Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

News – Page 3

Talking “Improvising” with the Break It Down Show

I recently joined the “Break It Down Show” podcast to talk about Scandalous Overtures, the Bay Area, technology and why certain artists’ work endures. Listen to the show at the Break It Down Show website! Listen Now!  

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Robert Greenberg on WXXI Connections With Evan Dawson

WXXI Connections welcomed Robert Greenberg to the program December 12th to talk about The Great Courses and Scandalous Overtures: We welcome one of the most dynamic music educators in the country, professor Robert Greenberg. He’s hosting a new online show on Ora TV and has taught dozens of classes on music for The Great Courses series. http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wxxi/audio/2014/12/Connections-12-12-14Hr2.mp3 Visit WXXInews.org for more!

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Reddit AMA — December 19th

I’m so looking forward to my Reddit AMA on December 19! I will do my level best to answer – politely and accurately – all questions, up to and including whether (or not) one should kiss on a first date (although I still have yet to determine why you drive on a parkway and park in a driveway or whether Certs is, indeed, a breath-mint or a candy-mint). As for places to start: I would remind us all that the period between December 16 and 22 might well be called a “Beethoven-rich temporal environment.”December 16 marked his 244th birthday and December 22 the 206th anniversary of the single most famous concert of all time, which saw the premieres of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, his Fourth Piano Concerto, his Choral Fantasy Op. 80 as well as performances of a host of other works.Forget the Stones at Altamont; Beethoven’s concert was an EVENT. Join us on Reddit Music for musings and more this Friday at 12pm PT. UPDATE: See the Answers NOW!

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Coming Out of a Month of Anniversaries

I received an email from a friend yesterday inquiring about my “radio silence” over the last few weeks. Aside from the occasional notice posted on this site, silent I have been: I have not actually blogged in over 6 weeks, since October 4th. Not that I have been missed what with all the other nonsense going on in the world, but I would still offer up the following explanation, if only as a cautionary tale for those who might make the same mistake that I did. October is, for me, a month of difficult anniversaries. I have learned, then, to occupy myself with mundane, repetitive tasks that preclude me from “thinking too much.” Consequently, this year I decided to begin a project I’ve been putting off for years: scanning family photos. I do not have an addictive personality. Neither am I particularly obsessive, though my first spousal unit – not without justification – considered me to be an obsessive collector. However, nothing could have prepared me for the single-minded, all-encompassing obsession of going through and scanning photographs once I began the process. Cliché though it sounds, the experience was drug-like at times, as people, places and time flew past in […]

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Explorations in Music, KALW, The Alexander String Quartet & Relationships

The old line goes that being a member of a professional string quartet is like being married to three people, except there’s no sex and nobody cooks. The lack of food and sex notwithstanding, professional quartet membership IS a marriage. The members of a quartet live for and with each other; they depend on each other; they spend countless hours with each other through sickness and in health and along the way survive the ups and downs inherent in any long-term relationship. They rehearse together and, in doing so, they constantly compromise in order to create a musical whole greater than the sum of their individual parts; they travel together (when a string quartet travels, it must book FIVE airline seats: one for each of the players and one for the ‘cello); nightly, they experience together the stress and trial and potential disaster (and occasional glory) of public concertizing. If the musical and personal chemistry between its four members are not right, a string quartet – no matter how good the players are, individually – cannot succeed or survive. The magnificent Alexander String Quartet was founded in New York in 1981. After 33 years, the ASQ is still going strong, […]

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Composers, Inc. News

I’m about to become even more tiresome than usual in my promotion of the new music performance group “Composers, Inc.” Founded in 1984, Composers, Inc. is dedicated to the creation and performance of new American music. There are no Euro-composers, alive or dead, on its programs; goodness knows, the Euros have enough venues already. Neither will you find metabolically challenged (i.e., deceased) American composers on the programs of Composers, Inc. (although the organization will, on rare occasion, mark the passing of an American composer with a performance). No, the mission of Composers, Inc. is to perform (and commission) works by living Americans, particularly emerging composers. My interest in the group is both personal and professional. For 29 years I have been one of the “composers” who directs the group (I was asked to join when the organization was just a year old), and on May 1 of this year I was elected president of its Board of Directors. Check out our beautiful website! My election means that you, my friends, will have to endure my ongoing efforts to enlist Board members, raise moolah/dinero/buckaroonies, build audience, etc. etc. The Board and money can wait; the remainder of this post is about […]

