Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

How To Listen And Understand Great Music at 37,000 Feet!

How To Listen And Understand Great MusicI’ve done a good bit of travel by air over the course of the last 35 years, long enough to observe (and experience) an incredible degradation in air travel.

To my mind, airports themselves have always been bad. I long ago decided that once I entered an airport – any airport – it was best to assume I had entered a maximum-security “rehabilitation facility”. With this in mind I could accept that the airport, as a manifestation of fate, controlled my destiny. My time no longer belonged to me; nor did my body, and if the “airport” chose to delay (or cancel) a flight, or hold me at passport control, or pull me out of a security line and subject me to a cavity search, my best recourse was – and remains – to keep my mouth shut and do my best to go with the flow.

In sum: I don’t particularly like airports. (Especially now that the prices in duty-free are, like, twice what you’d pay in Costco. What’s that all about?)

Once boarded and underway, the actual flights were, for me, infinitely less onerous. There was food to eat, empty seats to stretch out on, unlimited bags to check, pillows to lie on, blankets to stay warm beneath and, given my flight status, upgrades to be had more often than not.

As we all know, those days are as dead as dialup. Unless you’re willing to fork over the big bucks for business class, flying today more closely resembles traveling on a crowded city bus than anything else.

Which is why I am so tickled to find out that Virgin America is actually offering something good and useful and beautiful to its flyers, something that’s never been offered by a commercial airline before. Yes! Yes, yes! As of February 1, Virgin America began offering a selection of free lectures from The Great Courses, including a lecture of mine from my 48-lecture, 36-hour “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music.” Could this – possibly – be the start of a trend: offering something of lasting value to folks otherwise trapped and defenseless in an aluminum tube at 37,000 feet? American, Delta, United: are you paying attention?

Air travel. There might be some hope for something better after all.


  1. Dr. Bill Creasy

    That’s great news, Bob. I’m in the air a lot: Ireland on May 3rd; Athens on July 3rd; Tel Aviv in October, all on Delta: all with 40+ people, leading teaching tours. I’ll contact Delta. Great idea!