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This book took me way too long to read, which is a little strange because I found it very interesting and quite inspiring I m tempted to give it five stars, but I m too much of a dilettante when it comes to cough, serious music to not necessarily take everything that the author is saying at face value I do have two complaints about the books though, the first is that the author clearly dislikes the one of the few people I probably do count as an actual hero of mine I don t hold it strongly ag This book took me way too long to read, which is a little strange because I found it very interesting and quite inspiring I m tempted to give it five stars, but I m too much of a dilettante when it comes to cough, serious music to not necessarily take everything that the author is saying at face value I do have two complaints about the books though, the first is that the author clearly dislikes the one of the few people I probably do count as an actual hero of mine I don t hold it strongly against him that he finds Adorno to what s the word , not necessarily wrong, but some kind of extremist snob for lack of a better word Every time Adorno makes an appearance on these pages he comes across like a rapid attack dog of anti everything except for strict Schoenberg non mass appeal Which might be true, I ve never really delved into his music writings too deeply, but the picture of him as an enfant terrible is I like a bit of a cartoonish exaggeration The second complaint I would have of the book is that it kind of stops short of being a history of 20th century music and kind of peters out around 1976 with Reich s Music for 18 Musicians A few other composers are talked about and works that they release in the same year, but all talk of the last quarter of the century is treated in a very fragmentary and stilted manner Maybe there isn t much to talk about, but the style of the book changes in the last fifty pages or so in a way that makes the very end of the book read like a series of notes the author made on a handful of composers and records In this last section there are also name droppings of pop artists like Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Bjork, which pulls together the history of serious music with pop music, but without doing muchthan dropping the names in the swirl of the kind of chaotic finish The author also uses the phrase moshpit of the mind which is almost totally inexcusable in the context it s given in, and actually shouldn t be used by anyone It s moments like that which seem to make the author trying to hard to sound hip, but there isn t anything hip about using the word moshpit, and really the only people who would ever say something like that are someone s dad who heard the word and thinks it s what with it people are saying I can t hold this against the author too strongly though.All in all I really enjoyed this book, and it s treatment of pre World War 2 music especially in Germany was very informative to me I have a feeling that anyone seriously into modern music will find the book to be missing some of their favorites, or think the book treats certain movements too quickly, but as a general overview of a chaotic century s musical trends this book seems to do it s job just fine Alex Ross is one of my must read New Yorker writers Whenever a new piece of his comes out I know I m going to be smarter than I was before To me, he is the music critic The Rest Is Noise is often referred to as the book on 20th century classical music And I can only further perpetrate that sentiment. This book could be subtitled Musicians who did stuff after Wagner, with wildly varied results Wagner hovers like a ghost over this work, the Great Father whose achievements couldn t be surpassed in toto, only in miniature via crazier and crazier endeavours The composers range from deep genius Debussy, Sibelius to sterile fapping too many to name , but whether one loves or hates their music is irrelevant as this is primarily a work of social history The author describes classical music This book could be subtitled Musicians who did stuff after Wagner, with wildly varied results Wagner hovers like a ghost over this work, the Great Father whose achievements couldn t be surpassed in toto, only in miniature via crazier and crazier endeavours The composers range from deep genius Debussy, Sibelius to sterile fapping too many to name , but whether one loves or hates their music is irrelevant as this is primarily a work of social history The author describes classical music in the 2000s as a sunken cathedral , i.e an interregnum, and who knows what comes next I think this book is best read and listened to at the same time it really adds to it As such, I created a Youtube playlist to go along with your read, which you can find here you re looking for a listen with better sound quality and don t mind finding them yourselves I can t blame you , then here is the list of songs that I thought captured the book Richard Strauss Also Sprach ZarathustraGustav Mahler Symphony No 8Claude Debussy Arabesque ICl I think this book is best read and listened to at the same time it really adds to it As such, I created a Youtube playlist to go along with your read, which you can find here you re looking for a listen with better sound quality and don t mind finding them yourselves I can t blame you , then here is the list of songs that I thought captured the book Richard Strauss Also Sprach ZarathustraGustav Mahler Symphony No 8Claude Debussy Arabesque IClaude Debussy Prelude to the Afternoon of a FaunArnold Schoenberg Verkl rte NachtAnton Webern Six Pieces for OrchestraIgor Stravinsky Rite of SpringDarius Milhaud ScaramoucheWill Marion Cook Swing