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Listen to This

Alex Ross

Picador

0312610688

9780312610685

Trade Paperback

400 Pages

$19.00

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Winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature

Runner Up for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

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 today's most popular and acclaimed cultural historians. Listen to This, which takes its title from a 2004 essay in which Ross describes his late-blooming discovery of pop music, showcases the best of his writing from more than a decade at The New Yorker. These pieces, dedicated to classical and popular artists alike, are at once erudite and lively. In a previously unpublished essay, Ross brilliantly retells hundreds of years of music history—from Renaissance dances to Led Zeppelin—through a few iconic bass lines of celebration and lament. He vibrantly sketches canonical composers such as Schubert, Verdi, and Brahms; gives us in-depth interviews with modern pop masters such as Björk and Radiohead; and introduces us to music students at a Newark high school and indie-rock hipsters in Beijing.

Whether his subject is Mozart or Bob Dylan, Ross shows how music expresses the full complexity of the human condition. Witty, passionate, and brimming with insight, Listen to This teaches readers how to listen more closely.

REVIEWS

Praise for Listen to This

"Ross veers effortlessly from Mozart to Radiohead, and from Kurt Cobain to Bahms, bringing a pop fan's enthusiasm to the composers and treating the rock stars seriously as musicians . . . A joy for a pop fan or a classical aficionado."—The New York Times Book Review
 
"A posture of eclectic inquiry infuses this absorbing collection."—Amanda Heller, The Boston Globe
 
"A cause for celebration . . . Liston to This deserves to stand next to the best-written modern books on music."—Tom Nolan, San Francisco Chronicle

"Running through every piece is a spirit of adventure, common sense, joy, and, ultimately engagement."—Alan Moores, The Seattle Times
"Such a pleasure to read . . . a critic with an unusually wide frame of reference."—The Economist

"A love letter to sound . . . Ross deftly draws in the ears of the seasoned and the uninitiated alike, demystifying the traditions of music while celebrating its ability to transform . . . Undeniably essential."—Doyle Armbrust, Time Out (Chicago)

"It is rare to find a music critic who can write as authoritatively about Mozart and Schubert as he can about Radiohead and Björk . . . [Listen to This] is a reminder that a love of music need not—nay should not—be bound by category."—Toronto Star's "Ten Best Books of the Year"
"Lively and fascinating . . . Ross has a wonderful knack for catching the human gesture embedded in a musical phrase."—Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph (London)

"Listen to This reveals . . . [Ross] to be the exact kind of critic his era needs . . . in other words, he's a thinker with style and stylist who thinks . . . Alex Ross is one of the great civilized pleasures anywhere on any subject."—Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News (Editor's Choice)

"No matter how complex his thinking, Ross renders it in lucid approachable language: as you read Ross's writing, you hear him talking to you."—Fred Cohn, Opera News
 
"So graceful, so pithy, so thoughtful, and full of insight . . . one cannot believe that anyone who loves music would not love Listen to This."—The Christian Science Monitor
 
"[Ross] reminds me of my other favorite music critic, Bernard Shaw."—Roger Ebert
 
“Vibrant . . . A celebration of what it means to be alive in a world of great music.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Smart and thoughtful . . . The substantive, passionate writing contained in this book is a strong argument against the ossification of 'classical music.' It is also an argument for the continued relevance of the critic—somone who shows why we should listen to this, and why we should care."—Geeta Dayal, Bookforum

"In this brilliant collection, music critic Ross utilizes a wide musical scale—classical music in China; opera as popular art; sketches of Schubert, Bjork, Kiki and Herb—as a way of understanding the world. Featuring mostly revised essays published in the span of his 12-year career at the New Yorker, Ross offers timeless portraits that probe the ways that the powerful personalities of composers and musicians stamp an inherently abstract medium so that certain notes, songs, or choruses become instantly recognizable as the work of a certain artist. The virtuoso performance comes in the one previously unpublished essay, 'Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues', where Ross isolates three different bass lines as they wind through music history from the 16th-century chacona, a dance that promised the upending of the social order, through the laments of Bach, opera, and finally the blues. Ross nimbly finds the common ground on which 16th-century Spanish musicians, Bach, players from Ellington' s 1940 band and Led Zeppelin' s bassist John Paul Jones can stand, at least momentarily."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Listen to This
PART I1LISTEN TO THISCROSSING THE BORDER FROM CLASSICAL TO POP 
 
 
 
 
I hate "classical music": not the thing but the name. It traps a tenaciously living art in a theme park of the past. It cancels out the possibility that music in the spirit of Beethoven could still be created today. It banishes into limbo the work of thousands of active composers who have to explain to otherwise well-informed people what it is they do for a living. The phrase is a masterpiece of negative publicity, a tour de force of anti-hype. I wish there were another
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MEDIA

Watch

  • Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues

    Alex Ross discusses how one bass line appears throughout history as a piece of musical DNA. With Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Ringle, and guitarist/composer Tyondai Braxton

  • Listen to This by Alex Ross--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Listen to This by Alex Ross. 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 discovery of pop music, showcases the best of his writing from more than a decade at The New Yorker.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Alex Ross

  • Alex Ross has been the music critic for The New Yorker since 1996. He is the author of the international bestseller The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, which was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award.  He is also the recipient of two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for music criticism, a Holtzbrinck Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre, and a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for significant contributions to the field of contemporary music.

  • Alex Ross David Michalek
    Alex Ross
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