30 review for The Music of Richard Wagner

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Wagner was a musical genius but a hard man to like, and Greenberg deftly shows how it is possible to love the music and despise the man. He surveys Wagner's life and work in considerable detail, delivering musical highlights and synopses of all of the musical dramas (aka "operas") from the early works that Wagner later disowned to the masterpieces of his mature career. He does not dwell on the less attractive features of Wagner's personality and beliefs, but he does not pass over them either, no Wagner was a musical genius but a hard man to like, and Greenberg deftly shows how it is possible to love the music and despise the man. He surveys Wagner's life and work in considerable detail, delivering musical highlights and synopses of all of the musical dramas (aka "operas") from the early works that Wagner later disowned to the masterpieces of his mature career. He does not dwell on the less attractive features of Wagner's personality and beliefs, but he does not pass over them either, noting that Wagner devoted a great deal of time and effort to his writing, much of which is morally corrupt. His thoroughgoing antisemitism is important to understand as an undercurrent to his work, as repugnant as it is. But somehow the music makes up for this. Greenberg's ebullience is on display as usual, and he reels off silly similes "quicker than a caffeinated squirrel." If this is irreverent, well so be it. Some irreverence may be necessary to temper Wagner's egotism and self-indulgence. Greenberg's courses are for novices who often find classical music difficult to approach, and this course offers a fine path toward appreciating a composer who is especially difficult. I'm not sure how far down that path I will successfully tread, but now I'm a few steps closer thanks to Professor G.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Realistically speaking, I listened to this Great Course multiple times: first, as a general survey. Then, in studious preparation of seeing Wagner's Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was listened in complement to a couple biographies and critical collections, and did not serve as the entirety of my background preparation. Greenberg's levity and irreverence effectively de-fang Wagner's works, making them approachable to the 'mere' mortal. I can see where the lectures may be il Realistically speaking, I listened to this Great Course multiple times: first, as a general survey. Then, in studious preparation of seeing Wagner's Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was listened in complement to a couple biographies and critical collections, and did not serve as the entirety of my background preparation. Greenberg's levity and irreverence effectively de-fang Wagner's works, making them approachable to the 'mere' mortal. I can see where the lectures may be ill suited for some, who believe Wagner should be handled with strict seriousness. I've sought Greenberg's other Great Courses, and find them eminently listen-able, entertaining, and informative.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    A strange listen. As Prof. Greenberg says, to paraphrase correctly, I hope, Wagner's music is great, but Wagner's "virulent anti-Semitism" is intolerable. It's part of music history, but sometimes it's hard to listen to. A strange listen. As Prof. Greenberg says, to paraphrase correctly, I hope, Wagner's music is great, but Wagner's "virulent anti-Semitism" is intolerable. It's part of music history, but sometimes it's hard to listen to.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lenny Husen

    This was a long-haul and Greenberg was annoying bombastic. However, Wagner and his music were both extremely interesting and stimulating and if Greenberg had talked less and played more of the music, this could have been an enjoyable experience. For example, the stories of the Operas are not terribly pleasant ones or logical ones. I did not want to hear the blow-by-blow of the Libretto Poems both read AND translated for me by Greenberg into his vernacular. Also the endless monologues about Wagne This was a long-haul and Greenberg was annoying bombastic. However, Wagner and his music were both extremely interesting and stimulating and if Greenberg had talked less and played more of the music, this could have been an enjoyable experience. For example, the stories of the Operas are not terribly pleasant ones or logical ones. I did not want to hear the blow-by-blow of the Libretto Poems both read AND translated for me by Greenberg into his vernacular. Also the endless monologues about Wagner's anti-semitism detracted. Yes, Wagner had an irrational hatred of Jews and racism is horrible. No educated person can disagree with that statement. I didn't need to hear it expounded for 2 hours during the course. This Course should have been cut down to a trim and meaty 16 lectures rather than a larded 24. It was as though Greenberg pulled a Peter Jackson. POSITIVE STUFF: This course is great to have on hand and listen to before attending any of Wagner's Operas--just the sections on those particular Music Dramas. The music excerpts were well-chosen and beautiful. I have a real appreciation and understanding of the motivation behind the creation of such marvelous masterpieces. I loved finally getting James Herriot's joke about naming his partners in All Creatures Great and Small "Siegfried" and "Tristan." Also, "Brunhilda" is an amazingly strong, wonderful role model for all of us women. Worth learning about. Wagner lived a relatively long, and very colourful, remarkable life and is a Composer worth learning about. The subject is a fascinating one. Really feel I grew from taking the Course on. I highly recommend listening to the first 8 lectures which cover the Biographical information and early works and after that, use one's judgment and listen to just the lectures on Operas one has an interest in. Wagner's music reminded me of the Shawshank Redemption quote, "I don't know what those two ladies were singing about. I would like to think they were singing about some thing so beautiful it can't be expressed in words and makes your heart ache because of it." The words are beside the point.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brett Linsley

