Great Masters: Haydn-His Life and Music

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
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg, is always fun I exercise in my basement during the michigan winter and Hayden and Greenberg do make things fun
Date published: 2018-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding This professor's courses are usually outstanding, and this one fits the mold. It would be very easy to make this type of course pretentious or unnecessarily erudite. As usual, the professor does not take himself too seriously, which makes the material very approachable, even for those who are not experts in classical music. It is hard not to like Hayden from both a personal and artistic perspective, and the professor makes you really appreciate Hayden both as a master composer and as a human being. The course perfectly blends personal with professional biography to create an interesting and informative course. This is well-worth the time.
Date published: 2018-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Anothe absolute delight Prior to hearing the course, I had next to zero acquaintance with the music of Haydn and zero knowledge of his life. The only time I got a bit familiar with him was when one of my daughters learned to play one of his piano sonatas – a piece that I found surprisingly beautiful and interesting. As I can say of all of the biographical music series courses given by Professor Greenberg, this one too was absolutely first rate. It explained why Haydn’s contribution is important, and in what sense. Further, it allowed us to follow Haydn’s career as he struggled to find a secure position as a musician, and then to get his independence from his overbearing patrons – the Esterase family. Finally, it acquaints us with his music, which ( as I have moted) I was only vaguely familiar with and foudn to be beautiful deeply intriguing. As in all the courses I have heard by Professor Greenberg, in this course too he was witty, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and fascinating. This allowed him to provide yet another course which I found to be an absolute delight.
Date published: 2018-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Introduction to Haydn This is one of many excellent courses by Robert Greenberg, who appears to be the Great Courses only expert in classical music. His delivery is passionate and enthusiastic. He drew me in with his revealing description of Haydn's character. Although Haydn died over 200 years ago, I believe that I have learned a good bit about Haydn and have received an introduction to the Viennese Classical Style. Some of the best parts of the course are the description of Haydn's invention of the String Quartet and Haydn's version of the Symphony. Greenberg also does a good job of describing the relationship between Haydn and Mozart and how Mozart influenced Haydn.
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wealth of Musical Knowledge I think the Professor Greenberg brings up interesting details about Hayden's life and also about his music. I sometimes wish he were not quite so casual in his approach and even a bit explicit about aspects of a composer's life.
Date published: 2017-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from delightful course Course was entertaining as well as informative: I learned a good deal about the composer and the context in which he lived. All in all, well worth the time!
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo, Professor Greenburg We REALLY like Professor Greenburg, and again, he did a splendid job.
Date published: 2017-05-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sparse content, meandering style After listening to the first five lectures, I actually felt like I knew LESS about Haydn than when I started. There's no direction to these lectures... I can't honestly say I remember a single intteresting fact about them.
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth the purchase Professor Greenberg is an excellent orator that entertains you while you learn.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Again! I cannot add much to what has already been said about this course and Professor Greenberg. He is both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The course is well structured and contains copious musical examples to make his points. The use of Haydn's letters really help to expose Haydn's character. All I can say is - keep them coming.
Date published: 2016-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Son is Loving This DVD. My son is a musician who has been teaching history through music and storytelling to junior high and high school students for years. He started when he was quite young, due to his pursuing his interests in both music and history on his own from a young age. We homeschooled so he got an early start. At the ripe old age of 19, he has completed the requirements for his music major in community college. He's taking this summer to play his violin, compose and enjoy some rest. I purchased several of Professor Greenberg DVDs for him for Chrismas a couple of years ago and he's just now finding time to watch them. He is absolutely loving them. He is so excited about Professor Greenberg's Haydn DVD, after having gone to bed, he lay there thinking about the lectures, jumped up, ran into my room and began excitedly lecturing me on what he's learned from it, along with related things about other composers he already knew. He's looking forward to learning even more from professor Greenberg's lectures on other composers. I think it says a lot about the professor when someone who teaches music through music and storytelling gets so excited about the information and way it's being taught. It sounds like he is as much storyteller as music historian... Which is the way it should be. I'm so glad I invested in professor Greenberg's DVDs. It's as though my son has found a kindred spirit, with the same enthusiasm for the subjects he's interested in, who is older and more knowledgable. Having these DVDs is the next best thing to being able to invite a wonderful mentor into one's own home. Thank you to Professor Greenberg and the Great Courses for making these DVDs available.
