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Great Music of the 20th Century

Written by: The Great Courses
Length: 17 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The 20th century was a hotbed of musical exploration, innovation, and transformation unlike any other epoch in history. Ranging across the century in its entirety, these 24 lectures present a musical cornucopia of astounding dimensions - a major presentation and exploration of the incredible brilliance and diversity of musical art across a turbulent century.

Using a chronological approach, you'll explore the fascinating gamut of 20th-century musical "isms", from impressionism and fauvism to serialism, stochasticism, ultraserialism, neoclassicism, neotonalism, and minimalism as well as the inclusivity and synthesis within concert music that embraced Western historical styles, folk and popular music, jazz, rock, Asian, Latin American, and other influences in the service of heightened musical expression. Through the panoramic view of the course, you'll discover the genius of composers such as Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, Bartok, Ligeti, Riley, and many others.

Far more than simply a series of lectures, the program comprises a huge and many-sided resource for discovering the endless riches of 20th-century concert music across the globe. The phenomenal range of genres and composers covered and the wealth of suggestions for specific works make this a reference that could easily inspire years of musical exploration and glorious listening.

This remarkable inquiry opens the doors to an extraordinary spectrum of contemporary masterpieces that await discovery and deep listening. Within these unique and riveting lectures, Professor Greenberg offers you the keys to understanding and deep enjoyment of a revolutionary, visionary, and magnificent era in music. In Great Music of the 20th Century, you'll experience the living, evolving, and superlative musical art that so vividly and unforgettably speaks to the life of our times.

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

©2018 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Great Courses

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Robert Mark
  • Flagstaff, AZ USA
  • 2018-04-04

No music included!

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Robert Greenberg PhD?

Yes, I really like Robert Greenberg,

Would you recommend Great Music of the 20th Century to your friends? Why or why not?

I listen to the books while driving. I was very disappointed to discover there were only URLs, no music!

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Not without the music.

Was Great Music of the 20th Century worth the listening time?

Not without the music.

Any additional comments?

There should have been a warning that the music was not included.

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • MAdison
  • 2018-03-11

Disappointment

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I have listened to many of Prof Greenberg's audiobooks, some more than once. Outstanding courses, educational and entertaining. In my view, three elements are primary reason for such great materials that he put together:
- Prof Greenberg is very knowledgeable with hands on experience in a range of music and eras
- Excellent story teller, intertwining social & historical elements with music development
- Inclusion of key and relevant performances/pieces that made his points very clear to follow and fully appreciate details

Inclusion of these performances, created wonderful courses that I was enjoying during my long commutes (driving, train and flight).

During the first lecture of this course, the author indiciated that due to cost of licensing, he has decided not include actual pieces (while he is describing verbally every performance in such a detail). Instead, there is a constant mention of "a URL is included in the materials"
In order to fully benefit from this course, one needs to listen to audiobook, while sitting in front of computer, with constant back and forth, something like:
Play-Pause-go to PDF for URL-UTube-Pause-Play-PDF-...

Without the actual examples included in the audiobook, this is purely a reading of materials by the author and fails to deliver

Imagine listening to his outstanding course titled "How To Listen To And Understand Opera", without great samples included.

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Include actual pieces/performances (not necessarily the entire piece, just enough that makes the content useful, very similar to previous courses)

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Yes, great professor and excellent topic

67 of 68 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Sue
  • Orlando
  • 2018-03-09

To listen is a juggling act

What would have made Great Music of the 20th Century better?

I have always enjoyed Robert Greenbergs lectures - they are witty and full of information. However this class has no music recordings in it (even ones such as DeBussy which is out of copywrite). In order to properly “enjoy” this I would need to listen to the lecture on my iPod find the non live YouTube url in the downloaded pdf and then type it in on another device. So unless you want to listen to the narrative on an iPod, find the URL on your kindle and the type the URL in your iPad to hear the music you will not fully enjoy these lectures

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Liz Myers
  • 2018-03-23

I miss the music

I listen to audio books in the car as I travel. I also listen as I walk/hike. I am disappointed that the music is not included. I can't check the URLs while I listen to the audio book.

I like Professor Greenberg's courses..up until now. I own several and have listened more than once to them.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Quinn
  • 2018-06-05

Happy to overlook lack of musical examples

Greenberg clearly states at the outset of this course that a Greenberg course on 20th century music with musical examples wouldn’t have been possible. There’s no use whining about it. Other than the lack of musical examples, it’s the Greenberg you know and feel slightly ambivalent toward because he read Berlioz’s writing in a condescending voice, but you’re grateful for him anyway.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robert A. Fritchey
  • Ferguson, MO, United States
  • 2019-01-13

We need no longer be afraid!

Professor Greenberg once again hits it out of the park. I first purchased his independent course on music of the 20th century, then got The Great Courses version when it eventually became available. NOTE: This format is slightly different than his other courses. Because of the extreme expense of licensing any music of the last 75 years or so, the musical samples are referred to in URLs to go and seek on your own, mostly on YouTube, but to some other sites. If a link doesn't work, check Prof. Greenberg's site (In the course guide) for an alternate, or just look up the piece on your own. It's worth it! There is a LOT covered here. Some of this music you might not like at all. Some you may be intrigued by, or understand WHY it's important, but not really care to listen to it. Some of it you may not like at first but, as you delve into it, it will open up and reward you in ways that may even surprise you. And, of course, you'll surely find something new to love here. I've discovered several of my new favorites in this course that I know I'd never have encountered otherwise. And, as always, Prof. Greenberg ties everything back to the times, the history, the events and people who shaped this weird and perpetually evolving thing we call 'culture.' Give yourself some time after each lecture to explore the pieces and composers he mentions, then to branch out to explore other works, to think about, to feel, to listen to with an open mind and open ears. Then go on to the next lecture, and think how each style and school of composition grows out of, or in opposition to, what came before. Then, keep exploring, with a broader perspective and, hopefully, greater interest and understanding. Rock, Jazz, 'concert' music, pop, etc, it all came from something before it, and it's all going somewhere still. Get on board for the ride!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Stacey
  • Arroyo Grande, CA
  • 2018-07-17

Super Course but can’t listen in the car:(

I love Professor Greenberg but I was disappointed in this course because it came with URL links, instead of the previous courses that have the music integrated. I can’t stop and hook onto WiFi in order to watch YouTube while I’m driving! Not very safe! I feel like I have to start over on a day I can just listen and click the links to listen. All the information and history is fascinating-it’s rare that you get that much history in school. The course was very good and Dr. Greenberg is fun to listen to, but don’t listen in the car-you’ll have to follow along with the PDF and URL files at home.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • A P BRAUN MD
  • Houston Texas USA
  • 2018-07-01

Great lecturer No music to be heard

This course would be greatly enhanced if the musical segments (urls) were available to listen to during the lectures

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Marshall Peter Cline II
  • Earth
  • 2019-11-29

don't waste your time or money

after listening to his book my instalment stopped working as well at time and begain to start working normally at other times. He essentially broke my instalment.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • bobdc
  • 2019-07-20

Wonderful and informative

People complain about the lack of musical examples as if it were Greenberg's fault, but he clearly explains that licensing the examples would have pushed the budget for this course to a point where the course wouldn't exist. I'm very glad it does exist, because in addition to providing good context for many composers I had heard of, I learned about some great composers that I had been unaware of.

A lot of the URLs he provides for performances don't work anymore, but I created a Spotify playlist that covers just about all of the musical examples at https://open.spotify.com/user/bobdc/playlist/550CvxhGzH2QC3vwfzrrvE?si=xuQa8JMySfaTzNfeR30azg .