Great Masters: Haydn-His Life and Music

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The "Inventor" of the Symphony and String Quartet You may point out that sinfoniae and string quartets existed before Haydn. And you'd be right, sort of. Mostly. But there is no question that Haydn perfected both and defined the structure we recognize today. Robert Greenberg, a delightful and talented professor, is the perfect choice to tell us about this delightful and talented composer. Though Haydn's reputation is overshadowed in the popular mind by Mozart and Beethoven -- both of whom he mentored -- Greenberg makes clear that he was every bit the genius his students were. This is a short course - only eight lectures. Yet Greenberg does an excellent job of packing them tightly with biography and musicology. Don't expect entire concerts: As with all the Great Masters courses, there's barely enough time to present a coherent picture of the man, his times, and his contributions to the art. You can and should explore Haydn's music on your own. But Greenberg arms you with everything you need to fully appreciate it when you do. The picture that emerges is of a genuinely admirable man. Mozart may be the man to share dinner and a joke with; Beethoven might be the performer you want a front seat for; Bach might be the brain you most want to pick, not to mention the steady, reliable family man you want for your daughter. But the Haydn that Greenberg brings to life is a truly admirable man, the sort who commands respect not just for his genius, but also for the sheer power of his character: A demanding but fair boss who looked out for his people; a loyal and reliable employee; a warm and trustworthy friend; an unpretentious celebrity in his own lifetime; an incredibly prodigious and confident master of his art despite a miserable marriage to a sharp-tongued woman who treated him as worthless. I purchased this course while I was living in Vienna, so I was able to visit Haydn's home as well as the Esterhazy estates that are now in Hungary and Austria. But even if that's a bonus you don't have, you'll enjoy this course. Get it.
Date published: 2020-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully informative; humor! Great music! I'm still listening to this and think it is just superb. Robert G. is a terrific teacher with a foot in the classical world, and another foot in the very contemporary world. His enthusiasm for his subject and for music is A+++. The musical excerpts are well chosen, and well explained. It is extremely entertaining and I will probably listen to it more than once!
Date published: 2020-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from HAYDN-His Life and Music Like all Professor Greenberg's Courses, it is both educational and entertaining.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hayden, Go Seek! Greenberg does it again with a great course of Hayden. My only complaint, as always, is that the series isn't 3 times as long. MORE!
Date published: 2020-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lively and informative Greenberg is always an entertaining lecturer who delivers quality information and perspective on his subject
Date published: 2020-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable and Informative Though I was familiar with some of Haydn's music, I came to this course without much knowledge about the man. Professor Greenberg has hit another home run with me in his informative biography/introduction. Haydn lived a fascinating life, full of surprises. Unlike so many other "great artists," he may have been (as Greenberg suggests) one of the most well-adjusted and happy of the great composers. It is refreshing and encouraging to hear of Haydn's serenity, graciousness, and generosity of spirit. Other than his apparently unhappy marriage, he had a great life, and would have been a pleasure to know. Greenberg also does well in introducing an overview of his music. I look forward to sampling some of the pieces I have not heard before. I'm a huge Greenberg fan and have listened to many of his series. He is his usual self here (enthusiastic, humorous, engaging, occasionally corny), and always interesting to learn from.
Date published: 2019-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Master composer, master presenter Professor Greenberg has been called “The Elvis of music history and appreciation” (a designation that evidently pleases him greatly), and he certainly is. In this course he is enormously entertaining, but the content is also great—historical context, lots of biographical goodies, information about the music (but clearly at a freshman level theory-wise), and plenty of musical examples. This was an extremely enjoyable course.
Date published: 2019-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hayden is one of my favorites, and i really enjoyed learning more of his life. His music seems so happy to me, and I found that he had a really happy nature- perfect match!
Date published: 2019-07-06
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Introduction and Early Life
1: Introduction and Early Life

Haydn's name is synonymous with the Classical style. No other single composer did as much to create and standardize the Classical symphony and quartet. This lecture describes his early years at school and as a choirboy at St. Stephen's Cathedral school in Vienna. In 1749, when his voice broke, he was expelled from St. Stephen's to begin a new life in Vienna at the age of 17....