    I read this looking for good sources to recommend to people interested in learning about Wagner for the first time. The primary objective of this course is to give an introduction to each of Wagner's operas. It does an excellent job of exploring the major themes of these operas and gives a great sense of the many, sometimes divergent, readings available of these works. I took a college course on Wagner and found this to be a better introduction. My only critique regards Greenberg's reading of Wa I read this looking for good sources to recommend to people interested in learning about Wagner for the first time. The primary objective of this course is to give an introduction to each of Wagner's operas. It does an excellent job of exploring the major themes of these operas and gives a great sense of the many, sometimes divergent, readings available of these works. I took a college course on Wagner and found this to be a better introduction. My only critique regards Greenberg's reading of Wagner's anti-semitism. Any person who wants to learn about Wagner needs to address the uncomfortable question of his vicious anti-semitism and consider its relationship to 20th century history. But this is far from simple as it is not always clear how that anti-semitism seeps into Wagner's works or how it influenced those who came after him. With regard to Das Rheingold and Parsifal, in particular, Greenberg takes for granted that these works are primarily anti-semitic in nature. More-so, he argues for a very blanket form of anti-semitism lacking nuance which does a disservice to those who really want to struggle with this sad and controversial piece of music history. Purely anti-semitic readings are worth exploring and arguing but these are readings hotly contested by many scholars. In the least case, Greenberg might have explored Wagner's belief in "redeeming the Jews," an abhorrant idea to be sure but one that distinguishes his reputation from German anti-semites in the Hitlerian vein. This makes the question of Wagner's anti-semitism even more disturbing in my mind precisely because it feels more innocuous than Hitler's. Still, even Greenberg's one-dimensional readings are delivered in an engaging way that is very informative on that perspective. Highly recommend for first-comers to Wagner with the caveat mentioned.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

    It turns out that I still passionately hate Opera. I really like Greenberg as a lecturer but I just couldn't slog through something that presented Operatic clips in every 30 minute lecture. If you like, or are even indifferent to, Opera I'd suggest giving this a try. It turns out that I still passionately hate Opera. I really like Greenberg as a lecturer but I just couldn't slog through something that presented Operatic clips in every 30 minute lecture. If you like, or are even indifferent to, Opera I'd suggest giving this a try.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tamminh

    Professor Greenberg had such an entertaining way to describe Wagner's musical dramas that I was thoroughly amused while, as with other books by him, being educated effectively. Professor Greenberg had such an entertaining way to describe Wagner's musical dramas that I was thoroughly amused while, as with other books by him, being educated effectively.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I would have liked to hear more analysis of Wagner's music at the expense of detail of the plots of the operas. The shortness of some of the audio clips ruins the cohesiveness. I would have liked to hear more analysis of Wagner's music at the expense of detail of the plots of the operas. The shortness of some of the audio clips ruins the cohesiveness.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sher

    I have listened to every one of Professor Greenberg’s lectures on music—except this one. For so long I just couldn’t bring myself to it. I find Richard Wagner the man to be repugnant and egotistical, and, with a few exceptions, I don’t care for his music. I just didn’t relish the thought of listening for hours and hours to someone telling me how great Wagner was, even if that someone was Robert Greenberg. But curiosity got the best of me, and I finally broke down and listened. What I learned: I I have listened to every one of Professor Greenberg’s lectures on music—except this one. For so long I just couldn’t bring myself to it. I find Richard Wagner the man to be repugnant and egotistical, and, with a few exceptions, I don’t care for his music. I just didn’t relish the thought of listening for hours and hours to someone telling me how great Wagner was, even if that someone was Robert Greenberg. But curiosity got the best of me, and I finally broke down and listened. What I learned: I could probably sit through “Tristan and Isolde” if I had to. There were reasons Wagner was the way he was. Greenberg did not sugarcoat Wagner the man too much. Wagner was very innovative. But then, so was John Cage. Things I did not change my mind about: His ego is beyond belief. By and large, his music doesn’t go anywhere for me. If you want to sing in one of his operas you better have a super powerful voice because the orchestras you have to sing over are gi-normous. That’s why Wagnerian sopranos have the reputation of being, shall we say, rather on the huge side. You could not pay me enough to sit through the “Ring” cycle! He was unapologetically racist. He was not a nice man. I realize one of his great goals was to write “music dramas,” wherein the story just keeps going. And going and going etc. Which means to me two things 1. It is all recitative. There are no great songs in any of Wagner’s music dramas, nothing to look forward to or take away with you. It all just drones on and on and on. Which brings me to 2. If you go see a Wagnerian opera, take your lunch. And your dinner. And some snacks. Because they are very very very long. Did I mention that they are long? Like days long. Oh, there is a #3. All the plots of all of his operas are the same with slight changes. They are autobiographical and the main characters are given problems that can’t be solved. The main characters usually end up dying for unexplained reasons. I think it’s only fair that I make a list of the music by Wagner that I like: Ride of the Valkyries Overture to the Flying Dutchman (sounds a lot like Ride of the Valkyries) The Pilgrims’ Chorus from Tannhäuser Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg. There may be a couple of others, but I can’t think of them. Bottom line. Let’s say on a scale of 1 to 100, 1 being pure puke and 100 being, oh I don’t know, Bach or Beethoven or since we are talking about opera here because THAT IS THE ONLY THING WAGNER EVER WROTE, we’ll include Verdi, before listening to this course, I would have given RW a solid 20. Since listening to it, my opinion of him has shot up to at least a 22. Sorry Wagner fans. I tried. .

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michal Zachar

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Dubeau

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sonja

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul Rowe

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  17. 5 out of 5

    Titas K.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Andro

  19. 4 out of 5

    David Charlton

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  21. 4 out of 5

    Riq Hoelle

  22. 5 out of 5

    Iris Ang

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

  24. 5 out of 5

    George

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ed Bremson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

  27. 4 out of 5

    George

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Duran

    Audible Audiobook

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kaushal

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zach Kostelec

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...