The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century


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In this sweeping and dramatic narrative, Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, weaves together the histories of the twentieth century and its music, from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties; from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies up to the present. Taking readers into the labyrinth of modern style, Ross draws revelatory connections between the century's most influential composers and the wider culture. The Rest is Noise is an astonishing ...

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kathryn w

Nov 15, 2013

good reading

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.

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