Along Charles Ives The Unanswered QuestionGeorge Gershwin Rhapsody in BlueJean Sibelius Symphony No 2 Paul Hindemith Sonate per viola e pianoforteLouis Armstrong Mack the KnifeArnold Schoenberg JakobsleiterAlban Berg Lulu SuiteDmitri Shostakovich Symphony No 5Aaron Copland Appalachian SpringJohn Cage Music of ChangesKarlheinz Stockhausen TelemusikBenjamin Britten Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes Olivier Messiaen Quartet for the End of TimeMorton Feldman Rothko ChapelJohn Adams Common Tones in Simple Time [ READ BOOK ] ⚓ The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century ⚕ 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 , 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 This isn t something I say lightly, but pretty much everyone should consider reading Alex Ross The Rest Is Noise Why Because a it makes for a riveting work of political and cultural history, and b it provides a layman s entry point into that most venerable of Western art forms classical music.I first became acquainted with this book in my late teens By that time, I d already immersed myself quite heavily in free jazz, noise, and the like But classical music especially the 20th century This isn t something I say lightly, but pretty much everyone should consider reading Alex Ross The Rest Is Noise Why Because a it makes for a riveting work of political and cultural history, and b it provides a layman s entry point into that most venerable of Western art forms classical music.I first became acquainted with this book in my late teens By that time, I d already immersed myself quite heavily in free jazz, noise, and the like But classical music especially the 20th century variety had thus far eluded my understanding Like many otherwise adventurous young listeners, I felt overwhelmed by the plethora of composers, performers and recordings to choose from And in this regard, avant jazz was comparatively speaking pretty straightforward all you needed to do was track yourself down a copy of Interstellar Space or Free Jazz or Spiritual Unity With composed music, the problem was knowing where the hell you should even start.Enter The Rest Is Noise Over the course of fifteen chapters, which trace the development of modern classical from Strauss and Mahler up until the present age, Ross examines the seminal musical works of the 20th century, as well as the social and political contexts that birthed them It s all terribly fascinating stuff But history only makes up one side of the coin, and the book concludes with a list of recommended recordings acomprehensive list may be found on Ross website to guide the inexperienced listener through the disorienting terrain of aural source material.Yet this book doesn t only tell you what to listen to it also teaches you how to listen Gifted with an arresting propensity for translating sounds into words, Ross occasionally devotes a few pages to a single piece of music, explaining how a particular snare drum pattern in a Shostakovich symphony, say, might function as a subtle critique of authoritarianism, or how the retrograde rhythms in a Messiaen chamber work serve to hinder the audience s perception of time And by means of these descriptions, Ross deftly inculcates the art of deep listening, of knowing how to successfully parse a swirling miasma of tones, textures and timbres.In short, The Rest Is Noise is an effective gateway drug into the wild and mystifying world of 20th century classical music And so I say, Bravo, bravo , as I rise for a standing ovation P.S If anyone would like some classical recommendations, shoot me a message and I d bethan happy to obligeSave for perhaps the illiterate and the hopelessly tone deaf. alex ross is one of the few remaining music critics for a major american periodical there used to be many , but it s a dwindling profession art , in his case, the new yorker he attends a concertthan once if possible, with the score and without, in order to both understand the music and feel it and he s young, so his ears aren t burdened with decades of ear wax, received wisdom, archaic prejudice, etc.how rare is it to ever find anyone who can write about music an impossible cha alex ross is one of the few remaining music critics for a major american periodical there used to be many , but it s a dwindling profession art , in his case, the new yorker he attends a concertthan once if possible, with the score and without, in order to both understand the music and feel it and he s young, so his ears aren t burdened with decades of ear wax, received wisdom, archaic prejudice, etc.how rare is it to ever find anyone who can write about music an impossible challenge on the face of it, if one is going to say anythingthan technical data like, the dotted sixteenths in bar25 mirror the attenuated chromatic intonation etc etc his grasp of the material is sure his writing is tonic, refreshing his insights are sharp his tone, fresh he s on the dime.he s been working on this book for some time and finally it s out there are a few inevitable repetitions here and there, in stitching the whole thing together, but hey hands down, THE best book on 20th century Western music you ll ever find in THIS one.AND you can enhance your reading by visiting his website, where he s posted representative selections, for each chapter, as well as his always lively bloghear, here Who says history is boring And who says classical music died with Wagner Well I have actually always liked history but was largely unfamiliar with 20c classical music until I read Ross excellent The Rest is Noise Alex Ross does an amazing job of writing the history of the 20c in classical music starting at the waning but overwhelming influence of Wagner on early 20c composers