49 min
The Lean Years and the Pre-Classical Style
2: The Lean Years and the Pre-Classical Style

Haydn eked out a living for years before his compositional career took off. He absorbed the musical traditions of his day: the high Baroque, and the new rococo music of the Enlightenment. This lecture discusses influences on Haydn: the Mannheim orchestra, Italian composer Sammartini as well as Viennese composers Reutter, Monn, and Wagenseil. In 1761, he got the opportunity of his life when he was ...

45 min
Haydn's Marriage and Esterhaza
3: Haydn's Marriage and Esterhaza

Musically, Haydn's development was an unqualified success but marriage to Maria Anna Keller was not. Prince Paul Anton and his successor, Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, were genuine music lovers. Haydn became the court music director with his own orchestra to conduct and write music for. Haydn was "forced to become original."...

45 min
Esterhaza Continued
4: Esterhaza Continued

Life at Prince Nicholas's court at Esterhaza was exactly what Haydn wanted: predictable and calm. Ideas of the new Sturm und Drang cultural movement imbued his music with a greater emotional range. Haydn became famous and wealthy, and he developed a close friendship with Mozart. His music became the template by which we measure the Classical style, perfectly balancing head and h...

45 min
The Classical String Quartet and the Classical Symphony
5: The Classical String Quartet and the Classical Symphony

Haydn's string quartets and symphonies are models of the Classical style. He forged the notion of the string quartet as four individuals who collaborate to create a whole that is greater than its parts. As the years passed at Esterhaza, Haydn's fame grew throughout Europe and England. When Prince Nicholas Esterhazy died in 1790, he accepted the invitation of an English impresario to ...

46 min
6: London

Haydn went to London at the invitation of Johann Peter Salomon, a violinist and impresario. The symphonies Haydn wrote for his London audiences are among his finest. He returned to Vienna in 1792, but his reception there was mild. Moreover, he had lost his great friend Mozart and was soon to lose his old friend Marianne von Genzinger. It could not have been a worse time when the young Ludwig van B...

43 min
Beethoven, London Again, and Breakthrough
7: Beethoven, London Again, and Breakthrough

Beethoven's composition lessons with Haydn were disastrous. Beethoven was discourteous and even duplicitous toward Haydn, although he would later forgive the young and rebellious Beethoven. At his second visit to London in 1794, he was as enthusiastically received as the first time. His 12 London Symphonies, written during both visits, are the crowning achievements of his symphonic output. After h...

45 min
The Creation, The Seasons, and the End
8: The Creation, The Seasons, and the End

As he grew old, Haydn's health began to fail, but he still kept a strict daily routine. He lived in the Viennese suburbs, continuing to receive a steady stream of medals, awards, and honors. He wrote The Seasons, his last major work, which was another extraordinary success. In March 1808, a performance of The Creation was given to a distinguished audience in honor of Haydn's 76th birthday; he died...

47 min
Robert Greenberg

For thousands of years cultures have celebrated themselves through their music. Let us always be willing and able to join that celebration by listening as carefully as we can to what, through music, we have to say to one another.


University of California, Berkeley


San Francisco Performances

About Robert Greenberg

Dr. Robert Greenberg is Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Greenberg holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has seen his compositions-which include more than 45 works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles-performed all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands. He has served on the faculties of the University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Hayward; and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has lectured for some of the most prestigious musical and arts organizations in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Van Cliburn Foundation, and the Chicago Symphony. For The Great Courses, he has recorded more than 500 lectures on a range of composers and classical music genres. Professor Greenberg is a Steinway Artist. His many other honors include three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition Prizes and a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress. He has been profiled in various major publications, including The Wall Street Journal; Inc. magazine; and the London Times.