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Listen to This

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,180 ratings  ·  88 reviews
One of The Telegraph's Best Music Books 2011

Alex Ross's award-winning international bestseller, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, has become a contemporary classic, establishing Ross as one of our most popular and acclaimed cultural historians. Listen to This, which takes its title from a beloved 2004 essay in which Ross describes his late-blooming dis
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aaron Arnold
I'm a big fan of music, which is hardly unusual, but I'm also a big fan of music criticism, which is a little less common. I've always been fascinated by how difficult it is to translate the mental impressions created by listening to music into words. It takes real talent to avoid either ascending to the impenetrable heights of formal theory analysis (tritones, parallel fifths, the Locrian mode, etc), diverting the aesthetic reactions into an emotional referendum on the songwriter or target audi ...more
Music critic (The New Yorker) Alex Ross is a perceptive and articulate writer, his style perfectly attuned to what one would expect in that magazine. This present volume is a collection of his essays and addresses a wide variety of topics. Ross is usually adroit at weaving observations about musicians and their works into the cultures and artistic movements, and at his best his writing is compelling. I especially enjoyed his essays on “Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues” in which he traces a musica ...more
This book is a collection of essays about music that Ross had previously had published in the last 10-15 years (mostly by The New Yorker). He's done some re-writing but hasn't bothered to assemble them into much of a meaningful order, hence the two-star rating. Don't get me wrong. Despite a bit of word salad (see, e.g., the last paragraph of the inconclusive chapter on Brahms), Ross's authorial voice is engaging. Readers seeking an entree to the worlds of Mozart, Schubert, Robert Luther Adams, B ...more
Justin Evans
A hit and miss collection, which isn't too surprising, given the range and my own peculiarities as a reader. The first, manifesto-like piece is very entertaining: say no to Classical Music, yes to demanding music, which is what a bunch of boring people call Classical Music! Then a piece on a short sequence which is used across all genres and throughout the musical hierarchy, deftly showing that our separations of popular from classical are more or less nonsense... which is also tremendously bori ...more
Mariano Hortal
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En su anterior y exitoso (en cuanto a crítica y público) ”El ruido eterno”, Alex Ross realizaba un repaso de todo la música clásica del siglo XX encadenándola a al contexto cultural e histórico consiguiendo un libro de fácil lectura y que además quitaba prejuicios y ayudaba a comprender a gente tan extraña como John Cage o Alban Berg, además lo acompañaba de un imprescindible acompañamiento musical disfrutable a través de su web que hacía aún m
Bookmarks Magazine
Full of surprises and sharp observations, this "absorbing, illuminating, exciting collection" (San Francisco Chronicle) gives equal billing to pop stars and classical composers, crossing musical margins with remarkable fluidity. Though they bear the New YorkerÕs signature style, most critics upheld Ross's writing as eloquent and thoughtful, in language accessible to both laypersons and connoisseurs (although aficionados may have an easier time with the details). The Washington Post complained th ...more
Jerry Oliver
Aug 24, 2011 Jerry Oliver rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves music.
Recommended to Jerry by: A good friend
This is a great book. It gave me a much greater understanding and appreciation for classical music through explorations of the life and works of Mozart, Schubert, Verdi and Brahms as well as modern day composers and performers like John Luther Adams and The St. Lawrence String Quartet. The book also explores the lives, music and methods of some of todays most inventive musicians like Radiohead, Bjork and Bob Dylan. Ross also introduces the reader to music students and a Newark high school and in ...more
Some of the best writing about music that I've ever read. My review can simply be this...It made me want to listen to more classical music and learn more about music in general. He hits that "golden mean" of being accessible to me (quite ignorant in composition or theory) and yet getting into some of the higher level discussion that would appeal to any musicologist. Very impressed and look forward to reading more of his work.
What a disappointment. I had high expectations for this book and found it annoying in every way. Some of the writing about classical music was interesting but mostly it went on too long with nothing really to say. The discussions of "popular" music was just ridiculous. Don't waste your time. Is it possible to give a book zero stars?
El libro sobre música más complejo y académico que he leído en mi vida.

