Fourth Estate £9.99 (690pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
The Rest is Noise, By Alex Ross
Friday 24 April 2009
From Mahler and Richard Strauss past Britten and Gershwin to Bjork and the Velvet Underground, The New Yorker's awesomely eloquent critic tells the story of musical composition in the 20th century. As he focuses on the works and people that truly counted, Ross can switch from Ellington to Sibelius without missing a beat.
Yet behind the artful segues between classical, jazz and pop lies a cogent vision of individual genius empowered and menaced by changes in its audience, society and technology. In a history of modern souls as well as modern sounds, Ross makes the music you know feel vitally new - and compels you to fix an urgent aural date with the music you don't.
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