Fourth Estate £10.99 (380pp) £9.89 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Listen to This, By Alex Ross
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 07 October 2011
From John Dowland to Led Zeppelin, JS Bach to Robert Johnson, critic Alex Ross spans many octaves without any sign of strain.
The vision of music as a single realm forcibly divided into sects drove Ross's superb study of 20th-century sounds, The Rest Is Noise. Here, he selects essays from the New Yorker. His trumpet-blast manifesto blazes with impatience over the fate of "classical" music, "an ageless diva on a nonstop farewell tour".
Lavish on-the-road profiles illuminate favourites such as Radiohead, Dylan and Björk. Stylish overviews of Mozart, Verdi and Brahms bring older heroes to new fans. And Ross hopes for a time when punks will encounter Beethoven's Eroica and discover, as he did, the shock of the new in its 200-year-old chords.
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