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The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

by

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century Cover

ISBN13: 9780312427719
ISBN10: 0312427719
Condition: Standard
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Only 3 left in stock at $13.95!

 

Awards

Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism
A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book of the Year
Time magazine Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2007
Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2007

Staff Pick

Among its many other innovations, the 20th century was the first to truly have its own soundtrack. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross is nothing if not ambitious, and, as he tracks the history of 20th-century music (and the music of 20th-century history) in The Rest Is Noise, his talent more than lives up to his lofty ambitions. One caveat: you may want to put together your own CD soundtrack to play as you read!
Recommended by Rico, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"The problems with this history begin with the title page — with the self-assured title itself, which seems more promotional than informative, and with the subtitle Listening to the Twentieth Century, which grows more shifty the more you think about it. It might mean listening to the characteristic sounds of the twentieth century — the roar of the jet, the song of the cell phone, the ear- and brain-splitting din of carpet bombing — rather than listening to music. Twentieth century music, as Ross has stressed with much vigor, even spleen, is mostly popular, and increasingly international. But a writer whose ambition was 'to talk about classical music as if it were popular music and popular music as if it were classical' talks mostly about Western classical music as if it were classical." Joseph Kerman, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this sweeping and dramatic narrative, Alex Ross 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. The Rest Is Noise is an astonishing history of the twentieth century as told through its music.

Review:

"'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.' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"

Review:

"[A] long and thrilling ride....Alex Ross writes about music in vivid language humming with intelligence." Salon.com

Review:

"A must-read for those who have struggled with understanding modern music and a benchmark book that should eventually become a classic history of the 20th century." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Ross is a surpremely gifted writer who brings together the political and technological richness of the world inside the magic circle of the concert hall, so that each illuminates the other." Lev Grossman, Time

Review:

"[A] great achievement. Rilke once wrote of how he learned to stand 'more seeingly' in front of certain paintings. Ross enables us to listen more hearingly." Geoff Dyer, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"The best book on what music is about — really about — that you or I will ever own." LA Weekly

Review:

"With every page you turn, the story departs further from the old fairy tale of giants bestriding the earth and looks more like the twentieth century we remember, with fallible human beings reacting to, reflecting, and affecting with symbolic sounds a flux of conditions and events created by other fallible human beings. And turn the pages you do. A remarkable achievement." Richard Taruskin, author of the Oxford History of Western Music

Review:

"A rare and successful weaving together of musical and cultural history, at once sweeping and accessible, written felicitously by a seasoned music critic at home in the history of the last century. An enticing and bold invitation to learn something of the great themes of the past century." Fritz Stern, author of Five Germanys I Have Known

Review:

"There seems always to have been a 'crisis of modern music,' but by some insane miracle one person finds the way out. The impossibility of it gives me hope. Fast-forwarding through so many music-makers' creative highs and lows in the company of Alex Ross's incredibly nourishing book will rekindle anyone's fire for music." Bjork

Synopsis:

Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, journeys from Vienna before the First World War to New York in the 1970s and 80s. The result is not so much a history of 20th century music as it is a history of the 20th century through its music.

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book of the Year

Time magazine Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2007

Newsweek Favorite Books of 2007

A Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2007

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 history of the twentieth century as told through its music.

Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for music criticism, a Holtzbrinck Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre, and a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for significant contributions to the field of contemporary music. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle AwardA Pulitzer Prize FinalistOne of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the YearA Washington Post Best Book of the YearA Time Magazine Best Book of the YearAn Economist Book of the Year

A Fortune Magazine Top Book of the YearA Newsweek Favorite Book of the YearA New York Magazine Top 10 Book of the YearA Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year

A Slate Best Book of the Year

A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction

Winner of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Deems Taylor Award

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Winner of The Guardian First Book Prize The Rest Is Noise shows the origin and enduring influence of modern sound on twentieth century life. It tells of maverick personalities who have 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 the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. Ross takes us 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. He follows 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. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is a history of the twentieth century through its music. The Rest Is Noise is a work of immense scope and ambition. The idea is not simply to conduct a survey of 20th-century classical composition but to come up with a history of that century as refracted through its music . . . With its key figures reappearing like motifs in a symphony, The Rest Is Noise is a considerable feat of orchestration and arrangement . . . a great achievement. Rilke once wrote of how he learned to stand 'more seeingly' in front of certain paintings. Ross enables us to listen more hearingly.--Geoff Dyer, The New York Times The Rest Is Noise is a work of immense scope and ambition. The idea is not simply to conduct a survey of 20th-century classical composition but to come up with a history of that century as refracted through its music . . . With its key figures reappearing like motifs in a symphony, The Rest Is Noise is a considerable feat of orchestration and arrangement . . . a great achievement. Rilke once wrote of how he learned to stand 'more seeingly' in front of certain paintings. Ross enables us to listen more hearingly.--Geoff Dyer, The New York Times

