The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century Details

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalism has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward.

The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

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Title:The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780374249397
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    The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century Reviews

  • Tony

    You know how you can watch a foreign language movie, without subtitles, and still enjoy the film? You may not speak German but can still tell that Hitler's pissed off. You may not speak French, but yo...

  • Greg

    This book took me way too long to read, which is a little strange because I found it very interesting and quite inspiring. I'm tempted to give it five stars, but I'm too much of a dilettante when it c...

  • Paul Christensen

    This book could be subtitled: ‘Musicians who did stuff after Wagner, with wildly varied results’. Wagner hovers like a ghost over this work, the Great Father whose achievements couldn’t be surpa...

  • Jonathan Barry

    I think this book is best read and listened to at the same time; it really adds to it. As such, I created a Youtube playlist to go along with your read, which you can find here: http://www.youtube.com...

  • kaelan

    This isn't something I say lightly, but pretty much everyone should consider reading Alex Ross' The Rest Is Noise.* Why? Because (a) it makes for a riveting work of political and cultural history, and...

  • Barry Pierce

    Alex Ross is one of my must-read New Yorker writers. Whenever a new piece of his comes out I know I'm going to be smarter than I was before. To me, he is the music critic. The Rest Is Noise is often r...

  • Michael Finocchiaro

    Who says history is boring? And who says classical music died with Wagner? Well I have actually always liked history but was largely unfamiliar with 20c classical music until I read Ross' excellent Th...

  • Gary

    alex ross is one of the few remaining music critics for a major american periodical (there used to be many more, but it's a dwindling profession/art), in his case, the new yorker. he attends a concert...

  • lark benobi

    This book is made so much more enjoyable because of the Internet--one of the few books you can say that about--because of the availability of samples of the music on the book's web site. I enjoyed the...

  • Tosh

    Alex Ross' wonderful trip to the 20th Century via the world of classical music and it's composers. As I mentioned I had very little knowledge of classical music - especially modern. I knew Glass, Reic...