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Shostakovich — His Life and Music Playlist

Enjoy five excerpts from the “Great Masters: Shostakovich — His Life and Music” course in a new playlist on the Robert Greenberg YouTube Channel. Lecture highlights in the playlist: Shostakovich — His Life and Music: An Introduction Lady Macbeth The Fifth Symphony The Tenth Symphony The Eighth String Quartet Buy the Course More Great Courses Discover the extraordinary life, times, and art of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975), great musical master and flawed but faithful witness to the survival of the human spirit under totalitarianism. He is without a doubt one of the absolutely central composers of the 20th century. His symphonies and string quartets are mainstays of the repertoire. But Shostakovich is also a figure whose story raises challenging and exciting issues that go far beyond music: They touch on questions of conscience, of the moral role of the artist, of the plight of humanity in the face of total war and mass oppression, and of the inner life of history’s bloodiest century.

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The New York Times Features The Great Courses

A most interesting article on The Great Courses (TGC) appeared in the New York Times on Saturday. TGC has been featured in newspaper articles before: scads of articles, in fact, over the last 20-plus years. But those articles (at least the ones I’m aware of and I am aware of most of them) have always focused on the content of TGC offerings: that they are academic courses offered up on audio/video media. This article, written by the Times’ TV critic Neil Genzlinger, is different. It focuses on TGC as a video production company and on TGC courses as slick, professional, high-end television programs. My goodness, how times have changed. Long-time readers of this blog will recall my descriptions of TGC in its early days. I would rehash a bit of that if only to highlight the incredible evolution of the company from a startup to the polished gem it is today. I made my first course back in May of 1993: the first edition of “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music”. We had no “set”; I worked in front of a blue screen (or a “traveling matte”). The halogen lighting created an unbelievable amount of heat and glare. […]

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“The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works” Wins a TELLY Award

. . . and finally [small tear running down cheek] . . . I’d like to thank the Academy [*choke*] . . . I’d like to thank the Academy . . . for . . . for . . .FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! WHAT A BUNCH OF LOSERS! YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A PACK OF GROVELING, PEA-BRAINED WEASELS: BLOOD-SUCKING PARASITES ON THE BODY OF ART; OPEN, OOZING CARBUNCLES ON THE ASS OF PROGRESS! Yes, YES: PUT THAT ON YOUR PIZZA AND EAT IT! One day, before we all pass on to the great unknown, one day – perhaps – we’ll be lucky enough to hear an award acceptance speech end just that way. It would become an instant classic, among the most quoted, listened to and viewed bits of spontaneous media since Sally Field’s “You like me!” speech at the Academy Awards and Ed Ames’ tomahawk-to-the groin on the Johnny Carson show. Given my own occasional proclivity towards ingratitude, it is just as well that when I received a “Telly Award” back in May, I was standing in a nearly empty corner of an office building in Chantilly, Virginia, accompanied only by my great pal Ed Leon of The Great Courses (with […]

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A Day with OraTV

Monday was a fantastic day. I would beg your indulgence as I describe it. I will be forgiven upfront for namedropping as yesterday was about meeting some very special people. First things first. My wife Nanci was my boon companion from moment one. Nanci’s presence was a wise choice for any number of reasons, aside from the simple joy having my life-mate on my arm. Number one: I needed a built-in cheering squad. Number two: I needed a personal photographer who would document the events of the day. Number three: if I HADN’T asked Nanci to join me I would likely never heard the end of it, so . . . join me she did. We took a 7:55 flight out of Oakland (Oaktown) California, which put us in Burbank at 9 AM. We were picked up by Danielle, who was our driver-tour-guide-confidante-escort for the day. From the airport it was a hop-skip-and-jump to the Ora TV studios in Glendale. Once we arrived, I was “made up” and – when the time came – I sat down with Larry King and did my interview. A word, please. I have been interviewed many times: by the New York Times; by The […]

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