In Ross's book, by far the liveliest and smartest popular introduction yet written to a century of diverse music, history winds through the pages like those highway signs and mountains. We linger over some; others whiz by. For a dozen years or so Ross has been the catholic-minded critic for The New Yorker, writing about new music without a chip on his shoulder or a tone of condescension and not as a defensive apologist for a supposedly embattled culture--but instead fluently, as if taking for granted that new music were on its own terms every bit as relevant and vital as contemporary art or literature. His prose is notable in a discipline that frets too much about its obsolescence . . . When he writes his way, Ross leads you to imagine you really are, to borrow his subtitle, listening to the twentieth century.--Michael Kimmelman, The New York Review of Books

What powers this amazingly ambitious book and endows it with authority are the author's expansive curiosity and refined openness of mind.--Jamie James, Los Angeles Times

An impressive, invigorating achievement . . . This is the best general study of a complex history too often claimed by academic specialists on the one hand and candid populists on the other. Ross plows his own broad furrow, beholden to neither side, drawing on both.--Stephen Walsh, The Washington Post

Readers love The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by New Yorker critic Alex Ross. It was that most rare literary beast--both a lively read and an authoritative overview of a complex topic. In its sweep Ross' book offered a bird's-eye view of a massive arc of time and space that ranged from Imperial Vienna and Mahler's monumental symphonies to Silicon Valley and John Adams' 'Nixon in China.'--Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times

It would be hard to imagine a

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book of the Year

Time magazine Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2007

Newsweek Favorite Books of 2007

A Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2007

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 history of the twentieth century as told through its music.

 

About the Author

Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for music criticism, a Holtzbrinck Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre, and a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for significant contributions to the field of contemporary music. This is his first book.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Mark Scheunemann, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by Mark Scheunemann)
An excellent book but a background in music will enhance the reader's understanding. The author uses technical music terms and at times includes written music notes; if you know the terms and can read music you may better appreciate the points made than the reader without this background, but the book is not inundated with these terms and notes. Though slightly frustrating to me the use of music terms and notes had only a minor negative effect on my enjoyment of the book which is otherwise nicely comprehensive and a pleasant overview of the twentieth century in music. The book is well researched and has plenty of references for additional reading and exploration if a particular subject strikes your fancy. The author knows his subject and places the composers and musicians in historical context. I enjoyed the book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Susan Harris, November 4, 2008 (view all comments by Susan Harris)
When investigating a book, I am hopeful that I will encounter something that will appeal to my heart and my mind. "The Rest is Noise:Listening to the Twentieth Century" did not have that effect on me.
I was feeling deflated and anxious at the long run on paragraphs with little content.
The page I read felt bloated and disappointing.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(10 of 27 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312427719
Author:
Ross, Alex
Publisher:
Picador USA
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Subject:
History & Criticism *
Subject:
History & Criticism - General
Subject:
Music -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
Subject:
Music -- History and criticism.
Subject:
Genres & Styles - Classical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20081031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Plus one 8-page bandw photo insert
Pages:
720
Dimensions:
8.26 x 5.5 x 1.22 in

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Related Subjects

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Featured Titles » Staff Picks

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.95 In Stock
Product details 720 pages Picador - English 9780312427719 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Among its many other innovations, the 20th century was the first to truly have its own soundtrack. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross is nothing if not ambitious, and, as he tracks the history of 20th-century music (and the music of 20th-century history) in The Rest Is Noise, his talent more than lives up to his lofty ambitions. One caveat: you may want to put together your own CD soundtrack to play as you read!

