Music as a Mirror of History

Watch Music as a Mirror of History

  • 2016
  • 1 Season

Uncover the fascinating and surprising connections between famous music and historical events, led by celebrated composer and music historian Professor Robert Greenberg. In Music as a Mirror of History, music lovers and history enthusiasts alike will be enthralled by this exploration of how momentous compositions have responded to-and inspired-pivotal points in the history of the world.

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Crumb: Black Angels (1970)
24. Crumb: Black Angels (1970)
November 1, 2016
Conclude with George Crumb€™s passionate anti-war string quartet. Trace the backdrop of its writing in the political climate and policy decisions that led the U.S. into the quagmire of the Vietnam War. Observe how the attempted U.S. policy of €œcontainment€ unraveled tragically in the face of the implacable will of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong.
G³recki: Symphony No. 3 (1976)
23. G³recki: Symphony No. 3 (1976)
November 1, 2016
Investigate the nearly inconceivable atrocities committed against Poland during World War II by Hitler€™s and Stalin€™s regimes. Learn about Henryk G³recki€™s life in wartime and in the repressive era that followed, and hear the sublimely beautiful €œSymphony of Sorrowful Songs€ that expresses the Polish experience through sung prayers and folk songs about mothers and the loss of their children.
Copland: Symphony No. 3 (1946)
22. Copland: Symphony No. 3 (1946)
November 1, 2016
Trace the Depression-era movement of populism in American art, based in the notion that high art should speak to the broad, general population, and learn how Copland€™s Symphony No. 3 captured the euphoric mood of the country following victories over the Depression, fascism, and Japanese imperialism.
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 (1962)
21. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 (1962)
November 1, 2016
Take the measure of the terrors of the Stalinist regime in Soviet Russia, and uncover how many people, including Dimitri Shostakovich, were forced to lead double lives. Learn about the composition of the Symphony during the post-Stalin €œThaw,€ a less repressive period, and consider the composer€™s use of texts by courageous poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
Berg: Wozzeck (1922)
20. Berg: Wozzeck (1922)
November 1, 2016
In assessing Berg€™s operatic masterwork, investigate the aftermath of World War I in Germany and its imprint on the opera-a psychological climate of rage, disillusion, and alienation in the wake of the war€™s barbarity and hypocrisy. Observe how Berg€™s own wartime experience linked him with the life of Franz Wozzeck, the opera€™s protagonist.
Holst: Ode to Death (1919)
19. Holst: Ode to Death (1919)
November 1, 2016
Gustav Holst€™s luminous Ode to Death responded to the immeasurable suffering of World War I. Learn about the underlying causes of the conflict, and grasp how the horrific human cost of the war reflected a tragic clash between archaism and modernity.
Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel (1907)
18. Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel (1907)
November 1, 2016
This lecture reveals Rimsky-Korsakov€™s classic opera, The Golden Cockerel, as daring political commentary, directly reflecting the events surrounding the first Russian Revolution. Study the opera€™s fairy-tale plot, in parallel with the drama of Russia€™s devastating military encounter with the Japanese in 1905, and anti-Tsarist rebellion within Russia.
Jan¡Äek: Piano Sonata I.X.1905 (1906)
17. Jan¡Äek: Piano Sonata I.X.1905 (1906)
November 1, 2016
The life and music of composer LeoÅ¡ Jan¡Äek were profoundly shaped by the longtime enmity in Czech lands between the Germans and the Czechs. Study the history of German/Czech relations dating from the 17th century, and learn how the events of a political demonstration in 1905 inspired Jan¡Äek€™s Piano Sonata 1, a highly personal expression of wonder, rage, and grief.
Balakirev: Symphony No. 1 (1898)
16. Balakirev: Symphony No. 1 (1898)
November 1, 2016
Delve into the 19th-century movement within Russia to create a distinctively Russian national art. With his Symphony No. 1 as a point of reference, learn how Mily Balakirev personified the quest for an authentic Russian musical aesthetic and see how a group of young composers who gathered around him would change the face of Western concert music.
DvoÅ™¡k: From the New World Symphony (1893)
15. DvoÅ™¡k: From the New World Symphony (1893)
November 1, 2016
The Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893 celebrated the extraordinary industrial and economic rise of the United States in the 19th century. Witness the historic participation of Antonin DvoÅ™¡k and uncover the impact on American music of DvoÅ™¡k€™s residency in the U.S., which produced his symphony entitled From the New World, and pointed toward the creation of a uniquely American musical tradition.
Wagner: The Ring (1876)
14. Wagner: The Ring (1876)
November 1, 2016
Wagner€™s operatic cycle The Ring functions metaphorically as a caustic critique of 19th-century European society. Grasp how the Ring€™s human and godlike characters represent the ills of industrial societies, and how Wagner envisioned a new €œage of man€ which would follow the demise of the European monarchies.
Verdi: Nabucco (1842)
13. Verdi: Nabucco (1842)
November 1, 2016
In the creation of his opera Nabucco, Giuseppe Verdi played a key role in the movement for Italian unification. Study the series of 19th-century rebellions against Austrian rule that culminated in the two Italian wars of independence. Observe how the music and poetry of Nabucco came to be identified with the Italian people€™s quest for nationhood that ultimately led to an independent Italy.
Gottschalk: The Union (1862)
12. Gottschalk: The Union (1862)
November 1, 2016
Louis Moreau Gottschalk was the first truly American composer. Delve into his early life in New Orleans, and see the diverse cultures that shaped his music, encompassing European, Caribbean, Latin American and African influences. Follow his remarkable career as a touring composer-piano virtuoso and witness the events that sparked the creation of his celebrated and patriotic piano piece, The Union.
