Listen to This
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Listen to This

3.7 11
by Alex Ross
     
 

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One of The Telegraph's Best Music Books 2011

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 our most popular and acclaimed cultural historians. Listen to This, which takes its title from a beloved 2004 essay in which

Overview

One of The Telegraph's Best Music Books 2011

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 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. 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 In a previously unpublished essay, Ross brilliantly retells hundreds of years of music history—from Renaissance dances to Led Zeppelin—through a few iconic bass lines of celebration and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 us how to listen more closely.

Editorial Reviews

Alex Ross has been the New Yorker music critic since 1996, but he has only one previous book to his credit. That opus, however, won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. This standalone successor to The Rest Is Noise (978031247719) collects choice New Yorker pieces that display the range of Ross' expertise and enthusiasms. Topics include Schubert, Cecil Taylor, Radiohead, Mozart, Marian Anderson, Bob Dylan, and Brahms. Like its predecessor, Listen to This sets an exemplary standard.

Publishers Weekly
In this brilliant collection, music critic Ross (The Rest Is Noise) 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. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“The triumph of Listen to This is that Ross dusts off music that's centuries old to reveal the passion and brilliance that's too often hidden from a contemporary audience. It's a joy for a pop fan or a classical aficionado.” —New York Times Review of Books

“Even at his most cerebral, Ross deftly draws in the ears of the seasoned and the uninitiated alike, demystifying the traditions of music while celebrating its ability to transform. . . Listen to This is undeniably essential.” —Doyle Armbrust, Time Out Chicago

“A collection of supremely eloquent essays, addressing a range of subjects from Bach to Björk.” —Jeremy A. Eichler, The Boston Globe

“Every page of this collection is rich with vivid analysis and evocative vigor...Listen to This deserves to stand next to the best-written modern books on music: the collected works of Whitney Balliett, say, and Ross' own recent history of 20th century sounds, The Rest Is Noise.” —Tom Nolan, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Vibrant . . . A celebration of what it means to be alive in a world of great music.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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)

Kirkus Reviews
The interstellar battle between the Autobots and Decepticons rains destruction down on planet Earth as director Michael Bay adapts Hasbro and Takara's popular Transformers franchise into a big-budget, live-action summer tentpole extravaganza in this ambitious sci-fi action feature starring Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Bernie Mac, {|John Turturro|}, {|Jon Voight|}, and, of course, Optimus Prime and Megatron. Long ago, on the planet of Cybertron, a massive, powerful alien race divided into two factions, the noble Autobots, and the devious Decepticons. They fought for the sole access to a talisman known as the Allspark, a cube with the capacity to grant infinite power, and eventually the Autobots smuggled it off the planet's surface, hiding it in an unknown location on Earth. Now, hundreds of years later, the Deceptacons have come looking for it, and if the Autobots don't find it first, the Earth will be enslaved or destroyed by the evil aliens' use of its massive power. The Autobots don't know where the cube was hidden, but the information may be stored in the most unlikely of sources, as a gangly young Earthling named Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) who's just picked up his first car, has a strange connection to the Allspark's history, making him the unlikely ally of these enormous creatures, as they fight for humankind's survival and the chance to return home.
Michael Dirda
Ross's essays themselves embrace almost every aspect of music, and for this he deserves all honor. In particular, he cogently argues that we need to ignore the artificial boundaries between contemporary pop and classical, that we should pay attention to ambitious music no matter what its source or how it's marketed. As a result, Listen to This includes pieces on concert hall oldies but goodies such as Mozart, Schubert and Brahms but also on contemporary pop gods like Bob Dylan, Bjork and Radiohead.
—The Washington Post
Alan Light
Though the bulk of the book examines classical work both historical and contemporary, Ross veers effortlessly from Mozart to Radiohead, from Kurt Cobain to Brahms, bringing a pop fan's enthusiasm to the composers and treating the rock stars seriously as musicians…The triumph of Listen to This is that Ross dusts off music that's centuries old to reveal the passion and brilliance that's too often hidden from a contemporary audience. It's a joy for a pop fan or a classical aficionado.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374187743
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 11.28(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Disc 1 - Commentary by director Michael Bay; Disc 2 - Our World - Explore the world of Transformers through interviews with the cast and crew, stunt training footage, and exclusive access to the on-set locations; Their War - Learn more about the Autobots and Decepticons with exclusive access to production design, military advisors, and digital special effects; More than meets the eye - An in-depth featurette on the making of the Skorponok Desert attack scene and concept boards

Meet the Author

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.

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