Date published: 2016-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg the Enthusiastic audio download version Along with other reviewers, I began the TC courses with professor Greenberg, in my case "How to Listen To and Understand Great Music". Aside from other fine courses presented well, I keep returning to Dr. Greenberg for a dose of his shtick and knowledge. To be sure there are reviewers who take exception to his style, called by one as "childish". A viewpoint with which it is hard to disagree, but perhaps I have never grown up, as his presentations find me smiling and occasionally laughing out loud. But in the end, style would be nothing without content and knowledge, and in this the good professor excels. While I have a set of complete recordings of Haydn's symphonies (Antal Dorati conducting the Detroit Symphony) I did not know much about Haydn's life. That omission is now corrected. I was also unaware of the influence Hayden had on Mozart, and most especially Mozart on Hayden. And now that I know and with Greenberg's help, I can actually hear some of Mozart's influence. The final lecture also inspired me to purchase a recording of "The Creation". Thank you Dr. Greenberg! Highly recommended.
Date published: 2015-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg does it again! OK, I’m hooked. I have become a voracious listener and viewer of Robert Greenberg’s lectures. As usual, the Haydn lectures were both informative and amusing. Greenberg strikes a wonderful balance between the two. His enthusiasm on the subject has inspired me to learn as much as I can about Haydn. This course has heightened my appreciation of Haydn’s life and his compositions. I now have a better understanding of the contribution and leadership during the Classical Period. I listened to this series on my iPod while riding my bike on our local rail-trail. The miles went by quickly while I exercised my body and mind! I am grateful to the Teaching Company that they now allow us to download content for off-line listening. My iTunes play counts on Haydn’s Symphonies, Quartets, Trios, and Sonatas have risen sharply since listening to these lectures. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2015-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haydn Unplugged Prior to watching this course, I had very little knowledge of Haydn or how he fit into the hierarchy of composers. Greenberg does his usual excellent job of alternating between biography and discussions of history, musical theory, and the relationships of the various composers of the time. Greenberg places Haydn in his time: what was music like before him and how Haydn changed it. We also learn how Mozart and others influenced Haydn. Haydn's music really is wonderful - I need to start listening to more of it! As in his other courses, Greenberg is incredibly enthusiastic; he clearly loves what he is doing. He tells lots of "jokes" which, on occasion, are amusing. He seems to do a lot more of that toward the beginning of this course than he did in the other courses he's done that I've watched. However, he seemed to settled down a bit after the first couple of lectures. But, even when his jokes miss, he's still a lot of fun to watch. And every time I watch one of his courses, I walk away having learned a lot of history as well. I definitely look forward to watching more Greenberg courses!
Date published: 2015-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A close look at a great composer In the interests of full disclosure, I will confess that I worship Robert Greenberg, from whom I have taken several courses with (fortunately) many others to go. So I may be biased to like this course. I am a huge fan of Haydn (along with many other composers), but I didn't know much about his life. Now I do. I found it fascinating that he had written a cello concerto that was lost for 200 years. I enjoy Greenberg's jokey comments, like useless being described as a screen door in a submarine and lean lines of classicism being likened to a 1958 Chevy. In other words, he is a special lecturer who tells you great heaps of neat stuff. If you like Haydn or any of the classic composers, don't miss this course.
Date published: 2015-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent insight into a great man of music Excellent, wide-ranging choice of material to reflect an extraordinary music man. The narrative is extensively bolstered with helpful quotes, both contemporary to Haydn's life and later. Professor Greenberg's enthusiasm and admiration for Haydn make the presentation interesting throughout. He clearly sets events in context and well explains pertinent musical terms. I don't always appreciate the good professor's humor, but he packs this course with a wealth of information and music excerpts that combine to give the participant a sense that they understand Haydn well. Definitely recommended to all who are interested in Joseph Haydn in particular or classical period music in general.
