I really loved The Rest Is Noise by New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross, so I’m thrilled to hear FSG will be publishing his next book in September, called Listen to This.
A little surprising, though to see that the book is going from manuscript to print in a little under 9 months:
I have a habit of finishing books in hotels. I sent off The Rest Is Noise from the Omni in downtown Los Angeles; Listen To This, which Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish at the end of September, was dispatched last week from . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Alex Ross points to the results of a recent survey of American composers. One bit in particular caught my attention:
They have a median total income of $45,000, and, on average, they derive 19% of that amount from composition. Yet they spend twenty-seven hours a week on composing-related activities. Eighty-five respondents — 6.4% of the total — make a living entirely from writing music.
Obviously classical music composers and authors isn’t an apples to apples comparison, but I do think it’s instructive that only 6.4% of them earn a living off their work. As with classical music, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
At The Guardian, Sam Jordison says no to reading with music, of any kind:
As for novels, forget it. Even music that doesn’t ask too much – or can at least be enjoyed in the background – can cause problems. Brian Eno’s haunting Music For Airports has ruined PG Wodehouse for me in the past. Almost as much as the noise it was supposed to neuter: a woman (old, I might add) yelling down her mobile about the weather. The happy tinkling of Chopin has rendered absurd grisly scenes in Cain’s Book and tragedy in A Farewell To . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Alex Ross notes that you can purchase a boxed set of almost everything Strvinsky ever wrote (that’s 22 CDs of music) for £17.99. Though this deal isn’t available in the States, Ross says his boxed set took only 8 days to transit the Atlantic.
That is one incredible price (and it becomes more and more incredible as the pound continues to take a beating), but I will say that Strvinsky is the set’s conductor, and I have heard that he isn’t the best interpretor of his works.
Alex Ross has links to some reports on how symphonies around the U.S. are weathering this recession so far. Some are remaining prosperous, but others are seeing declines in attendance and donations.
If you’re not planning to already, you should really resolve to see at least one symphonic performance in 2009. Not just as a way to help the arts in your community, but simply because the symphony is an amazing experience.
The first symphony performance I’ll be attending in this new year will come in late February when Anne-Sophie Mutter comes to town for the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Alex Ross offers his favorite classical recordings from 2008. Lots of good stuff here, including:
“Hommage à Messiaen”; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano (Deutsche Grammophon).
John Adams, “Doctor Atomic”; Gerald Finley, baritone, with Lawrence Renes conducting the Netherlands Opera (Opus Arte DVD).
One of the things I most liked about Alex Ross’s survey of 20th century classical were his readings of the music. In many cases, he was able to give a sense of how the music worked and deliver a reading of a piece (in a note-by-note, quasi-literary sense) that could even be understood by those on whom terms such as "triad" and "first inversion" are lost. (I’m a good test case, since I’m exactly that person.)
To coincide with the paperback release of The Rest Is Noise, Ross has made it possible for any of us to quickly grasp . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Just to follow up from earlier this week, there actually is a DVD version of Doctor Atomic available, of a performance that I’m told largely duplicates the cast of the world premiere.