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Great Masters: Haydn-His Life and Music

Explore the unqualified musical success of Franz Joseph Haydn with an esteemed music historian.
Great Masters: Haydn-His Life and Music is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 63.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fascinating Life Story Shared Brilliantly Robert Greenberg infuses his lessons with such enthusiasm that musical geniuses seem to come to life. As with the other courses taught by Greenberg, the end comes with sadness that this course is over. Fortunately, there are still several more classes he teaches which I have not taken yet. I leave feeling not only like Robert is a good friend sharing wonderful stories with humor and pathos, but as if I've gotten to know Joseph Haydn personally and come to also like him very much. I will be signing up for another lecture in the series of great composers, having already completed courses on Mozart and Brahms which I found equally captivating. His course on History and Music is a tour de force featuring several conductors that I also recommend and serves as a good introduction from which to select these more in depth character studies. While many Wondrium/Great Courses professors deliver fantastic courses, few can hold my attention and make me as happy to be learning as Professor Greenberg. Take this class along with other classes, and like me you will find you look forward to when it comes up in whatever type of rotation you may use.
Date published: 2021-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Extremely Engaging 'Haydn's marriage sank like a submarine with screen doors.' Edifying, entertaining and thoroughly wonderful!
Date published: 2020-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating ! This series brings Haydn, the human being, to life. The lecturer describes not only the events in Haydn's life, but his internal world and motivations.
Date published: 2020-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The "Inventor" of the Symphony and String Quartet You may point out that sinfoniae and string quartets existed before Haydn. And you'd be right, sort of. Mostly. But there is no question that Haydn perfected both and defined the structure we recognize today. Robert Greenberg, a delightful and talented professor, is the perfect choice to tell us about this delightful and talented composer. Though Haydn's reputation is overshadowed in the popular mind by Mozart and Beethoven -- both of whom he mentored -- Greenberg makes clear that he was every bit the genius his students were. This is a short course - only eight lectures. Yet Greenberg does an excellent job of packing them tightly with biography and musicology. Don't expect entire concerts: As with all the Great Masters courses, there's barely enough time to present a coherent picture of the man, his times, and his contributions to the art. You can and should explore Haydn's music on your own. But Greenberg arms you with everything you need to fully appreciate it when you do. The picture that emerges is of a genuinely admirable man. Mozart may be the man to share dinner and a joke with; Beethoven might be the performer you want a front seat for; Bach might be the brain you most want to pick, not to mention the steady, reliable family man you want for your daughter. But the Haydn that Greenberg brings to life is a truly admirable man, the sort who commands respect not just for his genius, but also for the sheer power of his character: A demanding but fair boss who looked out for his people; a loyal and reliable employee; a warm and trustworthy friend; an unpretentious celebrity in his own lifetime; an incredibly prodigious and confident master of his art despite a miserable marriage to a sharp-tongued woman who treated him as worthless. I purchased this course while I was living in Vienna, so I was able to visit Haydn's home as well as the Esterhazy estates that are now in Hungary and Austria. But even if that's a bonus you don't have, you'll enjoy this course. Get it.
Date published: 2020-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully informative; humor! Great music! I'm still listening to this and think it is just superb. Robert G. is a terrific teacher with a foot in the classical world, and another foot in the very contemporary world. His enthusiasm for his subject and for music is A+++. The musical excerpts are well chosen, and well explained. It is extremely entertaining and I will probably listen to it more than once!
Date published: 2020-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from HAYDN-His Life and Music Like all Professor Greenberg's Courses, it is both educational and entertaining.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hayden, Go Seek! Greenberg does it again with a great course of Hayden. My only complaint, as always, is that the series isn't 3 times as long. MORE!
Date published: 2020-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lively and informative Greenberg is always an entertaining lecturer who delivers quality information and perspective on his subject
Date published: 2020-03-15
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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.


Robert Greenberg
Robert Greenberg

For thousands of years cultures have celebrated themselves through their music. Let us always be willing and able to join that celebration by listening as carefully as we can to what, through music, we have to say to one another.