Date published: 2015-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from typical Greenberg - an excellent course I've taken five of six other courses by Prof. Greenberg, who truly is one of the Great Professors. I thoroughly enjoyed this course, learning a lot about Haydn as a person as well as his immense contribution to classical music. Of all of the Greenberg courses that I've thus far taken, this one makes the least reference to details of musical notation. All of Greenberg's courses are accessible and enjoyable by people who are not musicians and who do not know music theory; this course just strikes me as even more so. I very much like the music choices, both from Haydn and some of his predecessors, that Greenberg made for this course.
Date published: 2013-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An early Greeberg series shines brightly ! DVD REVIEW: Dr Greenberg is one of my favourite Great Courses lecturers; this was my fifth course with him; one of his early 8-lecture courses, recorded in 2000 when he sported a big moustache. It's a solid, powerful series that I recommend to you. Greenberg's highly-stylised, witty (slightly corny), entertaining presentation comes through strongly as he relates a fascinating detailed biographical study of Haydn, including the highs and lows of his life, his education, experiences, disastrous marriage, and his remarkable attributes as a very fine, admirable human being. There are many extracts of Haydn's music ~~ there could have been more, sure, but this relatively short course concentrates on his life. In lecture 2, there were also extracts from the works of other composers to highlight those who influenced Haydn in the Classical period. This course gives the homage which is overwhelmingly due to the great master Haydn... I was firmly inspired to listen to Haydn's works in full, have already bought a CD of Haydn's string quartets. My first introduction to Haydn was the Emperor Suite, developed into the German national anthem and the English hymn Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken. I'm looking forward next to Greenberg's short course on the life of Beethoven... and many more of his lecture series.
Date published: 2013-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Greenberg scored with this one! Great course about a great man... I took a risk on this course, after being so disappointed about Dr. Greenberg's presentation on Beethoven. So glad I did. I was inspired to purchase Haydn's complete string quartets and concertos on CD. Superb. Greenberg scored with this one! It is well worth your listen!
Date published: 2013-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Course by Greenberg In this course, Professor Greenberg reviews the life of Franz Haydn. Professor Greenberg is truly one of the stars of TTC's list of professors. His wit and lecture style are truly enjoyable. I enjoy his many humorous descriptions and enthusiasm about the subject. This course briefly reviews the life of Franz Haydn. It does tend to emphasize the biography more than the music, but that is not meant as a complaint -- only a description. All courses by Prof. Greenberg leave me wishing that I had more time to devote to listening to music. But, alas, in these busy days, I don't have much time at all. Fortunately, I can enjoy my forays into the world of great music by listening to these wonderful courses by TTC and Professor Greenberg. I highly recommend this course for those who wish to learn more about the life of Franz Haydn.
Date published: 2013-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Totally Enjoyable Course Dr. Greenberg's course is a masterpiece. I learned about the genre of classical music as well as contrasting it with other styles. The professor's presentation style is wonderful because he brings the listener into the time period being explored and relates those events to modern ones. There is never a dull moment in this course and I looked forward to every lecture. I immediately sought out more of Haydn's music to enjoy. I will be going to London shortly, at the same age as when Haydn went there for the first time. Dr. Greenberg's description of Haydn's adventures in London will provide a highlight to my trip. Anyone who wants to gain a better insight into classical music will appreciate this course.
Date published: 2012-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo Profesor Greenberg This is an excellent course and are we ever glad we listened to it. Professor Greenberg gives a thorough, wonderful picture of the man and his music. We are not classical "experts," but we appreciate music. Although we have enjoyed Haydn's work, we had little familiarity with Haydn's life and he always seemed rather formal and distant, until Prof Greenberg made Haydn come alive. We now share the assessment many of his contemporaries gave him -- he has now become a decent and admirable human being (an assessment shared by many of his contemporaries in the competitive realm of professional composers) as well as a superb artist. Listening to a course like this is a major improvement over reading a bibliography or just listening to some of his works. Professor Greenberg's teaching style is also excellent. He gave a wonderful selection from Haydn's repertoire and his enthusiasm and curiosity about the composer was infectious. After listening to this course, we bought seven of the eight eight-lecture Great Masters courses and we also ordered two Haydn CD's based on the recommendations of the course..