Parte del género clásico, con las grandes piezas de orquesta y sinfonías, en una serie concienzuda de ensayos sobre métrica, progresión y partituras para de ahí ir saltando a la música popular y los detonantes de géneros más populares y actuales.

Algunas reflexiones, como los paralelismos entre la llegada del MP3 y la invención del fonógrafo son brillantes, una quinta parte del libro la dedica a hablar de Bob Dylan y la rele
Brian Lawlor

Excellent book, truly inspiring however without listening to the pieces being discussed, it can be hard work at times. Will be buying some of this music when I can.
"Listen to This" opened up new worlds of music for me, and had me listening afresh to music I studied years ago. Wonderful essays.
Bill Leach
A set of nineteen essays on music. While largely addressing classical music, mush attention is given to modern music of a number of gendres.

Some are about performers including Radiohead, Bjork, the St. Lawrence Quartet, Marian Anderson and Bob Dylan.

Essays are included on composers such as Mozart, Schubert, John Adams, and Verdi.

Essays address the issues of musical education and the effect of recordings on music.

Possibly the most interesting chapter was about Esa-Pekka Salonen and his successful
Exiles, wanderers, restless searchers. That’s who many musically possessed men and women are according to Alex Ross. I can’t guarantee on that, but I can say that sharing those traits helped me get closer to music.

Listen To This is a collection of essays that spans across several different topics concerning music: from Mozart to Radiohead, from the Marlboro Retreat to the evolution of classical music in China. Education, profiles, means of communication. Ross didn’t leave anything out. One of th
Kristin Shafel Omiccioli
As a musician and music critic myself, I have admired Alex Ross and his work since I first read The Rest is Noise in 2008.

Listen to This is a collection of essays originally published in The New Yorker, for which Ross is the music critic. The essays range broadly across centuries, from the classical to pop genres, from investigative reporting to academic criticism, and with some artist profiles thrown in for good measure.

Ross's enthusiasm for his subject matter is undeniably apparent and makes e
Enrique Llorens
Después de leer "El Ruido Eterno", el anterior libro de Alex Ross, uno ya sabe más o menos qué es lo que se va a encontrar en esta colección de ensayos sueltos, dado que las obsesiones de Alex Ross quedaron muy claras en aquél y se repiten en éste: una especie de musicología de género obsesionada con los homosexuales y todo lo que tenga que ver con ellos (compositores abierta o no tan abiertamente homosexuales) o la querencia por los músicos negros y su (mala) suerte en el elitista panorama de l ...more
A collection of essays, with chapters alternating between classical and pop music. Other than this order, the essays don't appear to be arranged in any order, so the book lacks cohesion and any sort of common narrative thread. Well, the concept of basso lamento was somewhat recurrent, but he always just mentioned it as an aside.

