Great Masters: Mahler—His Life and Music

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Heights and the Depths Achingly beautiful. Masterfully told. Mahler suffered and showed us how it felt, so be careful not to listen to the first two lectures when you are depressed. According to Schachtel in his Metamorphosis, artists suffer emotionally; Science keeps us on a more even keel. I remember going to the Vienna Funkhaus to hear Mahler's Fourth Symphony. I was 27 and noticed the power of the music, but not the pain. Now I'm 81 and was struck by the depths of the manic-depressive emotion in this wonderful look into Mahler's life and work.
Date published: 2019-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another fascinating series of lectures This series on Mahler was included in the package of Great Master composers that I purchased. As I have listened to each of the biographies of the 10 composers who were included in this package, I have fallen in love with that composer to the exclusion of the others. When I listened to Schuman's bio, I thought what a great, tortured soul; I loved him, I loved his music. I was convinced I wouldn't like that Liszt guy...only to find quite to the contrary. In the end I have ended up loving and appreciating each of these masters. Professor Greenberg loves his subject matter and it shows as he makes you love it as well. Now I am finishing up Mahler and, as with the previous 7 (I have been listening to them in chronological order), I will really miss this man, Herr Mahler. I keep listening to his symphony #1 over and over. As Professor G is pretty even-handed in describing his subjects' complexities, their positives and negatives, I have been able to understand their human side as well as their genius natures. I would like to thank Dr. Greenberg for his wonderful, enthusiastic and entertaining presentations. I am sure I will return to these lectures again as they are so dense I have much left to learn and re-learn. I am quite a novice at classical music and Dr. G has greatly enriched my appreciation of this genre. I have even visited the symphony a couple times for the first time in my life. I so much appreciate this, even at my age, 65, there is so much still in life to discover and appreciate. Thank you
Date published: 2019-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Loved it, enjoyed it and learned from it. What more can I ask? Well, in this time and age, some short videos would make it even more atractive. Example: seeing the orchestra and choruses fro Mahler's 8th Symphomy will make even clearer the Symphony of a thousqand nickname.
Date published: 2019-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastic presentation! Dr. Greenberg gives a highly spirited series of lectures on this influential master. Mahler's complex personality and his complex music are analyzed in a directly understandable overview. Much deeper appreciation of this profound composer and conductor. The only improvement? Recordings of music conducted by Mahler himself!
Date published: 2019-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mahler and (some) Music I am not as familiar with Mahler’s music as I am with many of the “Great Masters” that Dr. Greenberg presents. As the course progressed, I was amazed that I knew far more about the music than the man. Professor Greenberg has done a fine job in sketching out the difficult journey from childhood through adulthood to the last years of a very difficult man. So much was new to me about Mahler. His difficult childhood, failed love affairs, his marriage to a much younger woman, his ill treatment of her (and of many, perhaps most others) and more. All of this was fascinating, but not so much as how his life’s issues found their way into his music. Professor Greenberg delivers all of this with his usual panache and low-brow humor. All to the good. But for me there are cons. And in this course about a man and his music, the music comes up short. To be sure, I normally pass over reviews that wish the lecturer had included more music, as I normally find that the courses include enough music to illustrate the point being made (easy enough to listen to complete pieces on my own). Naturally a course on opera will have more (and more lengthy) examples, than, for example a biography on Mozart. And this is a course about the life of Mahler. Still neither lecture 2 nor lecture 5 contain any music at all. To be fair, lecture 2 focuses on Mahler as a conductor and number 5 discusses how he met and won his wife, as well as more conducting gigs. And many of the other lectures contain enough musical excerpts to satisfy my expectations. I am pretty sure Professor Greenberg is knowledgeable and smart enough to work in one or two samples in those two lectures. Enough carping—a fine course and I learned a lot.
Date published: 2017-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite of the Great Master Series! No clearly discernable indications were noted in this course, but I wonder if Greenberg didn't consider Mahler as one of his personal favorites as composer people go. Greenberg is knowledgeable and energetic/entertaining as usual. Having watched these lectures, I am left with a much greater interest in Mahler and his music. I also wonder about Mahler's heart valve diagnosis in a context of what is known today about heart disease. Hey Doc, how about another opinion!
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fine Prof. Greenberg is the best. I have many of his recordings.
Date published: 2017-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Music & Life Prof. Robert Greenberg's presentation is lively, enthusiastic and engaging. [and at times entertaining] This course is full of facts about Mahler's life [as well as his closest family and friends]. The musical analysis is insightful and revealing. Prof. Greenberg does an excellent job demonstrating how the music and the man influenced or drove each other to the extremes of emotions and creative output. The musical examples are wonderful. I went in with a 'curiosity' about a few of Mahler's symphonies and came away with a wide-eyed appreciation for the music, the man, the mind, the musical times of all his symphonies as well as lieder.
Date published: 2016-07-28
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Introduction and Childhood
1: Introduction and Childhood

