Alex Ross’s award-winning international best seller, The Rest Is Noise, has become a contemporary classic, establishing him 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 described his late-blooming discovery of pop music, showcases the best of Ross’s 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 In a previously unpublished essay, Ross brilliantly retells hundreds of years of music history - from Renaissance dances to Led Zeppelin - through a few iconic bass lines of celebration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 to 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.
"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." (
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perfect balance between personal and historical view on music