Ross is the music critic for the New Yorker and primarily writes about classical music. I am what he calls a "culturally aware non-attender", in that I know about and lis
Aaron Jacobs
After reading The Rest Is Noise, Ross' surprisingly entertaining book about 20th century classical music, I was eager to look into this collection of his essays that includes some topics I was more personally familiar with, particularly the articles on Radiohead, Bjork, and Bob Dylan. The Bjork article is fantastic, exhibiting a depth to her character and her artistic style that go a long way to convince the reader that she is indeed from this planet. The other two are both engaging as well, but ...more
This book was very high and low for me, although part of that had to do with the fact that I've never studied music academically nor do I have any knowledge of music history prior to the 1960s. Listen To This is a collection of Alex Ross's pieces for The New Yorker, all of which are well written but many were out of my reach. I enjoyed the essays about Bjork, Bob Dylan, music education and a few others because I was able to relate to them, but the very technical analyses of classic compositions ...more
n his latest collection of essays, Ross argues that classical music and its contemporary heirs get unfairly ignored or maligned by people who embrace other forms of music and art. Listen to This argues for the vitality and relevance of classical music and situates contemporary music within the context of its legacy. Through criticism, reportage, and autobiography, Ross revisits old masters such as Mozart and Brahms, introduces new musicians outside the mainstream, and profiles pop icons such as ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Eliot rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
Today I finished reading Listen to This, or as much of it as I am going to. I have been reading the essays out of order. I knew it was time to quit when three page into an essay on Mozart I suddenly realized I'd already read it. These are stylish, diverting pieces--Ross is knowledgeable and an elegant writer--but they lack heft. Some of these essays began as reviews for The New Yorker and The Nation, and they retain a magazine feel, lightly skimming the glossy surface of profound subjects. One o ...more
Alex Ross has a very clear gift for ruminating about music. His book, Listen to This, is a collection of those essays. I enjoy his writing, having been introduced to it through The Rest is Noise, but in this latest collection, I found the writing to be a little exhausting. Through an attempt to write on mainstream music, he covers Bjork and Radiohead, among others. These artists are the same reaction to popular music that serialism is to classical. Ross's chapters on music education and Brahms, ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Brian rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Good writing, though a little technical at times (at least for me). It hangs together like the desultory collection of essays it is, but I enjoyed reading about Cobain and Brahms in the same context, and I loved the author's discovery of pop after classical.
Really well written, and comprehensive but it demands some very high level knowledge about music and music theory to understand. I'm trying to learn the basics of music theory and hoped to get a good overview of how classical bridges into pop, and I *think* this book does it, but I'm not sure. Might try again in a few years.
Spiritedly recommended. Alex Ross writes of music cultural history so richly and well (barring some minor errors -- I guess the New Yorker can't afford fact-checkers either), and is so adept at exciting interest in the novice listener that I recorded most of the suggested tracks in the appendix in a wishlist, and visited his site for audio-enhanced definitions of musicology terms. Brahms, Verdi, Ockerghem, Messiaen, Dylan, Radiohead, Kiki and Herb's musical and entertainment contributions are ex ...more
As a musician and private music teacher, I found it easy to get into Ross's exploration of such a vast array of genres, artists, and the settings in which they ply their trade. Even for those not so musically inclined, the mildly technical discussion of compositional techniques are never daunting and, for the most part, it's simply a fascinating look behind the curtain of writing, performing, teaching, conducting, and recording music. Perhaps what's best about Ross's approach is that he treats m ...more
Dave Peticolas
I love reading good music criticism and this is some of the best I have found. Ross's listening spans genres and periods and the writing reflects a vast knowledge of music history.
Some essays were 4-star, some 2. The essays I enjoyed, I enjoyed very much. There just weren't enough of them.
Adam Jacobson
As a series of essays originally written for the New Yorker, it's not as compelling as his comprehensive history of 20th century music (The rest is noise - which I've also reviewed). His writing covers a very wide range of topics and sometimes (as with Bork), I'm just not that interested.

That said, he's a wonderful writer and critic. And indeed, his essays have spurred me to further interest--as in we recently saw the Philharmonic because Esa Pekka Salonen was conducting. It was wonderful.

So, a
This book almost got me to listen to classical music.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Alex Ross has been the music critic of The New Yorker since 1996. From 1992 to 1996 he wrote for the New York Times. His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, was published in 2007 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and became a national bestseller.
More about Alex Ross...
The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century Best Music Writing 2011 The Rest Is Noise Series: Doctor Faust: Schoenberg, Debussy, and Atonality The Rest Is Noise Series: The Golden Age: Strauss, Mahler, and the Fin de Siecle The Rest Is Noise Series: Beethoven Was Wrong: Bop, Rock, and the Minimalists

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“For at least a century, the music has been captive to a cult of mediocre elitism that tries to manufacture self-esteem by clutching at empty formulas of intellectual superiority.” 3 likes
“O melhor tipo de interpretação clássica não é um recuo para o passado, mas uma intensificação do presente” 0 likes
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