The Great Courses

Founded in 1990 as “The Teaching Company”, The Great Courses is an intellectualy engaging series of video and audio courses led by the world’s best professors and experts in diverse fields such as philosophy, history, literature, science, and music. The Great Courses currently maintains a catalog of more than 350 courses designed to meet the powerful demand for lifelong learning.

Dr. Robert Greenberg has been recording courses for The Great Courses since 1993. Based on his length of tenure and the number of courses he has recorded and sold, Greenberg is The Great Course’s most popular professor.

Robert Greenberg — The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works | The Great CoursesThe 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works

As a solo concert instrument, the piano enjoys an unrivaled popularity in Western music. Capable of a vast sonic range, from ethereal softness to thundering grandeur, its appeal is global and seemingly eternal. For nearly 200 years, audiences have packed concert halls and opera houses to hear performers play this single, phenomenal instrument.


HT-Listen-Understand-Great-Music-3eHow to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition

This course can permanently enrich your life. With Professor Robert Greenberg as your teacher, you will hear and understand an entire language of unmatched beauty, genius, and power. Using digitally recorded passages to illustrate his points, Professor Greenberg takes you inside magnificent compositions by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and more. After this course, you will never listen to music the same way again.

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music

Professor Robert Greenberg offers a spirited introduction to the mysterious realm of music theory—the complex syntax of structural and instrumental resources that composers draw on. Sidestepping the necessity to read music, these lectures represent a rare opportunity for learning music theory—for understanding the processes of composition. The course will reward you many times over as you find yourself enjoying much deeper connections with the language of music.

The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works

In The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works, join Great Courses favorite Professor Robert Greenberg as he guides you through 30 works that, in his expert opinion, can be considered among the greatest orchestral works in the history of Western concert music. Rich with detailed musical excerpts, these 32 lectures will open your ears to the profound joy and meaning of landmark creations by Haydn, Beethoven, Stravinsky, and many others.

HT-Listen-Understand-Opera-v1How to Listen to and Understand Opera

For more than 400 years, opera has been one of the most popular performing arts. Professor Robert Greenberg can show you how you can learn to understand, appreciate—even to love—opera in just 32 lectures. With the knowledge of opera from this course, you will understand how opera is a unique marriage of words and music in which the whole is far greater than its parts. You will learn the reasons for opera’s enduring popularity. And you will be able to explore in great depth the extraordinary and compelling world of opera.

Music of Richard Wagner

Join composer and award-winning Professor Robert Greenberg for The Music of Richard Wagner, a highly incisive and in-depth investigation of the life and art of one of the greatest—and most controversial—characters in the pantheon of Western music. These 24 musically rich lectures are an accessible introduction to Wagner’s celebrated works, from The Flying Dutchman to Tristan and Isolde to The Ring of the Nibelung. Filled with insights about the man, his music, and his legacy, this course is an extraordinary encounter with art, history, and the dimensions of the human spirit.

The Symphony

This course brings longtime Teaching Company favorite Professor Robert Greenberg to a 300-year survey of the symphony with the enthusiasm, energy, and breadth of knowledge that are his trademarks. As you explore the evolution and development of this remarkable musical genre, you enjoy musical excerpts from well- known compositions in addition to some that may be new to you, along with enlightening musical and biographical analysis.

Great Masters: Beethoven—His Life and Music

Place the life of Ludwig van Beethoven in a stronger social, political, and cultural framework with Great Masters: Beethoven—His Life and Music. Award-winning composer and Professor Robert Greenberg makes the case that Beethoven was one of the most prolific and inspiring forces in the history of music, after whom nothing would ever be the same again. You’ll learn about Beethoven’s dysfunctional family life, musical training, celebrity in music-crazed Vienna, compositional successes, and the core features of some of his greatest works. Featuring excerpts from more than a dozen of Beethoven’s Classical masterpieces, this course is an unparalleled look at the story of a great musical master.

Symphonies of Beethoven

Almost since their creation, Ludwig van Beethoven’s nine symphonies—each one pathbreaking and stunning—have formed the cornerstone of orchestral literature. Viewed from the unique vantage point that Professor Robert Greenberg offers, “The Nine” bear witness to Beethoven’s artistic brilliance as well as the profound and continuing influence of his achievements.

