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Listen to This Paperback – October 25, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
LISTEN TO THIS proves to be far more episodic than THE REST IS NOISE. In contrast to that book's linear chronology, LISTEN TO THIS is simply a collection of essays on various musical subjects, most of which have already been published in Ross's primary meal ticket, THE NEW YORKER magazine. But LISTEN TO THIS is no less riveting, as Ross's engaging writing is by turns emotional (the sentimental chapter on Lorraine Hunt Lieberson), intelligent (he chronicles the entire musical history of a particular walking bass line in chapter two) and funny (the many on-campus scenes he depicts involving Marlboro College in "The Music Mountain"). Also, since it includes chapters on a wide variety of musicians, from Mozart to Dylan to Bjork to contemporary Chinese classical composers, LISTEN TO THIS truly does have "something for everyone," and reading through all of the essays is a great way to expose yourself to new music in which you may not have had any prior interest.Read more ›
In fact, this conjunction of music, crossing the border from classical to pop as he calls it, is precisely the book's strength, and possibly its greatest potential benefit. Though these essays are primarily about classical music, he writes with such a contagious zeal, with such an obvious love of music, that he shades the restrictive boundaries we've created to categorize music. He does this well in the above-mentioned pieces. But nowhere is this idea better put than in his essay, "Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues", where he ties the basso lamento of the middle ages through the centuries all the way to Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused". Ross gets it. He gets that music is music and any genre of it has the ability to touch anyone.
Still, his first love is classical, and nothing seems to concern him as much as the forms lack of popularity, especially the greatly underappreciated works of the twentieth century. This concern informs many of the essays.Read more ›
I liked most the first chapter and the one about Lorraine Hunt, probably also the chapters with the most personal involvement. And, even being a pure classical guy, I especially liked the chapters about the non-classical subjects since they told stories completely new to me. Friends who know more about this music were less impressed though.
Vice versa I was not so impressed by the hardcore classical chapters on Mozart, Schubert and Brahms. They are very interesting and intelligent but seemed to me more a summary of the latest scholary opinions than giving a real personal view.
I, as a German, also sensed much more in this book than in "The Rest Is Noise" that Americans have a different approach to classical music. Not that we don't have similar discussions about the near dead of classical music, the problems with the reception of contemporary classical music and the classification in "high culture" and "pop culture". But what's different is that Europeans consider classical music much more as part of their cultural identity, in a way that probably Americans feel about Hollywood as part of their identity no matter if they are especially interested in movies or not. For Americans classical music, even it also has a own long history by now, stays at the very bottom foreign and exotic, just as something not grown from own roots.
I believe that Alex Ross can enjoy and appreciate the sadness of the late Brahms' music.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alex Ross is a stellar writer, and I'm willing to bet he's a great musician, too.
This book of essays is based on articles he wrote for the New Yorker and the New York... Read more
I had to read this for a college level music class. I was skeptical about reading the title, but the book is amazing. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jason Anschutz
These days Alex Ross only writes about musical personalities and institutions. He seems lost in making sense of the multitude of musical styles that exist today. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jon Appleton
Very good discussion of Mitsuko Uchida. Very odd lack of discussion of Daniel Barenboim.Published 13 months ago by Bron Taylor
Alex Ross is a fine writer on all areas of serious music and it's performance. He writes with authority with out being a know it all.Published on November 20, 2013 by Rob E.
I bought this book to assign chapters to students for an introductory Music 101 class. Many of the chapters -- especially 1 and 3 -- are excellent for a course of this kind. Read morePublished on October 3, 2013 by Abigail Fine
This was a present for a friend who likes it. Alex Ross writes like a dream! I may order one for myself some time down the road.Published on September 16, 2013 by Marlies Hensel