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Listen to This [Paperback]

Alex Ross
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Oct 2011

In Listen to This, Alex Ross, the music critic for The New Yorker, looks both backward and forward in time, capturing essential figures and ideas in classical-music history as well as giving an alternative view of recent pop music that emphasizes the power of the individual musical voice in whatever genre.

Alex Ross’s award-winning international bestseller, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, has become a contemporary classic, establishing him as one of our most popular and acclaimed cultural historians.

In Listen To This Ross, the music critic for the New Yorker, looks both backwards and forwards in time, capturing essential figures and ideas in classical music history, as well as giving an alternative view of recent pop music that emphasizes the power of the individual musical voice.

After relating his first encounter with classical music, Ross vibrantly sketches canonical composers such as Schubert, Verdi and Brahms; gives us in-depth interviews wth modern pop masters such as Bjork and Radiohead; and introduces us to music students at a Newark high school and to indie-rock hipsters in Beijing. In his essay ‘Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues’, Ross brilliantly retells hundreds of years of music history - from Renaissance dance to Led Zeppelin - through a few iconic bass lines of celebration and lament.

Whether his subject is Mozart or Bob Dylan, Ross writes in a style at once erudite and lively, showing how music expresses the full complexity of the human condition. He explains how pop music can achieve the status of high art and how classical music can become a vital part of the wider contemporary culture. Witty, passionate and brimming with insight, Listen to This teaches us to listen more closely.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA; Reprint edition (25 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312610688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312610685
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,395,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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', published in 2007, was awarded the Guardian First Book Award and was shortlisted for the Pulitzer and Samuel Johnson prizes. In 2008 he became a MacArthur Fellow. A native of Washington, DC, he now lives in Manhattan.

Product Description


‘Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues..This essay is Alex Ross’s own chaconne, one that only he could have written – a display of lateral thinking as virtuosic, in its own way..It alone is worth the price of the book, which I strongly encourage you to buy’ Damian Thompson, Sunday Telegraph

‘These hugely enjoyable and serendipitous essays were written over more than a decade, resulting in a rewarding historical perspective. Ross's rapid-fire discourses on music from very different parts of the musical spectrum create fascinating perspectives. One minute, you're immersed in Mozart, and then suddenly you're on tour with Radiohead and contemplating what it must have felt like for an unworldly Finnish conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, to take the reins of the LA Philharmonic. Reading the book is the literary equivalent of an iPod on shuffle; it offers fresh and unexpected stimulation at every turn.’ Charles Hazlewood, Guardian

‘The qualities that make him a top-notch critic become clearer in concentrated reading…Ross is an avowed buff. He loves music with a nerdish obsession and he wants you to love it as much as he does’ New Statesman, Norman Lebrecht

Praise for ‘The Rest is Noise’:

‘It’s a history of 20th-century music so vivid and original in approach that it made me listen again to many pieces I thought I knew well.’ Philip Pullman, Guardian (Books of the Year)

‘Ranks as my non-fiction book of the year. Erudite and engaging, written with flair and passion.’ Boyd Tonkin Independent (Books of the Year)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

The main body of musical portraits and essays follows, with pop and classical topics intermingled. I will experiment with different options, and am open to suggestions, but I have in mind the following sequence: Mozart, Radiohead, and Esa-Pekka Salonen (music as a synthesis of disparate parts); Verdi, the St. Lawrence Quartet, and various innovators in music education (music as an act of communication and communal feeling); Debussy, Mitsuko Uchida, and Björk (the music of those who have traveled wide distances, either in physical space or in their imaginations); and, finally, Schubert, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and Bob Dylan (music as a radical expression of the individual consciousness).

Table of Contents:

1. LISTEN TO THIS: A Memoir of Listening
2. CHACONA: The History of a Bass Line
3. THE RECORD EFFECT: Music and Technology
5. ORBITING: Radiohead
6. THE ANTI-MAESTRO: Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic
7. VA, PENSIERO: Giuseppe Verdi
8. ALMOST FAMOUS: The St. Lawrence Quartet
9. LEARNING THE SCORE: Music Education
10. TITLE TK: Debussy
11. TITLE TK: Mistuko Uchida
13. GREAT SOUL: Franz Schubert
14. FERVOR: Remembering Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
15. I SAW THE LIGHT: Bob Dylan

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This! 3 Dec 2010
Alex Ross has one of those great jobs that seem to only exist in movies and/or in New York: he writes about music for the New Yorker. Then he goes all over the place talking about and reading what he's written. If he didn't write so well, so passionately and so engagingly it would be easy to hate him. And, by all accounts, he's a nice man too. Feck sake.
After the deserved success of "The Rest Is Noise" Ross has followed up with "Listen To This", which is essentially a collection of essays and pieces that he's written (mostly from the New Yorker). It's a really well collated collection and it displays his catholic tastes, from Bjork and Dylan to Brahms and John Luther Adams, and it also allows him to rove and range with an idea across the musical landscape: his long and engrossing piece on bass lines makes the book worth purchasing alone. But don't think this is a fusty exercise in musical elitism; Ross is extremely knowledgeable about music and he writes beautifully about structure, melody and composition, but his real gift is how he draws readers in and takes them on his journey too. His enthusiasm for his subjects is open and unguarded (but not uncritical) and he sweeps you along.
I'd been reading his pieces only every so often when I first read his great tale of his road trip with Dylan back in 1998. I was taken aback with how well he wrote about Dylan's music and his performances; I've been a Ross fan since then. Writing about music and musicians is fraught, at best. When it goes wrong, or more commonly when it goes flat and stale, it can be dreadful; when it works it really works. Good writing about music is unusual and the best of writers soar with the songs and melodies. And, most importantly, they send you back to the music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting and informative 10 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very enjoyable book written in a way that non musically trained people (which I happen to be) will find interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner 28 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Alex Ross on fine form again. If you liked The Rest Is Noise then you will love this as well.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to This 6 Jan 2011
Brilliant. I want to know more about music and this book was refreshing and links to a web site as well so the reader can listen to music referred can't get better than that.
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