Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Symphony


The great Bohemian-born composer Gustav Mahler once said, “A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.” Over the course of its nearly 300-year life, the symphony has indeed embraced almost every trend to be found in Western concert music.

The Details

In this series of 24 45-minute lectures, Professor Robert Greenberg guides the listener on a survey of the symphony. You’ll listen to selections from the greatest symphonies by many of the greatest composers of the past 300 years. You’ll also hear selections from some overlooked works that, undeservedly, have been forgotten by contemporary audiences.

The Symphony – An Overview:

  • Origins (Lectures 1–2)
  • The Early Symphonies and J.S. Bach’s Sons (Lectures 3–5)
  • Haydn and Mozart: Titans of the Classical Age (Lectures 6–8)
  • Beethoven, Romanticism, and the Reconciliation with Classicism (Lectures 9–12)
  • National and Local Development in Russia, France, Vienna, Bohemia, Scandinavia, Great Britain, and America (Lectures 13–22)
  • Messiaen and Shostakovich (Lectures 23-24)

The Symphony Lectures

  1. Let’s Take it from the Top!
  2. The Concerto and the Orchestra
  3. The Pre-Classical Symphony
  4. Mannheim
  5. Classical Masters
  6. Franz Joseph Haydn, Part 1
  7. Franz Joseph Haydn, Part 2
  8. Mozart
  9. Beethoven
  10. Schubert
  11. Berlioz and the Symphonie fantastique
  12. Mendelssohn and Schumann
  13. Franck, Saint-Saens, and the Symphony in France
  14. Nationalism and the Symphony
  15. Brahms, Bruckner, and the Viennese Symphony
  16. Gustav Mahler
  17. Nielsen and Sibelius
  18. The Symphony in Russia
  19. Charles Ives
  20. Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber
  21. Roy Harris and William Schuman
  22. The Twentieth-Century British Symphony
  23. Olivier Messiaen and Turangalila
  24. Dmitri Shostakovich and his Tenth Symphony