Ratings : 11320

Review : 646


Published : Oct. 16, 2007

By : Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Language : eng

Paperback : 640 Pages

Published : Oct. 16, 2007

By : Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Language : eng

Paperback : 640 Pages

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

11320 Ratings - 646 Review

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalism has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward.

The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. The narrative goes 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. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.



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ABOUT Alex Ross

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Alex Ross has been the music critic of The New Yorker since 1996. From 1992 to 1996 he wrote for the New York Times. His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, was published in 2007 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and became a national bestseller. It won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Guardian First Book Award, and the Royal Philharmonic Society Creative Communication Award; appeared on the New York Times's list of the ten best books of year; and was a finalist for the Pulitzer and the Samuel Johnson prizes. Ross has received a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center, fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the Banff Centre, three ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards, and an honorary doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music. He has also served as a McGraw Professor in Writing at Princeton University. In 2008 he was named a MacArthur Fellow. His next book, an essay collection titled Listen to This, will appear in fall 2010. A native of Washington, DC, Ross now lives in Manhattan. In 2005 he married the actor and filmmaker Jonathan Lisecki.