Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes Complete Beethoven Sets

Spending Other People’s Money

I’ve always had a talent for spending other people’s money.

Storefront of hi-fi speakers
Hi-fi shopping: where to start?

35 years ago, when Berkeley California had more hi-fi/stereo shops then fleas on a feral dog, I used to take anyone who asked me stereo shopping. (I had a lot of requests as I was teaching adult extension classes for UC Berkeley, the San Francisco Conservatory, and my own private “living room” classes in San Francisco and Oakland.) I would take folks to the appropriate shop depending upon how much money they wanted to spend. 

Shopping for a decent hi-fi could be intimidating, especially in those days, with the advent of digital equipment. Folks didn’t know what questions to ask, what to listen for, or whether they were being conned by salespeople. I couldn’t be conned; I knew what to listen for and what equipment was good and what was not; I knew which shops were run by honest and knowledgeable managers and which were not; and which shops provided in-home setup and did not charge extra for extended warranties. 

Tower Records in North Beach, San Francisco, closing up shop in 2006
Tragedy; Tower Records in North Beach, San Francisco, closing up shop in 2006

Again, in the early days of digital (1985-1995, or so) I’d take friends to Tower Records (a moment of respectful silence, please) in San Francisco or Berkeley to help them begin building their digital libraries. (I took a physician friend to Tower Records in San Francisco around 1990; he dropped upwards of $4k that day. That was fun!)

Piedmont Piano Company, Oakland
Piedmont Piano Company, Oakland

For decades I have also taken friends and associates piano shopping. (Always at the Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland; great instruments, fairly priced, and warranted up the wazoo whether new or used. This is not an ad; just a testimonial!)

I have happily continued my practice of spending other people’s money on Patreon, by recommending to my beloved patrons, discs and books and whatever other stuff rubs right my rhubarb. So as we finally close out Beethoven’s semiquincentennial (250th birthday) – which should have ended on December 16, 2020, but which we have extended because of the pandemic – I’ve made the executive decision to spend rather more of your money today than usual.…

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