Alex Ross

February 16, 2006

As I’ve gotten to explore more and more blogs, and specifically, ones in music, time after time I see links to Alex Ross’s “The Rest is Noise.” So, over the past couple of months, I’ve read nearly all of his writing, and I must say, I love it.

Alex Ross

Author, oboist, composer, Alex Ross

Dear Alex:

    • I love your generous blog posts that range from highly informative haiku-esque scribblings to mammoth articles. I assume you’re “giving” that to the world, and I thank you.
    • I love the range of your musical knowledge, and the passion you have for it.
    • You have a scholarly as well as a naughty-little-kid approach to writing, and it draws me in every time.
    • You have an open mind for any kind of music and have little interest in categorizing music for the sake of “high” or “low” art.
    • You’ll likely beat me to writing “Boulez et mort” but I’ll give you a run for your money (Don’t hurry Pierre, we still love you).
    • You are truly a tremendous helper to many young (and old) composers and performers.
    • You don’t seem to draw pleasure from personal attacks when you don’t like a piece of music as some others do.
    • I love how I can glance down a short posting and see the names of Missy Elliot, Milton Babbitt, Iannis Xenakis, and Bob Dylan in one article.
    • Can we clone you and make you the head of NASM and have you rethink how we are educating our young musicians?
    • Then, can we clone you and have you design a program in some university where you can train the next generation of music critics?
    • I agree with you about Dr Atomic; and about Robert Wilson, and Dylan
    • I appreciate your generosity re: Babbitt and Carter.

    This is not a down payment for a good review, just a celebration of a damned good writer.

    Thanks Alex!

    ps: I never did figure out what “The Rest is Noise” meant…

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa February 16, 2006 at 6:57 pm

“This is not a down payment for a good review, just a celebration of a damned good writer.”

Sure it is….

Rosa February 16, 2006 at 7:00 pm


Rosa February 17, 2006 at 3:20 pm

Alex Ross gets on my nerves – he’s probably a nice guy. It’s not because of his style. But until last year I really thought his perspective was a lttle frustrated. I couldn’t say I agreed with his positions, just stale of center or pandering of the conservative. It was like, come on and tell us what you really think! But I had no personal stake to claim, but I can hardly be irritated more by someone I hadn’t actually met besides Ari Fleisher!

There was an article last year that finally had that generosity that you talked about – in my view. I thought to myself, oy, he’s FINALLY getting the real picture. I have since forgotten the articel, as Morton Feldman writes of his references used in the Rothko Chapel, to paraphrase, “I have now forgotten”. So, goodbye Alex, best of luck writing for the New Yorker – I’ll be reading you for the next fifty years I suppose. But I always preferred Adam Gopnik.

Roger Bourland February 17, 2006 at 3:25 pm

Ah Rosa! Thanks for the sober counterpoint. Tell ya what, you take Alan Poor to the desert island, I’ll take Alex… wait a minute, that sounds wrong. Alright: you take Alan Poor’s WRITINGs to a desert island, I’ll take Alex’s WRITINGS to mine….

Rosa February 17, 2006 at 8:45 pm

Hey! Why do I get stuck with Alan’s writing? Alex Ross seems by far the more interesting critic on the scene.

8vb February 18, 2006 at 5:29 pm

Alex Ross is, by far, the best writer on classical music that I’ve come across. I had no idea he is so young! He is able to talk about complex compositional ideas and display a personal passion for the music all at the same time. So rare… His essay on the score to ‘Lord of the Rings’ ( really turned me on to a score that had done nothing for me up to that point. He is a shining light in a dying industry…

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