Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Johann Strauss Jr.

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Johann Strauss – Father and Sons

In 2014, I was asked by The Great Courses/The Teaching Company to figure out a way to make a 24-lecture, 16-hour course that minimized the cost of licensing music for musical examples.  Upfront: I thought then – as I do now – that this was a case of penny wise and pound foolish, as a music course needs, in the end, to feature . . . music.   Whatever; I complied, and in 2015 we recorded Music as a Mirror of History, which explores certain works as personifying certain specific, historic events.  As such, Music as a Mirror of History is a history course with music, rather than a music course with history.  I read and learned a lot writing the course, and was tickled no end when, after its release, I received inquiries asking me how many research assistants I had employed in its making.  “Not a single one” was my repeated response.  “How do you know so much?”, I was asked in return. As the nerdish, CIA analyst Joseph Turner says in Joseph Grady’s Six Days of the Condor (shortened to Three Days of the Condor in the movie, starring Robert Redford), “I just read books.” Lecture 10 […]

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Dr. Bob Prescribes ‘Die Fledermaus’

Yesterday’s Music History Monday marked the occasion, on January 20, 1982, when Ozzy Osborne bit the head off of a dead and decaying bat during a performance at the Des Moines Veterans Memorial Auditorium. To his credit, Osbourne thought that the bat-like other such rodents and reptiles tossed on stage during his performances – was a toy. However, this fact should not absolve him of being a disgusting, drug-and-alcohol addled, pee-in-your-beer-mug (a favorite game of his) slime bucket; on other occasions Osbourne was known to have purposely consumed living creatures. For example, in 1981, smashed off his gourd during a meeting with record company executives in Los Angeles, he bit the heads off of two live doves to show his displeasure with the progress of the negotiations. In 1984, on tour with the heavy metal and umlaut-abusing band Mötley Crüe, Osbourne participated in gross-out competitions with the bass guitarist Nikki Sixx. It was during such a contest that Osbourne snorted a line of ants from the pavement and then allowed them to crawl out of his mouth. That’s a winner. But back to the bat. I’d suggest that we do not perceive them as the sweet, furry, adorable, pug-nosed creature […]

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