Mar 25

The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works, by Robert Greenberg (The Teaching Company Audio) ★★★★

Greeenberg reviews thirty of the greatest pieces in the orchestral repertoire from Bach to Shostakovich. Each piece includes a biographical review of the composer, the nature of the composition, the compositional style, and then what makes it great. It is a whirlwind tour that covers the most relevant pieces. The last lecture on the ones that got away leaves one feeling that probably far more than thirty pieces still could have been included. Greenberg ends with a statement about how we need to support modern composers by listening to their music, noting that the very odd compositional years of the 80’s are long gone, and that composers are again writing quite sensible pieces. Perhaps the best thing Greenberg  could do is to do a series on contemporary classical music, giving us an argument as to why we should listen to modern pieces,  showing us what’s out there, and showing us why those pieces make them worthy of our attention.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Mar 19

Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe, by David Meyer ★★★★

This brief Teaching Company series of 12 lectures takes one on a tour some of the most impressive images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. In this series, David Meyer, one of the managing astronomers for the telescope, provides the scientific insights and explanations as to the significance of the Hubble images. Thus, they are far more than just beautiful photographs. Meyer explains first the politics of the Hubble Telescope, and how one gets a chance as an astronomer to use this telescope. He explains how the Hubble has shown certain things such as the formation of stars, the colliding of galaxies, and even the most distant reaches of the universe. Meyers maintains a teaching level that is not too complicated, such that most could follow what he has to say, and yet maintain ones interest. In conjunction with other astronomy courses, this course serves as a fitting introduction into a small category of astronomy, that of the advances which the Hubble telescope has provided to us.

 

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Jan 05

Oceanography, Teaching Company Course, by Harold Tobin ★★★★

Tobin is a superb teacher, and except for his habit of excessively rolling and waving his hands, has a wonderful skill of conveying his knowledge and interest in oceanography. I appreciated the way he made oceanography quite personal, explaining how he developed an interest in the subject, and how the study of the ocean still drives him. I certainly learned more in this course than in many of the other science courses from the Teaching Company. My major complaint with the course material is the occasional excess preoccupation in some topics that were only peripheral to oceanography. It was not necessary to spend a whole lecture on plate tectonics, or on cosmology, as it didn’t contribute to the understanding of the ocean beyond what a brief mention would have accomplished and referral to other Teaching Company series. I appreciated the lecture on ocean ecology and pollution, but there was excess time spent on global warming and its effect on the ocean in several other lectures. Save for the criticisms, this was a valuable series and spurred increased interest in being more observant at the ocean, and considering our human impact on the sea.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
preload preload preload