String Quartets of Beethoven

In The String Quartets of Beethoven, award-winning composer and celebrated Great Courses Professor Robert Greenberg guides you through the power and beauty of the maestro’s 16 quartets for two violins, viola, and cello. This captivating new course is a rare opportunity for you to grasp the musical riches and spiritual greatness of the quartets in a clear and accessible way. In twenty-four 45-minute lectures, Professor Greenberg reveals the secrets of these multifaceted works, aided at every turn by the masterful interpretations of the Alexander String Quartet.

Great Masters: Mozart—His Life and Music

Great Masters: Mozart—His Life and Music is a biographical and musical study of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who composed more than 600 works of beauty and brilliance in just over 20 years. You’ll learn about Mozart’s journey from youthful prodigy to posthumous deification, his struggles for a successful career, his relationships with family, friends, and fellow composers, his musical triumphs and disasters, and more. Featuring a wide and rich selection of musical excerpts, Professor Robert Greenberg’s lectures are an unforgettable way to explore the life, works, and legacy of one of Western civilization’s greatest composers.

Bach and the High Baroque

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach fuses emotional power, religious devotion, technical virtuosity, diverse national styles, and sheer genius in ways that are unforgettable, delightful, and moving. Professor Robert Greenberg explains all this and more with compelling insight, deep human sympathy, and puckish wit. Join him, and learn to hear Bach with more pleasure and understanding than ever before.

Chamber Music of Mozart

Professor Robert Greenberg of San Francisco Performances presents an outstanding opportunity to study and enjoy a variety of chamber works drawn primarily from Mozart’s golden years in Vienna, 1781–1791. The centerpiece of this 16-lecture course is the set of six Haydn string quartets that Mozart dedicated to his friend, the great Joseph Haydn.

The Concerto

A concerto is exciting in ways that no other instrumental music can match. Where a symphony enthralls us with themes that are contrasted, varied, transformed, and developed, a concerto adds the extra dimension of human drama—the exhilaration of a soloist or group of soloists ringing forth against the mass of the orchestra. In this course, Professor Robert Greenberg gives you a guided tour of the concerto from its conception through its radical transformation in the 20th century, including 100 musical samples by more than 60 composers.

Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas

Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas provide a window into his personal musical development and highlight the piano as an evolving instrument. Professor Robert Greenberg combines analysis of extensive musical excerpts with historical anecdotes, metaphors, and humor to show what goes on inside a musical composition and how Beethoven often broke all former rules to achieve a new, powerful effect.

Great Masters: Tchaikovsky—His Life and Music

Discover why Peter Illych Tchaikovsky exhibits as close a link as you will find anywhere between an artist’s inner world and the outward products of his creative activity with Great Masters: Tchaikovsky—His Life and Music. Award-winning Professor Robert Greenberg reveals how, as a man, Tchaikovsky was defined by his music, which became an outlet for all the shifting moods of his turbulent soul. Tchaikovsky walked a fine line between his Romantic penchant for expression and the demands of Classical structure; understanding this delicate balancing act, you learn, serves as the key to understanding his musical masterpieces.

Great Masters: Mahler—His Life and Music

More than many other composers, Gustav Mahler’s works are highly personal expressions of his inner world—one characterized by an overwhelming sense of alienation and loneliness. Great Masters: Mahler—His Life and Music is a biographical and musical study of Mahler, who, along with being a composer, was the greatest opera conductor of his time. Professor Robert Greenberg’s lectures bring to life this complex, anxiety-bound visionary, whose continual search for perfection and the answers to life’s mysteries is profoundly reflected in his symphonies and songs. These lectures also include more than a dozen excerpts from Mahler’s symphonies and other works.

Great Masters: Haydn—His Life and Music

Experience the musical riches of Franz Joseph Haydn, an artist so technically superb that he has come to exemplify the Classical style. In Great Masters: Haydn—His Life and Music, explore the life, works, and legacy of one of the most original and influential composers of all time. Taught by award-winning Professor Robert Greenberg, this course will reveal Haydn’s extraordinary achievements not merely as technical feats or displays of pure talent—but as the work of a whole person, a triumph of generosity and the human spirit.

