Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music as a Mirror: Session One

This presentation examines concert music as a phenomenon that mirrors the social, political and economic elements of the society around it; participants come to understand changes in musical style and expressive content as a function of larger societal change.  Starting with the music of J.S. Bach and the intellectual climate of the “High Baroque” (ca. 1720), this program then observes the societal changes wrought by the Enlightenment on music of the “Classical Era” (ca. 1780) as manifested in the compositions of W. A. Mozart.  Finally, this program observes, using the violent and expressionistic Symphony No. 5 of Ludwig van Beethoven, the impact of the Age of Revolution and Napoleon on the music of Beethoven’s time (ca. 1808).

Other topics discussed include the nature and conception of “the composer”, Beethoven’s gastro-intestinal problems (not pretty, but relevant), architecture and design in the 18th century, and the applicability of the concept of “music as a mirror” to the popular music of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Music heard and discussed includes works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Pat Ballard, and Jimi Hendrix.

GOALS: to gain an understanding that the same large-scale issues and events that shape any society – politics, economics, and religion – determine and shape the “sound” of the music consumed by that society.

Session length: 75 – 90 minutes

Contact Robert for Speaking on this Topic