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 ...
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.
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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.
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.
Sep 15, 2008
A Musical Journey
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.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-07-23 Ross, the classical music critic for the New Yorker, leads a whirlwind tour from the Viennese premiere of Richard Strauss's Salome in 1906 to minimalist Steve Reich's downtown Manhattan apartment. The wide-ranging historical material is organized in thematic essays grounded in personalities and places, in a disarmingly comprehensive style reminiscent of historian Otto Friedrich. Thus, composers who led dramatic lives-such as Shostakovich's struggles under the Soviet regime-make for gripping reading, but Ross treats each composer with equal gravitas. The real strength of this study, however, lies in his detailed musical analysis, teasing out-in precise but readily accessible language-the notes that link Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story to Arnold Schoenberg's avant-garde compositions or hint at a connection between Sibelius and John Coltrane. Among the many notable passages, a close reading of Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes stands out for its masterful blend of artistic and biographical insight. Readers new to classical music will quickly seek out the recordings Ross recommends, especially the works by less prominent composers, and even avid fans will find themselves hearing familiar favorites with new ears. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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