From the time he was quite young, Mahler was entranced by music and became devoted to the piano from about the age of five. One of the most significant aspects of his life was his sense of alienation, brought on largely by his Jewish heritage. Tensions created by the Czech, Germanic, and Jewish culture of which Mahler was a part may be one of the elements that makes his work so striking and fascinating.

47 min
Mahler the Conductor
2: Mahler the Conductor

Mahler's early life was deeply affected by the death of his brother and influenced by the work of Richard Wagner. He studied, composed, and became a conductor at the Royal Hungarian Opera in Budapest.

44 min
Early Songs and Symphony No. 1
3: Early Songs and Symphony No. 1

Mahler's years in Budapest were quite successful. He composed many lieder, German romantic songs. In 1887, Mahler discovered a poetic anthology, Des knaben Wunderhorn, or The Youth's Magic Horn, which became one of his greatest inspirations. Later that year he began composing his Symphony no. 1, which focuses on the struggle between hope and despair.

46 min
The Wunderhorn Symphonies
4: The Wunderhorn Symphonies

In 1893 Mahler returned to composing, beginning with Symphony no. 2, the first of the so-called Wunderhorn symphonies. Symphony no. 3, written almost immediately after the second, is a natural companion piece. The Symphony no. 4 is Mahler's "classical" symphony, addressing a child's innocent view of life and heaven without the intervening step of death.

48 min
Alma and Vienna
5: Alma and Vienna

In November of 1901, Mahler met Alma Schindler, and in March of the following year, the two were married. His appointment as music director in 1897 at the Vienna Opera created a firestorm in the press, but his debut was a triumph. He also instituted reforms at the opera, and his first few years there were phenomenally successful.

42 min
Family Life and Symphony No. 5
6: Family Life and Symphony No. 5

Mahler experienced the best years of his life from 1902 to 1907. He and Alma had started a family and built a summerhouse where Mahler could compose. In 1902, Mahler completed his Symphony no. 5, a superb example of the Expressionist art movement. Mahler befriended Arnold Schönberg, one of the most well-known Expressionist composers of the early 20th century.

47 min
Symphony No. 6, and Das Lied von der Erde
7: Symphony No. 6, and Das Lied von der Erde

Three events shattered the Mahlers' lives in 1907: his resignation from the Royal Vienna Opera, the death of their elder daughter, and the diagnosis of his heart disease. In 1908, Mahler threw himself into composing Das Lied von der Erde as an attempt to find solace from the grief of his daughter's death. The work is a symphonic song cycle about loss, grief, memory, disintegration, and transfiguration.

45 min
Das Lied, Final Symphonies, and the End
8: Das Lied, Final Symphonies, and the End

Mahler next completed Symphony no. 9, which is filled with contemplation of his own mortality. Symphony no. 10 was left incomplete at his death. During this time, Mahler was working in New York and spending the off seasons in Europe. He died in Vienna in 1911; according to Alma his last word was: "Mozart!"

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.

ALMA MATER

University of California, Berkeley

INSTITUTION

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.