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Listen to This

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,597 Ratings  ·  102 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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Jul 17, 2016 Nooilforpacifists rated it it was amazing
This is a book that requires time, space and thought--and a large library of recordings. For, like Alex Ross's previous book "The Rest is Noise", it was impossible not to play each piece, song or artifact Ross decrypts. And, because this book is a collection of (slightly edited) New Yorker pieces (Ross has been the music critic there since 1996), his sweep -- unlike his book on 20th Century "classical" music -- covers some pop as well.

Ross still writes best, I think, about the old forms of musi
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
Oct 05, 2013 Bruce rated it liked it
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
Alex Ross is one of the best music journalist for a reason. Excellent collection of articles! One of those books that you constantly revisit to get more references. I was told that his previous book The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is even better! Looking forward to reading it...
Nov 23, 2010 Bruce rated it it was ok
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
May 13, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
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
Rohan Arthur
Nov 04, 2015 Rohan Arthur rated it really liked it
I am a cautious, perhaps even a little suspicious explorer of the musically unfamiliar. Having a guide as assured of his ear as Alex Ross breaks down those fears. This is largely a compilation of Ross' New Yorker articles bookended with a set of pieces he wrote specifically for this publication. It is a rollicking juxtaposition of vignettes, flitting from Schubert to Radiohead, John Luther Adams (no, not THAT John Adams) to Björk, Brahms to Bob Dylan. He finds common threads, delves into their c ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Feb 08, 2011 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it
Shelves: mar-apr-2011
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 it was amazing
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
Greg Talbot
Jan 04, 2016 Greg Talbot rated it really liked it
Not too many young people are raised on "classical" music onto to encounter pop music the way Ross was. He claims to not have listened to pop until his college years, and slowly tear apart his musicial elitism with Bob Dylan and Sonic Youth. Most inspiring, he imbues the pop music he loves with the adult feeling that we too often look back to with adolescent wistfulness. Ross's collection of New Yorker essays have such a comfort ability with the pop world, and such a unique perspective on modern ...more
Dec 25, 2010 Bobby rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, music
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.
Jan 29, 2016 Raji rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The best music is the music that persuades us that there is no other music in the world."

I am not sure why I have this book, especially since non-fiction is not a usual indulgence. I think a compelling review must have been responsible. Anyway, its size kept it on my TBR list for quite some time. I am glad I read it, but, to be honest, this is not really my cup of tea.

The author is a music critic for The New Yorker and the book is a history (not comprehensive, I think, but near enough) of musi
Apr 15, 2012 Smh624 rated it did not like it
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?
Sep 04, 2014 York rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2012 Brian Lawlor rated it really liked it

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.
Alex Marshall
Jun 29, 2015 Alex Marshall rated it liked it
The manifesto for listening to classical music that makes up the first chapter of this is such an exhilarating piece of writing the rest of the book clearly isn't going to match up to it. Some of it really works - weirdly the pieces on non-classical music most (Bjork and Radiohead) - some don't, but that's always going to happen with collections of articles. Would preferred to actually admit more it's a collection of articles though - by splitting it into 3 parts it seems to try to almost convin ...more
Dec 28, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Sep 30, 2014 Bill Leach rated it liked it
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
Jul 29, 2016 Nick rated it really liked it
Ross grew up in the classical world and got into rock during his college years. I was exposed to classical somewhat as a kid but didn't take to it until my mid-20s - more or less of a reverse path. To me, Ross is at his best writing about classical. His profiles of Radiohead and Bjork fall a little too easily into the trail of twee and enigmatic nuggets ("the E.M. Forster of rock") that I'm used to from rock writers trying to meet deadline. His writing on Brahms and Schubert, on the other hand, ...more
Tara Brabazon
Mar 16, 2016 Tara Brabazon rated it liked it
This book is OK, but not brilliant. The book has one clean and important feature: it does not impose a hierarchy of cultural value. 'Classical' music melds with pop. The two best chapters investigate (the legendary - I am a big, big fan) Kiki and Herb and the profound challenges confronting music education.

Most of the chapters lack spark, energy and purpose. As I have said in the past, for something that matters to people as much as music, it is a tragedy that so often the writing about it is as
The book is a collection of articles written by the author for the New Yorker, with some revisions and expansions. They cover a larger chunk of the music scene than just classical music, which has become somewhat of a niche culture by the end of the 20th century. Read in this way, it can be thought of as a crash course in musical erudition. It covers music history, composition, the recording industry, experimental classical music, current trends in classical music, key figures in classical compo ...more
Oct 13, 2010 Gladia rated it really liked it
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
Jun 05, 2011 Brian rated it liked it
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
Jul 15, 2013 Aaron Jacobs rated it really liked it
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
Jun 22, 2013 Jill rated it liked it
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
Jul 24, 2012 Keith rated it really liked it
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
Dec 05, 2015 Neil rated it really liked it
Always enlightening, always compellingly readable, Ross is one of the finest music writers on the planet. A classical music obsessive by education and preference, these collected writings from his gig at the New Yorker also include profiles of Radiohead, Bjork and Sonic Youth that are as compelling as his takes on Mozart, Schubert and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Ross has the rare gift of never letting his deep thinking about music and society get in the way of being a serious fanboy.
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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.
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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
“The best kind of classical performance is not a retreat into the past but an intensification of the present. The mistake that apostles of the classical have always made is to have joined their love of the past to a dislike of the present. The music has other ideas: it hates the past and wants to escape.” 2 likes
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