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Great Masters: Mahler—His Life and Music


architecture in Vienna, decorative

Author: Robert Greenberg –

Publisher: The Great Courses –

Genre: Musicology –

Overall rating: 5/5 –

Writing: 5/5 –

Duration: 6:04h (short but relatively long) –

Narrator: Robert Greenberg-

Narrator/performance: 5/5 –

Impressions: n/a –

Performance errors: n/a (lectures) –

Complexity/reading level: 4/5 –

Audience: General


Having heard from many people that lectures are supposed be great fun, I had this suspicion that I had bad luck with them and just missed the good ones. This must be reason I do not enjoy them, I thought. And I was right. A good lecture can be even better than a serene, structured written content covering a specific topic.

These musicology lectures are performed by Robert Greenberg and are a kind of his specialty, although he is also a composer and a pianist. It is hard to put into words how much energy, dedication and sheer joy of sharing knowledge is packed into these short episodes. They are imaginative, funny, brilliantly supported by audio exhibits. Professor Greenberg probably has many goals in mind while delivering his speeches and I would be surprised if he did not reach all of them among a larger audience. The level of preparation and planning appears to be superb – though we never know what really happens behind the scenes.

I was refreshed by how old-fashioned the lectures were. There are no social media or marketing tricks detectable, just the attractive, passionate academic content, without the heavy terminology. These lectures will bring you closer to the subject – in this example, Gustav Mahler – without burdening you with tools or phrases you might never need. They are mature, trying to understand all aspects of life of the depicted composer from a perspective of much time that passed and many experiences we as humans share. This product is intelligent, independent, a lesson in free speech at its best. Listening to it made me happy.

Great Masters: Mahler—His Life and Music audiobook cover

A perfect cover for academic material. Minimalist, clearly depicting its content, promising structure and neutrality.

Cover Photo by Dmitrii Eliuseev on Unsplash