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Classical music and the 20th century is not a topic that you hear on most people’s lips.
And that’s a real shame.
Why? Because some of the greatest works of classical music were composed in the 19XXs.
Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise is the definitive history of that period in the evolution of classical music and it’s amazing.
Classical music saw huge shocks in the 20th century as the traditional landscape fragmented over and over again to create new and diverging strands that would each have their own composers, innovations and world class performers.
Alex Ross, the New Yorker’s music critic, adeptly slices each segment up and then unfolds it for the reader to grasp the significance within the development of classical music.
He’s not afraid to touch on the political influences of the music either and learning about how “Nixon in China” changed classical was enthralling.
We’d never really considered how big and influential the classical music scene of the last century was until we picked up this book.
It was a deserved winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Guardian First Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize! You can’t go wrong with The Rest Is Noise, it’s superb.
You can grab a copy online here.
If this has put you in the mood to listen to some classical music, why not download one of these free music apps to get you started? And if, instead, you feel like reading more about music check out this list of awesome music bloggers or our list of the most essential music books.