The Rest Is Noise takes the reader inside the labyrinth of modern sound. It tells of maverick personalities who have resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.
Ross, in this sweeping and dramatic narrative, takes us from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.
This book is a guide to every aspect of the long and ongoing story of Western classical music. It reveals in a stimulating and lively way the exceptionally gifted individuals who have shaped the musical landscape over a millennia, from the chanting monks of the middle ages to the bold exponents of minimalism of the last 100 years. Personal and creative profiles of composers, both major and minor, form the heart of the book and offer rich insights into the qualities of their music and an ideal introduction to the range and diversity of the Classical repertoire.
Also exploring the links among this diverse group of composers, the guide offers a cross-index of names that will help the researcher formulate a cohesive view of the 20th-century avant-garde. A bibliography and list of selected works round out the volume, which succeeds in demystifying an area that, until now, has been the exclusive province only of the specialist.
The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Aaron Copland (1900-1990) became one of America's most beloved and esteemed composers. His work, which includes Fanfare for the Common Man, A Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring, has been honored by a huge following of devoted listeners.
But the full richness of Copland's life and accomplishments has never, until now, been documented or understood. Howard Pollack's meticulously researched and engrossing biography explores the symphony of Copland's life: his childhood in Brooklyn; his homosexuality; Paris in the early 1920s; the Alfred Stieglitz circle; his experimentation with jazz; the communist witch trials; Hollywood in the forties; public disappointment with his later, intellectual work; and his struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, Pollack presents informed discussions of Copland's music, explaining and clarifying its newness and originality, its aesthetic and social aspects, its distinctive and enduring personality.
"Not only a success in its own right, but a valuable model of what biography can and probably should be. " - Kirkus Reviews