Sabin's Reviews > The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

The Rest Is Noise by Alex  Ross
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's review

really liked it
bookshelves: listened-to, non-fiction

I have to admit my relative ignorance of classical music before I read this book, also while reading it and sadly even after finishing it. Reading about music is not the same as listening to it, and a youtube recording of a piece of music does not even come close to attending to a live performance.

However, the book was an enjoyable read, even with limited knowledge of classical music and music theory, because of the way it linked classical music to the major cultural and political changes of the 20th century. It is not only a history of 20th century classical music, but also a history of classical music in the 20th century.

The downside is that the book partially failed to live up to its promise. At the beginning the author states a popular assumption that classical music has died or is dying during the course of the 20th century. However, the uneven coverage of the century, the latter part receiving less attention than the first half of the century, somewhat undermines its objective and leaves the impression that its influence is diminishing. The reason, I think, may be that because there are so many genres of music, it is much harder to analyse classical music at the end of the 20th century without a much more in depth analysis of other genres influenced by it.

All in all, quite a long book, but worth the time.

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Reading Progress

May 21, 2014 – Started Reading
May 21, 2014 – Shelved
June 3, 2014 – Shelved as: listened-to
June 3, 2014 – Finished Reading
July 19, 2016 – Shelved as: non-fiction

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