Brahms: Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25 (1861)
11. Brahms: Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25 (1861)
November 1, 2016
Explore the 19th-century Hungarian nationalist movement, highlighting the revolutionary initiatives of Lajos Kossuth, icon of the 1848 revolt against Austrian domination. Witness how Brahms€™s meeting with the Hungarian refugee and violinist Eduard Rem©nyi ignited the composer€™s longtime love affair with Hungarian gypsy music, epitomized in the electrifying finale to his G Minor Piano Quartet.
Strauss Sr.: Radetzky March (1848)
10. Strauss Sr.: Radetzky March (1848)
November 1, 2016
Uncover the story behind Vienna€™s beloved Radetzky March, which reflects the last glory of the Austrian Empire. As background, track the historical triumphs and tribulations of the Habsburg dynasty, leading to the 1848 rebellion in which the musical Johann Strausses, Senior and Junior, took opposing sides.
Glinka: A Life for the Tsar (1836)
9. Glinka: A Life for the Tsar (1836)
November 1, 2016
Glinka€™s A Life for the Tsar was a landmark in the creation of Russian language opera. Learn about the origins of the opera€™s storyline in Russia€™s €œTime of Troubles,€ an era of discord and invasions, and consider Glinka€™s role in a community dedicated to bringing Russian art and literature to prominence.
Chopin: ‰tude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12 (1831)
8. Chopin: ‰tude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12 (1831)
November 1, 2016
In 1831, a failed political insurrection in Warsaw left a permanent mark on the music and spirit of Fr©d©ric Chopin. Learn about Chopin€™s early life, and delve into the doomed €œNovember Uprising€ of the Poles against their Russian overlords that fueled the writing of his passionate, revolutionary etude for piano.
Berlioz/de L€™Isle: €œLa Marseillaise€ (1830)
7. Berlioz/de L€™Isle: €œLa Marseillaise€ (1830)
November 1, 2016
Watch the evolution of Paris from the 17th century to the 19th and grasp how the city became the spawning ground for the age of European revolutions. Witness the events from the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy following Napoleon€™s downfall to the revolutionary movement of 1830, which inspired Berlioz€™s monumental setting of the marching song that ultimately became the French national anthem.
Beethoven: Wellington€™s Victory (1813)
6. Beethoven: Wellington€™s Victory (1813)
November 1, 2016
Trace Beethoven€™s increasing animosity toward the French, and observe the unfolding debacle of Napoleon€™s Peninsular War against Portugal and Spain. Learn how Beethoven came to compose Wellington€™s Victory, celebrating the British commander€™s triumph over the French at Vitoria, which was both a phenomenal success for Beethoven and a major aberration in his musical output.
Beethoven: The Farewell Sonata (1810)
5. Beethoven: The Farewell Sonata (1810)
November 1, 2016
Learn how Beethoven identified, almost mystically, with the figure of Napoleon. Witness the military clashes after the French Revolution between Napoleon and the Austrian Habsburg empire. Grasp the highly personal meanings in Beethoven€™s Farewell Sonata, which depicts the departure and absence of the composer€™s aristocratic patron in the face of Napoleon€™s 1809 march on Vienna.
Haydn: Mass in the Time of War (1797)
4. Haydn: Mass in the Time of War (1797)
November 1, 2016
See how events that began in revolutionary Paris inspired the expressive content of Haydn€™s Mass in the Time of War. Delve into the dramatic unfolding of the French Revolution, the subsequent rise of Napoleon, and the impending threat his war machine posed to Vienna. Hear the dramatic, martial character of Haydn€™s mass as a triumphant musical exhortation to victory against Napoleon€™s army.
Mozart: The Abduction from the Harem (1782)
3. Mozart: The Abduction from the Harem (1782)
November 1, 2016
Learn how political events in Europe shaped Mozart€™s music and personal circumstances. Investigate the threat posed to Europe by the Ottoman Empire and observe the paradoxical Turkish vogue in European art and fashion. Study the Turkish elements of Mozart€™s opera The Abduction from the Harem, and see how the fallout from Austria€™s war with the Ottomans contributed to Mozart€™s decline and death.
Handel: Water Music (1714)
2. Handel: Water Music (1714)
November 1, 2016
Trace the extraordinary circumstances in which the German prince George Ludwig of Brunswick-L¼neberg became King George I of England. Then discover how music and history intersected in the remarkable career of George Frederick Handel and how it led to the creation of numerous musical masterpieces, including the composer€™s iconic Water Music, written for a state procession in 1717.
Music and History, Madrigals and Maps
1. Music and History, Madrigals and Maps
November 1, 2016
Grasp how Thomas Morley€™s madrigals in praise of Queen Elizabeth I engaged with English national self-perception and myth, and how Leon Jan¡Äek and Fr©d©ric Chopin responded to political events in key works. Take account of how magnified emotions stirred by human conflicts feed artistic creation, and how artists have managed to convert the most terrible of human experiences into transcendent art.

Uncover the fascinating and surprising connections between famous music and historical events, led by celebrated composer and music historian Professor Robert Greenberg. In Music as a Mirror of History, music lovers and history enthusiasts alike will be enthralled by this exploration of how momentous compositions have responded to-and inspired-pivotal points in the history of the world.

Music as a Mirror of History is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on November 1, 2016.

Where to Watch Music as a Mirror of History

Music as a Mirror of History is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Music as a Mirror of History on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon and Hoopla.

  • Premiere Date
    November 1, 2016