Date published: 2012-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Forgotten Genius It seems as if Haydn has been overshadowed by Mozart and Beethoven. At least I know he has in my own musical background. But Prof. Greenberg makes the life story of Haydn come alive. Haydn's music speaks for itself. Greenberg very ably covers the various phases of Haydn's life and career and does so with great enthusiasm and respect. I found of special interest the firm friendship and mutual admiration between Haydn and Mozart. At only $19.95 (for audio download), this is a fantastic buy and well worth it both in terms of money and the wealth of information.
Date published: 2012-09-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what I expected The language that this professor uses surprised me. I expected these DVDs to be of a high standard and free from bad words. The instruction on these DVDs may be fine, but his language completely turned me off. It may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but for me it is.
Date published: 2012-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Finest by Professor Greenberg Once in a while, you come across something which transports you to a very different world. Bob Greenberg's lectures on Haydn belong to that category. The struggles of Haydn, his immense talent, his extraordinary qualities as a leader , friend and critic, his life's high & low points - all come through amazingly well in this study of Haydn. To top it all, the way he presents one of the high points of Haydn's Opus Magnum - The Creation - ' let there be light' at the near end, brought tears into my eyes. A truly magnificent achievement.
Date published: 2012-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating Biographical Introduction This is my third course with Prof. Greenberg. I find his lecture style engaging and his love for the 'literature' contagious. He is a gifted and enthusiastic story-teller. At the start of this course, I wouldn't have been able to tell 'baroque' music from 'classical' era pieces. By the end, I think I developed an appreciation for the difference (I was concurrently watching Greenberg's Bach course, which also helped solidify my understanding of what is meant by 'baroque'). A number of the musical examples in this course inspired me to go listen to the compositions in their entirety. As the title suggests, this is very much a biographical sketch - there isn't a lot of music theory. In the Bach course I mentioned, sometimes one or two lectures are given to analyze a short musical sample in some depth. This course moves at a much faster pace, but still increased my appreciation for Haydn's work. I really had only one complaint: I'm a relative newcomer to Classical music, but I've been a connoisseur of the traditional folk music of Ireland and Scotland for a very long time. The Brilliant Classics collection of Haydn's surviving works spans 150 discs and 18 of those are given over to Haydn's arrangements of Irish, Scottish and Welsh folksongs, but there was no discussion in the course of this musical output or the circumstances that produced it. Since this is more than 1/10th of Haydn's surviving output, I would have liked at least a brief discussion of it. I can understand that this might not be the most interesting stuff to the classical historian, but 5 minutes of lecture (like the brief intro to the baryton works) would have been nice. In all, an enjoyable, informative course. I'm looking forward to others in this 'Life and Music' series.
Date published: 2011-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof Greenberg's courses are a sure bet If you want an entertaining, factual, fun and useful course on a musical genius, you'll like this course. I delved into Haydn after listening to Mozart, and I like Haydn just as much. Prof. Greenberg knows how to bring out the personalities and atmosphere. Prof Greenberg's courses are always good.
Date published: 2011-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from nice guys sometimes finish first as a newly-minted haydn fan i naturally enjoyed this course. and for a biography of a composer it has the rare distinction of being a genuine feel-good story in which an honestly nice guy works hard and becomes incredibly successful as a result. robert greenberg is in his usual form, and if the presentation may not be *quite* as polished as in “how to listen to & understand great music,” that’s presumably only because he got to redo the latter twice. highlights for me included the sampling of all three movements of haydn’s very first symphony, a rare experience which becomes all the more poignant when we listen to an excerpt from his last. another treat was the overview of those rarely-heard composers who straddled the baroque and the classical styles and who were thus formative influences on haydn. a similar overview of the precursors to the string quartet illustrated nicely how a baroque form became the classical. i found that haydn’s life fit nicely into eight lectures; however it might have been nice to have 2-4 additional ones so that we could linger over certain representative works. we do sample a fair bit of haydn’s music, but we rarely get to spend much time on any one piece. that said, i think i disagree with an earlier reviewer who complained that we don’t get enough music. i counted at least eleven musical excerpts in lecture two alone, and while of course one would always enjoy more music, presumably one buys a lecture series because one wants to hear the lectures. and if we expect this course to do no more than what can be done in a mere eight lectures, it will not disappoint.
Date published: 2011-08-18
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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.