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The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

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Alex Ross's sweeping history of twentieth-century classical music, winner of the Guardian First Book Award, is a gripping account of a musical revolution. The landscape of twentieth-century classical music is a wild one: this was a period in which music fragmented into apparently divergent strands, each influenced by its own composers, performers and musical innovations. In this comprehensive tour, Alex Ross, music critic for the 'New Yorker', explores the people and places that shaped musical development: Adams to Zweig, Brahms to Bjork, pre-First World War Vienna to 'Nixon in China'. Above all, this unique portrait of an exceptional era weaves together art, politics and cultural history to show how twentieth-century classical music was both a symptom and a source of immense social change. This edition includes a definitive list of the greatest recordings of twentieth-century music. Hide synopsis

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Reviews of The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

Overall customer rating: 4.667
kathryn w

good reading

by kathryn w on Nov 15, 2013

This is a well written book, unlike a boring college text book. I was suprised that the author took a storyline approach, which made these musical (artists) come to life as real people. Still reading but for all its worth the investment.

pianist
by pianist on Nov 19, 2009

Alex Ross is one of the most intelligent music critics writing today. His critical essays in The New Yorker are "must" reading for professionals as well as music lovers. He has always made a specialty of contemporary music, and is open to the most radical and avant-garde movements. His writing style favors clarity and lucidity, and he conveys the impression that he knows what he's talking about.

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riverrun

A Musical Journey

by riverrun on Sep 15, 2008

Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise contextualizes twentieth century modern classical music historically, and in that way informs the reader about both the music and history. I found the long chapter about Russian composers under Stalin especially informative. In addition Ross shows how the innovations of modern music seeped into the late century's pop music, and indeed how strict categories of classical, pop, folk and world music become increasingly less definable and more permeable. From Strauss to Ligeti, from tonality to atonality, from late Romantic to bebop to minimalism, the author manages to cover a wide swath of the past century's sounds. If I have any reservations, it's that Ross perhaps minimizes or understates the influence of post-bop jazz, particularly of Miles Davis's jazz-rock and John Coltrane's Eastern-influenced improvisations. But that aside, a vastly informative musical journey.

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