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The Concerto

Go behind the scenes of one of music's most challenging forms—the concerto—which features brilliant soloists pushed to their very limits, in this enthralling course by Robert Greenberg.
The Concerto is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 62.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from I think the best of Greenberg's lectures Perhaps the best of Professor Greenberg’s courses that I have heard thus far. He does a fantastic job explaining musical form and how it developed. His exposition also contains the hallmarks of Professor Greenberg’s series – musical analysis, biographical background, historical context and his fantastic sense of humor. He is an animated speaker who explains concepts so clearly. He is a joy to hear.
Date published: 2024-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Amazing breath of knowledge and great insight into theconcerto
Date published: 2023-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great music appreciation and storytelling! These lectures are the perfect combination of Music Appreciation, History, and Biography. Prof. Greenberg is a captivating storyteller and music expert who shows imagination and creativity in organizing his lectures relating the stories and music of a wide variety of composers including several I had never heard of. A very good balance of music excerpts and background explanation. Rewarding, and worth every minute of time spent listening. I learned a great deal and intend to purchase more of his courses.
Date published: 2022-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In depth This is a great course that provides a great deal of background on the concerto and the various composers. The instructor knows the material, is engaging, and funny. Very worthwhile.
Date published: 2022-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Concerto I bought this a mouth ago as a Christmas present for me personally. I am so glad I did. Thank You Great Courses for making these courses available to us !
Date published: 2022-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! I am about 2/3 through this course and I am so happy I bought it. I have learned so much and gained even more appreciation of this form of classical music. I like almost all types of music, but classical is my go-to for relaxation and general listening. Professor Greenberg makes it even more enjoyable with his passion and engaging style.
Date published: 2021-11-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed I bought this course believing that it was a instant video. I received instead an instant audio. I did return the course because I believe that the just the audio doesn't work for me.
Date published: 2021-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Concerto I just can't get enough of Greenberg---articulate, knowledgeable, and funny!!!
Date published: 2020-06-24
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A concerto is exciting in ways that no other instrumental music can match. Where a symphony enthralls us with themes that are contrasted


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.


San Francisco Performances

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.

You can find more music content from Robert Greenberg on Patreon:

By This Professor

The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works
Music as a Mirror of History
Great Music of the 20th Century
Symphonies of Beethoven
The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition
The Voice in the Wilderness

01: The Voice in the Wilderness

Alessandro Stradella was the first to compose works now recognized as concerti. His Sonata in D Major for Trumpet and Strings from around 1680 is really a concerto and shows how operatic technique is transferred to instrumental music.

51 min
The Baroque Italian Concerto

02: The Baroque Italian Concerto

Giuseppe Torelli pioneered the three-movement concerto as well as "ritornello" form. Tomaso Albinoni elevated the solo oboe to a position approaching that of the solo violin, while Antonio Vivaldi made the concerto the most important instrumental form during the High Baroque.

46 min
Baroque Masters

03: Baroque Masters

In the first of his musical potpourris, surveying a wide range of concerti and their composers from a given era, Professor Greenberg examines Baroque works by Alessandro Mar'cello, Francesco Geminiani, Francesco Manfredini, Pietro Locatelli, Georg Muffat, Georg Philipp Telemann, and George Frederick Handel.

48 min

04: Bach’s "Brandenburg" Concerti

Johann Sebastian Bach composed transcendent music that married craft, imagination, spiritual depth, and expressive profundity with lyricism, grace, and delicacy. These qualities can be found in his six "Brandenburg" concert - supreme masterworks that are unmatched by any concerti before those of Mozart.

46 min
Mozart, Part 1

05: Mozart, Part 1

The solo concerto became the predominant type of concerto during the Classical era. The era's brightest star, Wolfgang Mozart, was arguably the greatest composer of concerti who ever lived. This lecture focuses on his Concerto no. 4 in D Major for Violin, K. 218; and Concerto for Flute in G Major, K. 313.

47 min
Mozart, Part 2

06: Mozart, Part 2

This lecture explores Mozart's Oboe Concerto in C Major, K. 271k; Horn Concerto in E flat Major, K. 495; "Sinfonia Concertante" in E flat Major for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra, K. 364; Concerto in E flat Major for Two Pianos, K. 365; Piano Concerto no. 20 in D Minor, K. 466; Piano Concerto no. 21 in C Major, K. 467; and Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622.

48 min
Classical Masters

07: Classical Masters

The second of Professor Greenberg's musical potpourris examines the rich environment of pre-Classical and Classical-era concerti. Featured are works by Giuseppe Tartini, Johann Joachim Quantz, Frederick II of Prussia, Johann Christian Bach, and Joseph Haydn, whose Trumpet Concerto in E flat Major is considered the greatest of his surviving concerti.

46 min

08: Beethoven

With its inherent principle of contrast, the concerto was an ideal vehicle for Ludwig van Beethoven, whose belief that expressive content should determine form resulted in an unheard of degree of formal flexibility. This lecture discusses his Triple Concerto for Violin, 'Cello, and Piano in C Major, op. 56; and Piano Concerto no. 4 in G Major, op. 58.

47 min
The Romantic Concerto

09: The Romantic Concerto

The Romantic era's focus on virtuosity resulted in the predominance of the soloist over the orchestra, exemplified in Niccolo Paganini's Violin Concerto no. 1 in D Major. With Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto no. 1 in E flat Major, even traditional double exposition form disappeared in the face of the heroic soloist.

