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Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music  By  cover art

Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music

By: Robert Greenberg,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Robert Greenberg
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Publisher's Summary

Although we often think of an artist's work as a window into their own inner world, that is not always the case.

In the life of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, however, we can see perhaps the closest link to be found anywhere between a creative product and the shifting moods of a turbulent soul, which found its outlet through the glorious music created by the great Russian composer.

To know his music, you must know the man, and this fast-moving series of eight lectures from an award-winning composer and accomplished teacher offers an insightful look into both the circumstances of Tchaikovsky's life and the impact that life had on his music. You'll learn about his fear of conducting, his disastrous marriage and subsequent suicide attempt, his depression, and the constant anxiety that his closeted homosexuality would become public-a fear that proved prophetic and led to a second, and successful, attempt to take his own life.

Torn by the conflicts between his own Romantic inclination for expression and the requirements of Classical structure - he was the first full-time, formally trained, professional composer in Russian history - Tchaikovsky's music is a delicate balancing act. Heart versus head, emotion versus reason, release versus control, the expressiveness demanded of his Russian soul and the strictures of Classical technique - all of these conflicts find their way into his music, and give it its extraordinary emotional power.

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

©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses

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

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    2 out of 5 stars

Much too much about his sexuality instead of music

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

I have several of these books and would try more. I prefer ones that spend more time on the musical achievements.

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

I would have appreciated learning much more about the great music and hearing more excerpts. There were, of course, some--just not enough.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration keeps your interest. I wish, however, that Greenberg would not read the quotes with such a strange emphasis. He often makes things sound mocking or sarcastic when they really were not that way at all. Also, there was too much speculation about Tchaikovsky's homosexuality throughout this. Some...okay. But rather than lengthy speculations, for example, that his feelings for his nephew were inappropriate, a sentence or two would have been sufficient--then, please, more focus on the music.

Did Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music inspire you to do anything?

This course did inspire me to read more about Tchaikovsky (correcting a few of the misimpressions I got from it along the way) and also to listen to and watch more of his symphonies, ballets and the great violin concerto.

Any additional comments?

I definitely learned from this course and Professor Greenberg's enthusiasm held my interest. But it is unfortunate there was not more about his professional life (which is overwhelmed by speculation about his personal life and sexual orientation) and more excerpts and analysis of his greatest works.

5 people found this helpful

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love the series but too short

as always these lectures pass far too quickly. they are very entertaining and I learned many a new fact. however I can't get rid of the impression that the professor focuses very much on sensational details to make the time pass quickly. I could easily do with more rigor and would enjoy the lecture more

5 people found this helpful

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Spectacular

Robert Greenberg's Great Masters are the BEST "Great Courses" lectures that I have heard until now. I loved Beethoven's courses and I loved Tchaikovsky's as well. Greenberg's style is unique: he speaks full of passion, the characters are well painted, the music is properly inserted.He points out to the music for example-- listen to the oboe, or look how the piano is the superb instrument-- and demonstrates the mood of the author at that precise time-- here he was sad, then he was happy. He retells with music the history of Tchaikovsky's life, his torments, and greatness.
Robert Greenberg's lectures are as entertaining as educational. Listen to them. You won't regret!

4 people found this helpful

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12000 love letters to someone you never met

Would you listen to Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music again? Why?

I don't know if I would have the time again with all the other Dr Greenberg courses I am listening to. I have listend to about fifty four hours and counting. These courses are most invormative.and give you a very good idea of the composers life and the history of the area in which he lived.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music?

His relationship with Van Meck is very interesting, and the story about his Romeo and Juliet.

Have you listened to any of Professor Robert Greenberg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Ihave listened to Dr Greendergs lectures on Brahms, Stavinsky and how to listen to and understand music 3rd addition I have several others of his courses that I will listen to in the future.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Why to long for one sitting. nice to have it in dailey lectures.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent lectures on a favorite composer

Prof. Greenberg leads us through a fascinating story of a complicated genius and his music. This is my favorite of his courses - I have listened a few others in the past and his somewhat overbearing style got to me. Here somehow it worked - it fit the composer's dramatic and mercurial personality. Tchaikovsky's life is amazing and tortured and dramatic, and Prof. Greenberg shows us where it all emerges in the music.

Prof. Greenburg is probably the most prolific of the Great Courses lecturers. If you are looking for a place to start with his catalog, I would start here.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful

Amazing musical biography of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. I love how the lectures introduced less known music and I just wish that they were longer. As a life-long fan of Tchaikovsky's music, this series was a special treat

1 person found this helpful

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Great Engaging Storyteller

I was interested the whole way through. Excellent and accessible teacher made it fun and exciting to learn about Tchaikovsky’s life and music.

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so disappointed

well in perspective The Nutcracker Suite is but a small portion of Tchaikovsky's life is cultural impact on his reputation and Remembrance is tremendous; I was profoundly grieved that it was not touched upon once much less given at least half a chapter about what it meant to the composer and those who received it at its premiere. it is a great disservice to those of us who listened to this lecture series to have left that out shame on you

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Always the best!

Prof greenberger is genius!
This is my forth great course lecture series rendered by him.
His passion , power with words and voices and humor put him amongst the best
He is the best!
Quote his words “ I thank thee until next time”

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polarizing style, under-researched substance

Professor Greenberg seems to think he can skate by with limited research on historical subjects because of his musical expertise. Basic errors in detail about Russia start to creep in from the first chapter, and suggest a exoticized view of the country to fill in the research gaps.
Some may find his style, with random repetition, sudden changes in volume, and inconsistent speed, fresh, but I found it pompous.

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  • Mike of Alsager
  • 08-04-17

A Curate's Egg

What did you like best about Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music? What did you like least?

Introductions and samples of Tchaikovsky's music were interesting, but the continued references to his sexuality, while not irrelevant, seemed to dominate the narrative.

What three words best describe Professor Robert Greenberg’s performance?

Over the top.

Did Great Masters: Tchaikovsky - His Life and Music inspire you to do anything?

I went back and listened to some of my Tchaikovsky CDs and ordered some others.

Any additional comments?

I think I'd give Greenberg's other courses a miss.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Miketawe
  • 05-28-20

A great story of s great composer.

Excellent series of lectures on great composer giving a lot of new information. Well worth listening to recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anne-Marie Torp
  • 11-06-22

Interesting and brilliant!

Interesting lectures and brilliant performance by Greenberg - as usual. I highly recommend all his composer biographies!

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  • Rosa
  • 07-24-20

Too funny for adults but too boring for kids

Full of information, but more about life than music. Overall is good. but the tune of voice is a little bit aggressive, so sounds a bit angry.