I was really looking forward to this book, but it was impossible to get into. There really is no theme whatsover to each chapter. It's a laundry list of "interesting" facts that the author managed to unearth--the type of stuff you would hear an obnoxious music enthusiast using to try to impress people at a cocktail party.
This book is packed with insights but it should be read not listened to. It's an excellent reference about the music of a large number of composers. amd full of good stories about the social context in which they worked, their personalities, egos, political views, and relationships with each other. As an Audiobook, there is no way to look up Schoenberg (say) if you're listening to or plan to listen to his music. While I the segments I listened to today included some fascinating details of his life, I won't easily be able to find them again. While the details are vivid, within two days, I won't know if they are about Schoenberg or Barkok. A much better idea would be to buy the book (which hopefully has an index). I've rated it two stars (it deserves 4 for content, but it only deserves one or two as an Audiobook).
An interesting perspective on primarily 20th century classical music. I found the approach however somewhat too pretentious for my taste. The author seemingly has a bias toward particular social/political viewpoints which bleed into the narrative - so depending on your own viewpoints, you might be sympathetic to the presentation or find yourself getting occasionally annoyed. Helpful to have access to a classical library by which to sample the composers and works discussed in the book. I have a subscription to Rhapsody which was helpful to dive into throughout the exploration provided by this book.
If you've read Alex Ross in the New Yorker, you know what a brilliant and gracious critic he is. But here the full breadth of his erudition is unfolded, and his genius for close reading of musical texts and relating them to larger intellectual movements is staggering.
my ipod and audible make the daily 10 mile walks a "breeze"....
if it was intended to be a history book about music...for the general reader...it missed the mark by a mile....if you, like me, have absolutely zero knowledge about music....cannot play an instrument...don't know the difference between a sharp or a flat.....stay away from this book.....too technical for me....and I suspect the general public.
How fusty old composers overcame life's vicissitudes to produce meaning in sound -- Alex Ross's prose makes his critical ear accessible to me. Walking in the park, listening to his words, I could almost hear the tension of the notes that made the first listeners uneasy.
I might not listen to it again, but I'm glad I listened to it once.
Vanity Fair? Daniel Deronda? Something big.
Not possible--too intense.
I like mysteries, classics, and good non-fiction. Much of my audible listening takes place when I am working out and sweaty, so I like good plot-driven thrillers.
This is one of the best Audible Books I've heard. It makes me realize how much more I retain when I'm listening to something as opposed to reading the words. I've read some nice thrillers and mysteries and classical fiction and poetry. This, my first foray into non-fiction, was incredibly rewarding.
Perhaps---Mahler. Because this is a non-fiction book, there are no characters per se. But Grover Gardner's superb, clear narration makes Alex Ross's history of 20th century music absolutely riveting.
He is new to me but I plan to look him up and listen to other of his performances. What a wonderful, clear voice. His enunciation is crystal clear and utterly engaging.
It's too long to do that! I would have to go without a night's sleep. But it's most certainly a book that made me return to it as frequently and as quickly as I could. It is a reflection and history of 20th century music that has the quick pace and excitement of a thriller.
I also should say that I find the topic innately fascinating so I was prepared to enjoy it and to be illuminated. What I did not know was what a fantastic addition to my "knowledge" bank this would be. I knew the bare outlines of the stories of the various composers and compositions. I did not know the wonderful nuances and the vivid historical perspectives this book would provide. It's a book worth rereading and I certainly will never delete it from my library.
If you like--or are interested--in classical music, you will enjoy this book. If you think that the 20th century was a musical wasteland, give this title a try.
I'm a country potter, gardener, flute player and tin tinker living with my husband, an electrical engineer & cabinet maker.
My friend tried to get me to read this book and I just couldn't get interested. I tried the audio version hoping that I could get interested but it's more than I want to know about music.
This book truly changed the way I understand 20th music and provided me with deep insights into the changing role of composition. The interconnection between music and society was examined in great depth. Ross really enhanced my appreciation and understanding of music that I had, at best a limited grasp of.