like Schoenberg and Stravinsky through the onset of atonal music and on through the wars and the crazy 60 s I had NO Who says history is boring And who says classical music died with Wagner Well I have actually always liked history but was largely unfamiliar with 20c classical music until I read Ross excellent The Rest is Noise Alex Ross does an amazing job of writing the history of the 20c in classical music starting at the waning but overwhelming influence of Wagner on early 20c composers like Schoenberg and Stravinsky through the onset of atonal music and on through the wars and the crazy 60 s I had NO idea that classical music was so incredibly rich and interesting particularly in the previous century I don t want to spoil anything here because it is incredibly readable and you will learn on nearly every page I am still trying to get through all the recordings that he posted on his book s website which could serve as a fore taste of how great this book is Don t walk but run toand grab a copy I liked it so much that I bought the sequel Listen to Thishappy reading Alex Ross wonderful trip to the 20th Century via the world of classical music and it s composers As I mentioned I had very little knowledge of classical music especially modern I knew Glass, Reich, Satie, but overall this is pretty much a new world music wise.Saying that this is also the history of cultural life in the 20th Century The best chapeters deal with Nazi Germany and Stalin s Russia and how they used music and how it affected the composers of that place and time.In a distant way Alex Ross wonderful trip to the 20th Century via the world of classical music and it s composers As I mentioned I had very little knowledge of classical music especially modern I knew Glass, Reich, Satie, but overall this is pretty much a new world music wise.Saying that this is also the history of cultural life in the 20th Century The best chapeters deal with Nazi Germany and Stalin s Russia and how they used music and how it affected the composers of that place and time.In a distant way the book reminds me of The City of Nets in that there are many stories being told because some of them are real characters but also for me there were some dry areas Not sure because of the text or the writer s focus, or maybe it s just the subject matter But overall I think this book is pretty essential in not only music history but also how music interacts with society culture of that time Ross is really good at giving the big picture This is a comprehensive overview of Western music in the twentieth century I was lucky enough to live in Los Angeles in the last decade when Disney Hall opened, so I heard music by many of these composers played by both the full orchestra and by smaller groups in the Green Umbrella series Plus there was Jacaranda in Santa Monica Those two sources taught me to appreciate modern music, so I read this with muchexperience and curiosity than I would have had fifteen years ago.But the operati This is a comprehensive overview of Western music in the twentieth century I was lucky enough to live in Los Angeles in the last decade when Disney Hall opened, so I heard music by many of these composers played by both the full orchestra and by smaller groups in the Green Umbrella series Plus there was Jacaranda in Santa Monica Those two sources taught me to appreciate modern music, so I read this with muchexperience and curiosity than I would have had fifteen years ago.But the operative word is read In fact I listened to an audiobook, but it wasn t much different than reading the book What a lost opportunity there were no interspersed audio examples of what Ross was writing about I have heard perhaps 5 percent of the music he describes I am not a musician, so I was unable to hear in my head most of the pieces he describes with substantial verbal notation I suppose the problem was one of getting rights to that many recordings, but even one example for the major composers would have helped, especially for the last half of the century.You can go to Ross s website to get audio samples, which is an essential service if you re reading the book, but it does seem as if integrating them into the audiobook woudl have been a no brainer.Tony has also done a wonderful service in assembling some websites to compensate for this lack see his review athttps www.goodreads.com review showPart of the reason I enjoyed the book so much is that Ross s own music preferences are on display, and they are very similar my own, excepting Britten He is acidic on Pierre Boulez s despotic rule in mid Century, in particular on his devastating dismissal of earlier innovators like Sibelius So one notes with a different attitude than before the tributes to Boulez in Sunday s New York Times and in fact, some of the tributes are given with qualifications and this years focus on Boulez in Berlin s Festtage festival He s also a bit dismissive of Glass I do like his Satyagraha nevertheless.The book is written clearly, for readers of varying musical knowledge I took two or three years of music lessons, and was able to follow a little of the discussion, but even a complete novice can follow much of the plot the various developmental strands of composing schools as well as episodes featuring the full renegades like Henry Cowell There are plenty of anecdotes to hold one s interest For someone withmusical knowledge there is plenty of information about the evolution of the Vienna School and the American avant garde as they inventedandabstruse systems until the whole thing collapsed Now we have Salonen and Ades and Adams and Saariiaho and Golijov loved the Mass from the first moment I heard it years ago and dozensgoing off in all directions What a cornucopia of noise