Great Masters: Shostakovich—His Life and Music

Discover the extraordinary life, times, and music of Dmitri Shostakovich, the great composer who proved to be a faithful witness to the survival of the human spirit under totalitarianism. In Great Masters: Shostakovich—His Life and Music, award-winning composer and Professor Robert Greenberg reveals why Shostakovich is, without a doubt, one of the most central composers of the 20th century. In addition to exploring the intriguing facets of his symphonies and string quartets, you also examine how this composer’s life raises challenging and exciting issues that transcend music and touch on questions of the moral role of the artist.

Great Masters: Brahms—His Life and Music

Great Masters: Brahms—His Life and Music is a course that links the complexities of this enduring Western composer with his electrifying works through biographical information and musical commentary. Join award-winning composer and Professor Robert Greenberg on an examination of how Brahms found unique ways of combining the formal complexity of older Classical genres with the melodic inventiveness, harmonic sophistication, and expressive richness of the Romantic Age. Among the many aspects of Brahms’s life and career you explore are why he took 21 years to complete his first symphony; how he single-handedly started a second “golden symphonic age” in music; and how he breathed new life into chamber music at the age of 40.

Great Masters: Stravinsky—His Life and Music

Award-winning Professor Robert Greenberg’s Great Masters: Stravinsky—His Life and Music depicts the career of Igor Stravinsky as a dizzying, enthralling progression that creates a virtual artistic history of the West from the 1890s to the late 1960s. Discover this master of musical creativity to be a one-man compendium of people, places, compositional styles, and techniques. Among other things, these lectures on Stravinsky will give you a sense of the kaleidoscopic changes in musical expression that took place during much of the 20th century.

Great Masters: Robert and Clara Schumann—Their Lives and Music

Meet Robert and Clara Wieck Schumann, the most brilliant, gifted, troubled, and unique couple in the history of concert music. In Great Masters: Robert and Clara Schumann—Their Lives and Music, taught by popular Teaching Company Professor Robert Greenberg, learn why this critic and composer and his pianist wife have earned a distinct place in the annals of Western music. These fascinating lectures take you through not only the Schumanns’ unique relationship, but their respectively powerful impact on the course of 19th-century Romantic music.

Great Masters: Liszt—His Life and Music

Musically, Franz Liszt is one of the most written about but least understood composers of the 19th century. Join award-winning Professor Robert Greenberg on a fascinating journey to learn the truth about this enduring composer in Great Masters: Liszt—His Life and Music. More than anyone before him, it was Liszt who created one of the most enduring archetypes of the Romantic era: the artist “who walks with God and brings down fire from heaven in order to kindle the hearts of humankind.” After experiencing Professor Greenberg’s lectures, you’ll have developed a thorough understanding of the life and legacy of this masterful composer.

Concert Masterworks

This course examines eight great concert masterworks by Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorák, Strauss, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Liszt. You explore the life, times, personality, and stylistic assumptions of the composers and analyze each composition’s form, themes, thematic relationships, and expressive content. You will also discuss the impact on musical development of the Enlightenment aesthetic ideal, nationalism, Beethoven’s heroic style, the Romantic Era, and more. Many musical excerpts are included.

Life and Operas of Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi is still the most popular composer in the 400-year history of opera. What were the sources of his unbridled creativity? And why have his operas left such a lasting impression on the history of classical music? Discover the answers in The Life and Operas of Verdi, a fascinating 36-lecture course taught by award-winning composer and Professor Robert Greenberg. Tour Verdi’s life and music, and trace his artistic development from a more conventional composer to a master of dramatic innovation. As you explore Verdi’s most cherished operas—including Rigoletto, Macbeth, Aida, and Falstaff—you’ll quickly realize just how adept this great composer was at using opera to intensify and explore the range of human emotion. And each lecture features captivating musical excerpts that illustrate in vivid detail Verdi’s artistry.

Operas of Mozart

Mozart pushed the genre of opera to the point of comprehensive reinvention in his brief life, continually excelling in its composition and continually delighting audiences. Perhaps no composer has ever loved opera with more passion. Teaching Company favorite Professor Robert Greenberg examines Mozart’s life, influences, and major operas. The scandalous Cosi fan tutte, crystalline Magic Flute, majestic Don Giovanni and glowing Marriage of Figaro are among the works examined at length.