Alex Ross, music critic for the New Yorker, is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for music criticism. In 2008 he was a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, given for achievements in creativity and potential for making important future cultural contributions. Grover Gardner is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred titles to his credit. Named one of the "Best Voices of the Century" and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.
While there are numerous books on the subject of 20th-century music, this is the first to take a comprehensive, post-2000 view of the tumultuous and untidy but fascinating history of music and culture from 1900 to 2000. Ross, an award-winning music critic for The New Yorker, details-in 15 chapters organized into three large chronological sections (i.e., 1900-33, 1933-45, and 1945-2000)-the personalities, the ideological battles, and, of course, the musical works that helped to define their era. Among the large themes that Ross tackles are the widening gulf between classical and popular music and the inability of contemporary music to command the attention and respect afforded other modern artistic endeavors, such as art, architecture, and literature. Though the narrative is lively and at times dramatic, the text is supported by serious research; copious endnotes draw on both popular and scholarly writing. There are no examples in musical notation, and the language is comprehensible to the layperson. Despite a surprisingly short list of suggested listening that omits some major composers (e.g., Paul Hindemith, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Philip Glass), this rich and engrossing history is highly recommended for all collections.-Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Ross, the classical music critic for the New Yorker, leads a whirlwind tour from the Viennese premiere of Richard Strauss's Salome in 1906 to minimalist Steve Reich's downtown Manhattan apartment. The wide-ranging historical material is organized in thematic essays grounded in personalities and places, in a disarmingly comprehensive style reminiscent of historian Otto Friedrich. Thus, composers who led dramatic lives-such as Shostakovich's struggles under the Soviet regime-make for gripping reading, but Ross treats each composer with equal gravitas. The real strength of this study, however, lies in his detailed musical analysis, teasing out-in precise but readily accessible language-the notes that link Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story to Arnold Schoenberg's avant-garde compositions or hint at a connection between Sibelius and John Coltrane. Among the many notable passages, a close reading of Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes stands out for its masterful blend of artistic and biographical insight. Readers new to classical music will quickly seek out the recordings Ross recommends, especially the works by less prominent composers, and even avid fans will find themselves hearing familiar favorites with new ears. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.