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Thread: Who's read Alex Ross's books?

  1. #1
    Senior Member GrosseFugue's Avatar
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    Default Who's read Alex Ross's books?

    Hi,

    I was curious about Alex Ross's latest offering, "Listen to This"? And wondered what others thought about it. I'm familiar with his New Yorker articles, which I assume his book is just a compilation of, though I understood there was some new stuff added.

    Also, wondered if his prior, "The Rest Is Noise" was worth dipping into. It got so many rave reviews, but I was kind of hesitant about delving into another "let me tell you the entire history of music" book. I don't like those books. Unless it's really fun.

    For my money, the best writer of CM was Harold C. Schonberg. Very smart with sharp humor; loved his writing style; it just flowed. He wrote a pretty awesome book on chess too: "Grandmasters of Chess."
    Last edited by GrosseFugue; Dec-03-2011 at 07:27.

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    Senior Member Meaghan's Avatar
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    I read The Rest Is Noise. It was fun, not really a typical "let me tell you the entire history of music" book; for one thing, it's just the 20th century, and he ties it into historical context. And it's got a companion on the web with listening samples of works he writes about, which is nice.
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    Senior Member bassClef's Avatar
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    "The Rest Is Noise" is very readable cover to cover, it's not so much of a "dip into" book I don't think. It offers some fascinating insight into the lives and works of the 20th Century composers, the detail of which I've not seen or heard elsewhere. It's written with some sprinkling of humour here and there, but it is more of a serious book rather than "fun".
    Last edited by bassClef; Dec-03-2011 at 09:13.
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    Senior Member Meaghan's Avatar
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    I guess when I say "fun," I really mean engaging or enjoyable, which might confuse people--it sounds like I mean "lighthearted," which The Rest Is Noise is only occasionally.

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    I enjoyed The Rest is Noise. It covers the entire 20th Century (maybe not the last decade), hitting just about every major and many almost-major composers, and it's very readable. I would consider Listen to This because of his writing style, but from what I've seen in scanning the book, it's talking about a lot of music I'm not that interested in.
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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I've read some chapters of The Rest is Noise. Like Manxfeeder, focussing on the things that interest me. I think, judging from that, it's pretty good. He does seem to be pretty balanced but at the same time gives his opinions. He's not a plastic writer, he's basically real & genuine as far as I can tell. I have not read his latest book, which is of course a different thing altogether...
    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "Oh! It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read."
    - Algernon Moncrieff (in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest).

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    Senior Member samurai's Avatar
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    I'm just finishing reading "The Rest Is Noise", and as both a non-musician and a "newbie" to the classical music genre, I would heartily recommend it to both those who match my description and seasoned musicians. IMHO, it is a very well-written opus which has a foot in both the non-musical and musical worlds.
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    Whatever floats your boat

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    Air
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    I'm reading the Rest is Noise right now! It's full of anecdotes, which I really like. A good book can't just be concerned with academia, in my opinion, and Ross realizes that.
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    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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    Air
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meaghan View Post
    And it's got a companion on the web with listening samples of works he writes about, which is nice.
    Wow, I didn't know that!!! Thanks Meaghan, this can prove quite useful.

    For those who are curious, a quick search led me to this link.
    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    Im reading the rest is noise it currently as well. I'm at the Shostakovich/Prokofiev chapter.

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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    I've heard of those books, but never read them.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I read several chapters of The Rest Is Noise on loan from the library. I found it very interesting reading. I plan on purchasing a copy so I can finish the book.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member GrosseFugue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air View Post
    For those who are curious, a quick search led me to this link.
    Thanks for the link. He's also got an interesting video up on Amazon for "Listen to This": http://www.amazon.com/Listen-This-Al...2986032&sr=8-2 I like how he got together three musicians of such diverse backgrounds/styles to give an example of Bach's Chaconne.

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