Alex Ross

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

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Alex Ross’s sweeping history of twentieth-century classical music, winner of the Guardian First Book Award, is a gripping account of a musical revolution.
The landscape of twentieth-century classical music is a wild one: this was a period in which music fragmented into apparently divergent strands, each influenced by its own composers, performers and musical innovations. In this comprehensive tour, Alex Ross, music critic for the ‘New Yorker’, explores the people and places that shaped musical development: Adams to Zweig, Brahms to Björk, pre-First World War Vienna to ‘Nixon in China’.
Above all, this unique portrait of an exceptional era weaves together art, politics and cultural history to show how twentieth-century classical music was both a symptom and a source of immense social change.
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    Ricardo Morahas quotedlast year

    If you would like to hear some of the music discussed in these pages, a free audio companion is available at There you will find streaming samples arranged by chapter, along with links to audio-rich Web sites and other channels of direct access to the music. An iTunes playlist of twenty representative excerpts can be found at For a glossary of musical terms go to
    Ricardo Morahas quotedlast year
    Some genres have attained more popularity than others; none has true mass appeal. What delights one group gives headaches to another.
    Ricardo Morahas quoted2 years ago
    For the rich, classical music was a status symbol, a collector’s delight. Millionaires signed up musicians in much the same way they bought up and brought home pieces of European art.

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