Great Masters: Mozart—His Life and Music

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining and Insightful This is the second class I've taken featuring this gifted instructor and musicologist. I became fascinated with Mozart on a river cruise, and this course definitely fleshes out his story. Never a fan of opera --- with the exception of lighter English-language musical theater and rock operas --- Dr. Greenburg's endorsement of "The Marriage of Figaro" as the greatest opera ever written encouraged me to sit down to watch a video with English subtitles. It turns out I can now say I like opera, although I'd still rather listen to less "perfect" vocalists as a matter of personal taste.
Date published: 2021-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great fast track Mozart Great fast track Mozart - consise yet vivid story, well taught!
Date published: 2020-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Gottlieb"? Did you know that never in his lifetime was Mozart ever known as “Wolfgang Amadeus”? His baptismal name was recorded in Latin as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart; his birth announcement in German gave his name as Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart, as did subsequent legal documents throughout his life. So what’s with the “Amadeus”? Turns out that’s what his widow insisted on after his death. Of the many playful adaptations of and puns on his name, Mozart’s most often preferred way to sign letters was “Amadé,” the French version of Gottlieb / Theophilus (“loved of God”). Constanze Mozart apparently thought the Latinized version of Amadé, “Amadeus,” would give her husband a more dignified air in the annals of history. That’s just one of the fascinating things you’ll learn in this brief but jam-packed course. Prof. Greenberg has done an excellent job in a very short space of giving an admiring but honest picture of the man some consider the world’s greatest composer. One of the most valuable contributions of this course is the way Prof. Greenberg dismantles the myth of Mozart the giggling, irresponsible “man-child” of legend and film. A sober look at their correspondence, their respective financial records, and pure common sense make it clear: Whatever Mozart’s flaws, the real “boy who wouldn’t grow up” was his father Leopold. Indeed, Wolfgang often had to step up to pull his temperamental father out of the holes he dug for himself and his family. The lectures here are interesting enough that I have come back to them many times, for sheer listening pleasure. Prof. Greenberg’s lively, energetic, sometimes comic style combines with vivid storytelling to make Mozart and his time come alive. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Date published: 2020-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly comprehensive I was preparing to see the Folger Theater production of “Amadeus” and decided To buy this class. This class is the second of Professor Greenberg’s that I have purchased. I am retired and have resumed my piano lessons after 45 years. Professor Greenberg brings such depth of knowledge, wit and engagement that I have no doubt that I will buy all of his work available on GC. His ability to present Mozart In such a comprehensive class is truly special. Thank you
Date published: 2019-12-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The most obnoxious ever I bought several lectures by this so-called professor. I choked down a portion of the Beethoven lectures because I am really interested in the classical masters. But I almost threw up. This guy is the most obnoxious speaker it has even been my displeasure to encounter and I have been a professor for over 40 years and heard countless hundreds or even thousands of lectures. (I have delivered over 9000 lectures myself.) I returned all of my Greenberg courses. I have over 40 courses--his are the only ones I have returned. When I teach a graduate class in mathematical communication, this is exactly the behavior I warn my students (hopefully future professors) to avoid. Making horrible jokes and using fake accents is extremely annoying and unprofessional. I guess Greenberg does not understand that people might want to watch/listen to his lectures 3, 4 or more times to absorb the details. If he did, perhaps he would make the lectures more palatable and dispense with the childish style. It is really a shame, because I have a suspicion that if he conducted his lectures more professionally, he would have much of interest to offer.
Date published: 2019-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Information on Mozart! Robert Greenberg presents another phenomenal musical course. This time on Mozart. Great summary of his life and music. I learned lots of stuff that I didn't know about him, his life and music while also clearing up some misperceptions I had about Mozart. Greenberg presents normally serious information in a humorous, enjoyable manner. You will be amazed at his in-depth knowledge of this course and his other courses. Keep your ears tuned for his witty comments. This is just an overall enjoyable course if you want to know more about Mozart.
Date published: 2019-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Master lecturer Robert Greenwood is enthusiastic, inspiring, and gifted as a teacher. I have now purchased three of his audio courses and love them all.
Date published: 2019-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Short, sweet and packed with information! This course is well outlined, entertaining and gives important information in an interesting and concise way. I am using this course to put together a presentation on Mozart for my local Music Teacher's Chapter. It's just what I needed! Thank you!
Date published: 2018-12-03
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1: Introduction