San Francisco Performances

Dr. Robert Greenberg is Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Greenberg holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has seen his compositions-which include more than 45 works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles-performed all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands.

He has served on the faculties of the University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Hayward; and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has lectured for some of the most prestigious musical and arts organizations in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Van Cliburn Foundation, and the Chicago Symphony. For The Great Courses, he has recorded more than 500 lectures on a range of composers and classical music genres.

Professor Greenberg is a Steinway Artist. His many other honors include three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition Prizes and a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress. He has been profiled in various major publications, including The Wall Street Journal; Inc. magazine; and the London Times.

You can find more music content from Robert Greenberg on Patreon:

By This Professor

The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works
Music as a Mirror of History
Great Music of the 20th Century
Symphonies of Beethoven
The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition
Introduction and Early Life

01: Introduction and Early Life

Haydn's name is synonymous with the Classical style. No other single composer did as much to create and standardize the Classical symphony and quartet. This lecture describes his early years at school and as a choirboy at St. Stephen's Cathedral school in Vienna. In 1749, when his voice broke, he was expelled from St. Stephen's to begin a new life in Vienna at the age of 17....

49 min
The Lean Years and the Pre-Classical Style

02: The Lean Years and the Pre-Classical Style

Haydn eked out a living for years before his compositional career took off. He absorbed the musical traditions of his day: the high Baroque, and the new rococo music of the Enlightenment. This lecture discusses influences on Haydn: the Mannheim orchestra, Italian composer Sammartini as well as Viennese composers Reutter, Monn, and Wagenseil. In 1761, he got the opportunity of his life when he was ...

45 min
Haydn's Marriage and Esterhaza

03: Haydn's Marriage and Esterhaza

Musically, Haydn's development was an unqualified success but marriage to Maria Anna Keller was not. Prince Paul Anton and his successor, Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, were genuine music lovers. Haydn became the court music director with his own orchestra to conduct and write music for. Haydn was "forced to become original."...

45 min
Esterhaza Continued

04: Esterhaza Continued

Life at Prince Nicholas's court at Esterhaza was exactly what Haydn wanted: predictable and calm. Ideas of the new Sturm und Drang cultural movement imbued his music with a greater emotional range. Haydn became famous and wealthy, and he developed a close friendship with Mozart. His music became the template by which we measure the Classical style, perfectly balancing head and h...

45 min
The Classical String Quartet and the Classical Symphony

05: The Classical String Quartet and the Classical Symphony

Haydn's string quartets and symphonies are models of the Classical style. He forged the notion of the string quartet as four individuals who collaborate to create a whole that is greater than its parts. As the years passed at Esterhaza, Haydn's fame grew throughout Europe and England. When Prince Nicholas Esterhazy died in 1790, he accepted the invitation of an English impresario to ...

46 min

06: London

Haydn went to London at the invitation of Johann Peter Salomon, a violinist and impresario. The symphonies Haydn wrote for his London audiences are among his finest. He returned to Vienna in 1792, but his reception there was mild. Moreover, he had lost his great friend Mozart and was soon to lose his old friend Marianne von Genzinger. It could not have been a worse time when the young Ludwig van B...

43 min
Beethoven, London Again, and Breakthrough

07: Beethoven, London Again, and Breakthrough

Beethoven's composition lessons with Haydn were disastrous. Beethoven was discourteous and even duplicitous toward Haydn, although he would later forgive the young and rebellious Beethoven. At his second visit to London in 1794, he was as enthusiastically received as the first time. His 12 London Symphonies, written during both visits, are the crowning achievements of his symphonic output. After h...

45 min
The Creation, The Seasons, and the End

08: The Creation, The Seasons, and the End

As he grew old, Haydn's health began to fail, but he still kept a strict daily routine. He lived in the Viennese suburbs, continuing to receive a steady stream of medals, awards, and honors. He wrote The Seasons, his last major work, which was another extraordinary success. In March 1808, a performance of The Creation was given to a distinguished audience in honor of Haydn's 76th birthday; he died...

47 min