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'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.' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"
"Review A Day" by , "The problems with this history begin with the title page — with the self-assured title itself, which seems more promotional than informative, and with the subtitle Listening to the Twentieth Century, which grows more shifty the more you think about it. It might mean listening to the characteristic sounds of the twentieth century — the roar of the jet, the song of the cell phone, the ear- and brain-splitting din of carpet bombing — rather than listening to music. Twentieth century music, as Ross has stressed with much vigor, even spleen, is mostly popular, and increasingly international. But a writer whose ambition was 'to talk about classical music as if it were popular music and popular music as if it were classical' talks mostly about Western classical music as if it were classical." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "[A] long and thrilling ride....Alex Ross writes about music in vivid language humming with intelligence."
"Review" by , "A must-read for those who have struggled with understanding modern music and a benchmark book that should eventually become a classic history of the 20th century."
"Review" by , "Ross is a surpremely gifted writer who brings together the political and technological richness of the world inside the magic circle of the concert hall, so that each illuminates the other."
"Review" by , "[A] great achievement. Rilke once wrote of how he learned to stand 'more seeingly' in front of certain paintings. Ross enables us to listen more hearingly."
"Review" by , "The best book on what music is about — really about — that you or I will ever own."
"Review" by , "With every page you turn, the story departs further from the old fairy tale of giants bestriding the earth and looks more like the twentieth century we remember, with fallible human beings reacting to, reflecting, and affecting with symbolic sounds a flux of conditions and events created by other fallible human beings. And turn the pages you do. A remarkable achievement."
"Review" by , "A rare and successful weaving together of musical and cultural history, at once sweeping and accessible, written felicitously by a seasoned music critic at home in the history of the last century. An enticing and bold invitation to learn something of the great themes of the past century."
"Review" by , "There seems always to have been a 'crisis of modern music,' but by some insane miracle one person finds the way out. The impossibility of it gives me hope. Fast-forwarding through so many music-makers' creative highs and lows in the company of Alex Ross's incredibly nourishing book will rekindle anyone's fire for music."
"Synopsis" by , Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, journeys from Vienna before the First World War to New York in the 1970s and 80s. The result is not so much a history of 20th century music as it is a history of the 20th century through its music.
"Synopsis" by , Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book of the Year

Time magazine Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2007

Newsweek Favorite Books of 2007

A Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2007

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 history of the twentieth century as told through its music.

Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for music criticism, a Holtzbrinck Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre, and a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for significant contributions to the field of contemporary music. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle AwardA Pulitzer Prize FinalistOne of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the YearA Washington Post Best Book of the YearA Time Magazine Best Book of the YearAn Economist Book of the Year

A Fortune Magazine Top Book of the YearA Newsweek Favorite Book of the YearA New York Magazine Top 10 Book of the YearA Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year

A Slate Best Book of the Year

A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction

Winner of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Deems Taylor Award

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Winner of The Guardian First Book Prize The Rest Is Noise shows the origin and enduring influence of modern sound on twentieth century life. It tells of maverick personalities who have 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 the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. Ross takes us 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. He follows 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. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is a history of the twentieth century through its music. The Rest Is Noise is a work of immense scope and ambition. The idea is not simply to conduct a survey of 20th-century classical composition but to come up with a history of that century as refracted through its music . . . With its key figures reappearing like motifs in a symphony, The Rest Is Noise is a considerable feat of orchestration and arrangement . . . a great achievement. Rilke once wrote of how he learned to stand 'more seeingly' in front of certain paintings. Ross enables us to listen more hearingly.--Geoff Dyer, The New York Times The Rest Is Noise is a work of immense scope and ambition. The idea is not simply to conduct a survey of 20th-century classical composition but to come up with a history of that century as refracted through its music . . . With its key figures reappearing like motifs in a symphony, The Rest Is Noise is a considerable feat of orchestration and arrangement . . . a great achievement. Rilke once wrote of how he learned to stand 'more seeingly' in front of certain paintings. Ross enables us to listen more hearingly.--Geoff Dyer, The New York Times

In Ross's book, by far the liveliest and smartest popular introduction yet written to a century of diverse music, history winds through the pages like those highway signs and mountains. We linger over some; others whiz by. For a dozen years or so Ross has been the catholic-minded critic for The New Yorker, writing about new music without a chip on his shoulder or a tone of condescension and not as a defensive apologist for a supposedly embattled culture--but instead fluently, as if taking for granted that new music were on its own terms every bit as relevant and vital as contemporary art or literature. His prose is notable in a discipline that frets too much about its obsolescence . . . When he writes his way, Ross leads you to imagine you really are, to borrow his subtitle, listening to the twentieth century.--Michael Kimmelman, The New York Review of Books

What powers this amazingly ambitious book and endows it with authority are the author's expansive curiosity and refined openness of mind.--Jamie James, Los Angeles Times

An impressive, invigorating achievement . . . This is the best general study of a complex history too often claimed by academic specialists on the one hand and candid populists on the other. Ross plows his own broad furrow, beholden to neither side, drawing on both.--Stephen Walsh, The Washington Post

Readers love The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by New Yorker critic Alex Ross. It was that most rare literary beast--both a lively read and an authoritative overview of a complex topic. In its sweep Ross' book offered a bird's-eye view of a massive arc of time and space that ranged from Imperial Vienna and Mahler's monumental symphonies to Silicon Valley and John Adams' 'Nixon in China.'--Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times

It would be hard to imagine a

"Synopsis" by ,

Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book of the Year

Time magazine Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2007

Newsweek Favorite Books of 2007

A Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2007

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 history of the twentieth century as told through its music.

 

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