Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for The Music of the Twentieth Century

Music History Monday: Pierrot Lunaire

There are certain first performances that we celebrate as being among the seminal events in music history. For example (and we would do well to memorize these dates!), the first performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s groundbreaking opera Orfeo occurred at Florence’s Pitti Palace on Friday, February 24, 1607. Handel’s Messiah was first performed on Tuesday, April 13, 1742 at Great Music Hall in Fishamble Street in Dublin; the performance began at 12 noon. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony received its premiere at Vienna’s Kärntnertor Theater on Friday, May 7, 1824, in a concert that began at 7 PM. Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was first performed at Paris’ Théâtre des Champs Elysée on May 29, 1913; the performance began at 8:30 PM. To this über-impressive list of premieres we must now add that of Arnold Schoenberg’s dazzling, controversial, and in all ways extraordinary Pierrot Lunaire, which received it’s premiere 105 years ago today, on Wednesday, October 16, 1912, at Berlin’s Choralion-saal after having received a mind-blowing forty rehearsals! Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) believed himself to be a compositional traditionalist, and in many ways he was. He believed that the role of the composer was to express himself and the role of music was therefore to […]

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Music History Monday: Story Telling

Tomorrow, on January 17, I will release for download the first of what I hope will be many “webcourses”: “Mozart in Vienna” (16 lectures) and “The Music of the Twentieth Century” (18 lectures). With your kind indulgence, I will dedicate the bulk of this post to my philosophy of teaching as encapsulated in two words: “story telling”. It is a teaching philosophy that has been forty years in the making. (My first classroom-teaching gig was at an all-girls private high school in Pottersville, New Jersey called the Purnell School in 1977. I learned more that year – about teaching, about girls/women, and about myself – than in any five-year period before or since. It’s a story I will tell, but not today!) Before moving on, let us – with unfortunate rapidity – put some date sensitive info on the table. On this day in 1728, the Italian opera composer Niccoló Piccinni was born in the southern Italian city of Bari. On this day in 1739, George Frederick Handel’s oratorio “Saul” received its premiere at the Haymarket Theater in ye merrye-olde London. On this day in 1864, the scoundrel Anton Felix Schindler died in Frankfurt am Main. From 1822 to 1825, […]

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Introducing Web Courses from Robert Greenberg!

A gratuitous though heart-felt description of (and plug for) my soon-to-be-released web courses, “Mozart in Vienna” and “The Music of the Twentieth Century”:

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Announcing New Courses!

A drum roll (okay; perhaps just an onion roll): announcing the upcoming releases of my latest Great Courses survey and my first webcast courses, what I will now refer to as “webcourses”. It’s been a year since I announced my intention to begin self-publishing such webcourses; I have now completed writing two of them. The first is “Mozart in Vienna”, a 16-part course that deals with the last 10 years of Mozart’s tragically short life, from 1781 to 1791. Featuring Mozart’s chamber music for strings, the webcourse focuses on Mozart’s day-to-day life and his amazing compositional development during his years as a resident of Vienna. While there is some overlap with the repertoire covered in my The Great Courses/Teaching Company course “The Chamber Music of Mozart” (recorded back in 2004), “Mozart in Vienna” is considerably less technical than the aforementioned Great Courses survey and explores many works I’ve never before examined, including Mozart’s last four string quartets: the so-called “Hoffmeister” Quartet and the three “Prussian” Quartets. The second webcourse is one I’ve wanted to create for many, many years: an 18-part survey entitled “The Music of the Twentieth Century”. The “music” to which the title refers is primarily concert music, […]

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