47 min
Hummel and Chopin

10: Hummel and Chopin

Frederick Chopin considered his compositional style to have evolved from Mozart. Chopin's link to Mozart was Mozart's student Johann Nepomuk Hummel, whose Piano Concerto in B Minor, op. 89, is featured in this lecture. Of Chopin's two piano concerti, Piano Concerto no. 2 in F Minor, op. 21, is discussed.

47 min
Mendelssohn and Schumann

11: Mendelssohn and Schumann

This lecture compares and contrasts two Romantic-era giants, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann. Featured are Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto in G Minor, op. 25; and Violin Concerto in E Minor, op. 64; followed by Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 54; and 'Cello Concerto in A Minor, op. 129.

46 min
Romantic Masters

12: Romantic Masters

Professor Greenberg's third musical potpourri discusses the work of seven Romantic composers, whose concerti are still current on the concert stage and in recording: Henri Vieuxtemps, Henryk Wieniawski, Max Bruch, Edvard Grieg, Moritz Moszkowski, Ignaz Paderewski, and Richard Strauss.

47 min

13: Tchaikovsky

Excoriated by colleagues and critics alike, Tchaikovsky's concerti ultimately triumphed to become cornerstones of the repertoire. This lecture explores his Piano Concerto no. 1 in B flat Minor, op. 23; Piano Concerto no. 2 in G Major, op. 44; and Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35, arguably his single greatest work and one of the greatest concerti of the 19th century.

47 min
Brahms and the Symphonic Concerto

14: Brahms and the Symphonic Concerto

Johannes Brahms's compositional style is a synthesis of the clear and concise musical forms and genres of the Classical and Baroque eras, and the melodic, harmonic, and expressive palette of the Romantic era in which he lived. This lecture examines in depth his monumental Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat Major, op. 83.

47 min

15: Dvorak

Antonin Dvorak appreciated Mozart and the clear constructs of Classical-era music, infused with a Beethovenian expressivity, and a Romantic melodic and harmonic language. His 'Cello Concerto in B Minor, op. 104, is likely the finest 'cello concerto in the repertoire.

47 min

16: Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff displays a high degree of lyricism and drama, and a preference for the minor mode that often tinges his music with melancholy. This lecture explores his Piano Concerto no. 1 in F sharp Minor, op. 1; Piano Concerto no. 2 in C Minor, op. 18; and Piano Concerto no. 3 in D Minor, op. 30.

49 min
The Russian Concerto, Part 1

17: The Russian Concerto, Part 1

Music of Alexander Glazunov, who reconciled 19th-century Russian musical nationalism with German compositional style, is the foundation on which this examination of the Russian concerto is based. This lecture examines such works as his Violin Concerto in A Minor, op. 82, as well as concerti by Dmitri Kabalevsky and Aram Khachaturian.

48 min
The Russian Concerto, Part 2

18: The Russian Concerto, Part 2

Sergei Prokofiev had a wry and acerbic personality that found its way into his music. This lecture discusses his Piano Concerto no. 1 in D flat Major, op. 10; Piano Concerto no. 3 in C Major, op. 26; and Violin Concerto no. 2 in G Minor, op. 63, a work designed for performance in the Soviet Union. Dmitri Shostakovich, whose output of concerti is modest compared to his symphonies and string quartets, is represented by his Piano Concerto no. 1 in C Minor, op. 35; Piano Concerto no. 2 in F Major, op. 102; Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, op. 77; and his 'Cello Concerto no. 1 in E flat Major, op. 107, a work composed for his friend Mstislav Rostropovich.

48 min
The Concerto in France

19: The Concerto in France

This lecture explores the concerti of French composers Maurice Ravel, Jacques Ibert, François Poulenc, and Henri Dutilleux. All were profoundly influenced by the French language in their love of sound, a penchant for long melodies, a tendency toward slow harmonic turnover, and an emphasis on thematic variation.

48 min

20: Bartok

Bela Bartok combined elements from Eastern European folk music, a love for Classical-era forms, a Beethoven-inspired mastery of motivic development and an innate sense of drama to create a viscerally exciting and intellectually rewarding music. This lecture discusses his Piano Concerto no. 2 and his Concerto for Orchestra, one of the great orchestral masterworks of the 20th century.

47 min
Schönberg, Berg and the 12-Tone Method

21: Schönberg, Berg and the 12-Tone Method

Arnold Schönberg was one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. As an example of his 12-tone music, this lecture looks at the viscerally powerful Piano Concerto, op. 42. Also examined is the haunting Violin Concerto of Schönberg's student, Alban Berg, whose use of the 12-tone technique in this work is stunningly expressive and lyric.

47 min
Twentieth-Century Masters

22: Twentieth-Century Masters

Professor Greenberg's fourth musical potpourri explores five composers and five concerto masterworks from the 20th century: Jean Sibelius's Violin Concerto in D Minor, op. 47; Carl Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto, op. 57; William Walton's Viola Concerto; Aaron Copland's Piano Concerto; and Albert Ginastera's Piano Concerto no. 1.

47 min
Elliott Carter

23: Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter's great achievement is his ability to meld completely different, simultaneous musical elements into a convincing and homogeneous whole. This lecture focuses on his incredibly complex Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano of 1961, which is also his greatest orchestral work.

46 min
Servants to the Cause and Guilty Pleasures

24: Servants to the Cause and Guilty Pleasures

In the final lecture Professor Greenberg looks at the relationship between soloist, conductor, and orchestra in the performance of concerti. Next he focuses on some composers and superb concerti that have not been discussed thus far in the course. Finally, he lists composers to watch - living composers of concerti whose careers are well worth following.

48 min