Much of today's Mozart scholarship is about debunking myths; this lecture explores Mozart mythology. The goal of these lectures is to show Mozart to be a person: a talented, hard-working, ambitious man who had friends and enemies and whose music was subject to criticism in his own day.

48 min
Leopold and the Grand Tour
2: Leopold and the Grand Tour

Leopold Mozart dominated his son's life from the start. When Leopold realized that his children, Marianne and Wolfgang, possessed prodigious musical talent, he made them his source of wealth and fame. Their grand tour of 1763–66 made them the sensation of Europe and turned Wolfgang into the child wonder by which we still measure prodigies today. The small, fragile, and desperate-to-please Wolfgang became his family's main breadwinner.

45 min
Mozart the Composer—The Early Music
3: Mozart the Composer—The Early Music

Leopold probably had a hand in creating Mozart's early pieces, but Mozart also learned his craft from Johann Christian Bach, whom Mozart met in London in 1764–65. Mozart also modeled his early works on established Viennese symphonists, and he absorbed the Italian style on his tours of that country in 1769–73. By the time of his second visit to Paris in 1777, Mozart's own compositional voice had emerged.

45 min
4: Paris

The study of Mozart's musical style is often linked with two myths; neither one is true. The first is that Mozart was a vessel for divine inspiration. The second is that he composed without effort, automatically, subconsciously. What makes him different is that he began his apprenticeship at an incredibly young age and was a fully matured composer by the time he was 20. In 1777, Mozart left Salzburg for Paris—a disastrous trip during which his mother died.

45 min
The Flight from Salzburg and Arrival in Vienna
5: The Flight from Salzburg and Arrival in Vienna

Despite the disasters that Mozart endured at the time of his trip to Paris, his creative energy never flagged. Longing to compose an opera, Mozart succeeded in convincing the Elector of Munich to commission the opera Idomeneo from him. The opera was premiered in Munich in 1781 to great success. Mozart married Constanze Weber in August 1782, against his father's wishes. The father-son relationship would be severely strained until Leopold's death five years later.

46 min
Life in Vienna
6: Life in Vienna

Between 1782 and 1786, Mozart reached the peak of his career as a pianist and composer in Vienna. Among his supreme achievements are his piano concerti, string quartets, and the C Minor Mass. His six string quartets, inspired by and dedicated to Haydn, exhibit an expressive range and intensity. Mozart worked extremely hard and earned a great deal of money. His speed of composing and ability to compose in his head are the stuff of legend. But his embittered father disinherited him before dying in 1787.

46 min
Operas in Vienna
7: Operas in Vienna

Poet and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte collaborated with Mozart on his great operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. Mozart's popularity in Vienna began to wane in the late 1780s and he experienced financial hardship; his marriage was strained because of Mozart's real and perceived affairs. Yet he continued to write a series of masterworks, the expressive moods of which seldom, if ever, betrayed his unhappy circumstances.

45 min
The Last Years
8: The Last Years

Mozart's Cosi fan tutte of 1789 was no more successful in Vienna than Don Giovanni had been. By late 1790, Mozart was in financial straits and his health deteriorated further. He wrote little of significance until January 1791: The Magic Flute. He began a Requiem Mass, which remained unfinished at his death on December 5. Among the most famous myths about Mozart's death is that he was poisoned by the Italian composer Antonio Salieri. The most likely theory is that he died from rheumatic fever. Mozart gave us a “picture of a better world” (Franz Schubert), and was, as the composer Rossini put it, “the only composer who had as much knowledge as genius and as much genius as knowledge.”

49 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.