With an energetic and entertaining delivery (think Mel Brooks), Dr. Greenberg brings us the 300-year-old story of the symphony, from its earliest development, breaking free from its Italian opera overture heritage, to its most modern configurations throughout the world in the 20th century (including American composers Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, and Ernie’s cousin Samuel Barber).
It’s well worth a listen, and covers many of the great symphonies included on Ernie’s essential classical music listening list (see list here). Appropriate for the aspiring composer and the layman alike, its a supermarket display of some of the greatest symphonies ever written. Like Aaron Copland’s book What To Listen For in Music, these lectures will leave you with a clearer understanding of the general structure of the symphony as well as the specific musical forms found within individual movements resulting in a greater appreciation for the music. In addition, “The Symphony” is chock-full of facts and juicy gossip about the lives and personalities of the greatest symphonic composers, bringing to life the story of one of the longest-living genre of instrumental music.
You can find a used (and cheap) copy here.