style, odd word choices, and far more self-aggrandizement than is necessary. Note: this series is of value only to those already familiar with Beethoven's music, as it includes no excerpts at all, which even serious musicians may find problematic. I wonder if this course really is a kind of loss leader or come-on for the lecturer's other Beethoven series.